April 9: Bob Dylan released Nashville Skyline in 1969
Well, Jann, I’ll tell you something. There’s not too much of a change in my singing style, but I’ll tell you something which is true… I stopped smoking. When I stopped smoking my voice changed… So drastically, I couldn’t believe it myself. That’s true. I tell you, you stop smoking those cigarettes (laughter)… and you’ll be able to sing like Caruso.
~Bob Dylan (to Jann Wenner Nov 1969)
Anyway, on Nashville Skyline you had to read between the lines. I was trying to grasp something that would lead me on to where I thought I should be, and it didn’t go nowhere – it just went down, down, down.
~Bob Dylan (to Jonathan Cott, Sept 1978)
Released 48 years ago, it surely is one of his most controversial albums.. “Embracing” classic Country music & kicking off the “Country Rock” genre.
I’ve always liked this album… not a masterpiece, but a solid Dylan album.
#1 – Girl from the North Country (with Johnny Cash)
Nashville Skyline is the ninth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in April 1969 by Columbia Records.
Building on the rustic style he experimented with on John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline displayed a complete immersion into country music. Along with the more basic lyrical themes, simple songwriting structures, and charming domestic feel, it introduced audiences to a radically new singing voice from Dylan—a soft, affected country croon.
The result received a generally positive reaction from critics, and was a commercial success. Reaching number 3 in the US, the album also scored Dylan his fourth UK number 1 album.
(Some of) the Recording sessions:
…To his chagrin, the press continued to promote him as the spokesman of his generation.
“I Threw It All Away” was another hit single for Nashville Skyline. Riley (music critic Tim Riley) describes it as “a glimmer of honesty from a person who has taken love for granted, squandered its rewards, and lived to sing about it.”
“Lay Lady Lay” turned out to be one of Dylan’s biggest pop hits, reaching #7 in the US, and giving him his biggest single in three years. “Lay Lady Lay” was originally written for the film Midnight Cowboy, but Dylan did not deliver it in time for it to be included in the score. He was initially reluctant to authorize the single’s release, but eventually approved at the insistence of Columbia president Clive Davis.
#6 – Lay Lady Lay
#10 – Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You
Sources: Wikipedia, referred books, Dylan interviews
Some interesting opinions:
In the end, Nashville Skyline is a lovely album but not a heavyweight contender, though its effects were major ones. Country music was despised, hick music when Dylan took it up. People were divided into the hip and the non-hip. The counterculture was in full swing and riddled with its own self-importance and snobbery. Nashville Skyline was a hard pill to swallow: but it did ’em good.
~Michael Gray (Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)
…Nashville Skyline was a full-fledged country album, complete with steel guitars and brief, direct songs. It’s a warm, friendly album, particularly since Bob Dylan is singing in a previously unheard gentle croon — the sound of his voice is so different it may be disarming upon first listen, but it suits the songs.
~Stephen Thomas Erlewine (allmusic.com)
So here he is, folks, Homebody Bob, singin’ ten songs for your listenin’ pleasure — well, nine, actually one is a hoedown sort o’ thing. Everyone knows by now, I hope, how intense that pleasure is. But hasn’t anyone noticed something odd? ….. but no one mentioned that by the mere trick of changing his entire vocal style, Dylan had crossed us up again, that “Nashville Skyline” was a bigger switcheroo than “John Wesley Harding.” It is touching that everyone wants to believe Bobby has settled down, but don’t bet on it. All those protestations of easy innocence may be just one more shuck.
~Robert Christgau (Village voice – May 1, 1969)
- “Girl from the North Country” (with Johnny Cash) – 3:41
- “Nashville Skyline Rag” – 3:12
- “To Be Alone with You” – 2:07
- “I Threw It All Away” – 2:23
- “Peggy Day” – 2:01
- “Lay Lady Lay” – 3:18
- “One More Night” – 2:23
- “Tell Me That It Isn’t True” – 2:41
- “Country Pie” – 1:37
- “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You” – 3:23
My grades (0-10):
- Bob Dylan – guitar, harmonica, keyboards, vocals
- Additional musicians
- Norman Blake – guitar, dobro
- Kenneth A. Buttrey – drums
- Johnny Cash – vocals
- Fred Carter, Jr. – guitar
- Charlie Daniels – bass guitar, guitar
- Pete Drake – pedal steel guitar
- Marshall Grant – bass guitar on “Girl from North Country”
- W.S. Holland – drums on “Girl from North Country”
- Charlie McCoy – guitar, harmonica
- Bob Wilson – organ, piano
- Bob Wootton – electric guitar on “Girl from North Country”
- Technical personnel
- Bob Johnston – production
- Charlie Bragg – engineering
- Neil Wilburn – engineering
Also check out -> Bob Dylan albums @ Alldylan