Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan

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Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan
Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan

Album Released: 1969

Nashville Skyline ::: Artwork

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1.Girl From The North Country3:44
2.Nashville Skyline Rag3:14
3.To Be Alone With You2:10
4.I Threw It All Away2:26
5.Peggy Day2:05
6.Lay Lady Lay3:21
7.One More Night2:25
8.Tell Me That It Isn't True2:43
9.Country Pie1:39
10.Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You3:23


By the late-60's, Bob Dylan was reportedly fed up that everybody (and their dogs, and their fleas, and the bubonic plague) were calling him the 'voice of a generation'.

I mean, what had Dylan done exactly, to earn such distinction? During the peak of his popularity, he specialized in writing derivative blues and folk music with surreal lyrics. Big deal! That's hardly worthy of being dubbed with such a massive title. Or at least, Dylan didn't seem to think so.

When he set out to defy this role, with the quiet release of John Wesley Harding, it proved to be too popular to deter his fanbase. Thus, he followed it up with Nashville Skyline, an album that's pure country music through and through. So what does his fanbase think of country? I bet they hated it.

He also sings here in a rather bizarre high-pitched country crooner's voice. I still remember the first time I played this album, fresh from the music store - I thought to myself 'Who the hell is that?' For months, I thought he had hired a different singer (I suppose this sudden change will at least give people who profess to disliking his Mr. Wheezebags's voice a bit of a break).

Well Dylan failed once again, because his fans really love this album too. Can we blame them? Or, rather, can we blame ourselves? (I've never met anyone who dared said he/she didn't like Nashville Skyline ... but then again, I don't meet many people these days who listen to anything other than The Dave Matthews Band).

I mean, who could ever possibly dislike an album with something like “Lay Lady Lay” on it, which is one of the dreamiest songs I've ever heard? I'm sure you know it by heart ... it's characterized by that descending chord progression played on light electric organ, a watery slide guitar, and woody percussion. The melody, delivered by his frankly beautiful (but still goofy) singing voice, is quite charming. Easily, that's a song that can be taken to heart - and it has been, by millions.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)

Nashville Skyline is Dylan's first lightweight, inconsequential album. Previously, he'd changed the course of pop music, or at least made substantial waves with every album, but from here on Dylan would never again be a revolutionary, just another singer/songwriter.

Of course Dylan's no run-of-the-mill singer/songwriter, and while this record didn't change history, it's highly enjoyable. In fact it's the most listener-friendly album that Dylan ever recorded, as he adopts a mellow croon for a set of straightforward country songs.

Dylan as a soft rocker can be disconcerting at first, but when the soft rock is as good as "Lay Lady Lay" then who can argue? There's a nice duet with Johnny Cash titled "Girl from the North Country" that stands as the record's highlight. And tunes like "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You" and "I Threw It All Away" are first-rate examples of country/rock.

Of course there are a few throwaways, but what Dylan album doesn't have a few of those (answer: John Wesley Harding and Blood on the Tracks). So even people who hate Dylan for his 'bad' voice will find plenty to like here. It's just not an 'Important Album', what's more it's not even half-an-hour long.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise

I'm trying to imagine what it would've been like to be a Dylan fan in 1969 ... you run out to the store as soon as his new album is released, you slap it on the turntable, then you start wondering 'Did they accidentally put a Jim Nabors record in this sleeve?'.

For Dylan's got a new voice here, and it's not great. Previously, his surly charisma allowed me to overlook the more-than-occasional missed note, but now he's trying for a smooth crooner's sound, and with no texture to his singing I really notice all those off notes. Combined with the fact that this album runs less than half-an-hour, and contains two throwaways at that, this is the least typical Dylan album of all time.

What's worse is that Dylan's not even trying for a unique sound. Previously, he'd blended rock, folk, and country - by having studio musicians play out of their idiom - but here he's going for a straight country sound. So unless you're a big fan of ragged Nashville sessions, it's hard to like the backing.

The lousy duet with Johnny Cash (both seem to be starting the melody at different points in the bar), plus a pointless instrumental, are just the start of the triviality that abounds. "Peggy Day" is just plain idiotic, and "One More Night" seems to have derived its lyric entirely from Harlan Howard's scrapheap.

That still leaves several solid efforts though. "Lay Lady Lay" does break out of the country sound, with a gorgeous cowbell track, a laid-back organ, and steel guitar supporting Dylan's moody vocal. "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You" is a terrific lyric, with its mixture of joy and regret, along with a lovely melody winding up and down the chord pattern.

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by Reviewer: Steve Knowlton (blogging at Steve's Record Reviews)

Shortly after completing the sessions for Nashville Skyline (which had gone pretty smoothly due to the generally simple nature of the songs), Dylan entered the studio with Johnny Cash with a view to recording an album of country covers. They recorded a dozen or so songs, but the results were generally chaotic and disappointing.

The successful single "Lay Lady Lay" had been submitted too late for the Midnight Cowboy movie, but Dylan didn't have a lot of material at the time - there's even an instrumental here, on what is a mere 27-minute album. Some Dylan fans were disappointed as - by comparison - since the last Dylan record The Beatles had released the double White Album and also recorded Abbey Road.

Another initially off-putting factor for the average Dylan fan may've been the sound of Dylan's voice - it's actually a throwback to how he sounded in his very early days before moving to New York and getting into Woody Guthrie - a rich honey-crooning kind of singing voice. Although sounding almost like a different singer altogether, this voice is kind of charming.

But the Johnny Cash duet - a version of Dylan's own "Girl from the North Country" - is very strained in places, especially when they attempt to sing harmony together, and generally fail. Dylan was never the greatest harmony singer in the world, but still - the results are strangely captivating in a ramshackle kind of way.

Whilst everyone focused on the how and why of Dylan's new voice, few actually paid attention to the quality of the vocal performances here. He sounds so very good vocally throughout "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You" for example, and it's pretty much a Dylan standard these days, often appearing on hits compilations.

It may seem I've given this record too high a rating - after all, there's only 27 minutes of music here. But I just think it's fun and enjoyable, it plays well, and is good to put on if I don't feel like listening to something heavy.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)