Nashville Skyline

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Nashville Skyline
Dylan looking down at the camera while holding a guitar, smiling, and doffing his cap
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 9, 1969 (1969-04-09)
RecordedFebruary 12–21, 1969
StudioColumbia Studio A, Nashville
ProducerBob Johnston
Bob Dylan chronology
John Wesley Harding
Nashville Skyline
Self Portrait
Singles from Nashville Skyline
  1. "I Threw It All Away"/"Drifter's Escape"
    Released: May 1969
  2. "Lay Lady Lay"/"Peggy Day"
    Released: July 1969
  3. "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You"/"Country Pie"
    Released: October 1969

Nashville Skyline is the ninth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on April 9, 1969, by Columbia Records as LP record, reel to reel tape and audio cassette.

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, who had temporarily quit smoking[2]—a soft, affected country croon.

The result received a generally positive reaction from critics, and was a commercial success. Reaching No. 3 in the U.S., the album also scored Dylan his fourth UK No. 1 album.


The concept of recording a country album in Nashville was first discussed with Dylan in 1965 by Johnny Cash, who expressed interest in producing such an album.[3] "I've got my own ideas about that Nashville sound and I'd like to try it with Bob," Cash said in a March 1965 interview with Music Business magazine. Those sessions never materialized and by June of that year, Dylan was going fully electric with the recording of Highway 61 Revisited. By the time Nashville Skyline was recorded, the political climate in the United States had grown more polarized. In 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy (a leading candidate for the presidency) were assassinated. Riots broke out in most major American cities, including a major one surrounding the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and racially motivated conflagrations spurred by King's assassination. A new president, Richard Nixon, was sworn into office in January 1969, but the U.S. engagement in Southeast Asia, particularly the Vietnam War, would continue for several years. Protests over a wide range of political topics became more frequent. Dylan had been a leading cultural figure, noted for political and social commentary throughout the 1960s. Even as he moved away from topical songs, he never lost his cultural stature. However, as Clinton Heylin wrote of Nashville Skyline, "If Dylan was concerned about retaining a hold on the rock constituency, making albums with Johnny Cash in Nashville was tantamount to abdication in many eyes."[4]

"Our generation owes him our artistic lives," observed Kris Kristofferson, who later sang with Cash in The Highwaymen, "because he opened all the doors in Nashville when he did Blonde on Blonde and Nashville Skyline. The country scene was so conservative until he arrived. He brought in a whole new audience. He changed the way people thought about it – even the Grand Ole Opry was never the same again."[5]

Helped by a promotional appearance on The Johnny Cash Show on June 7, Nashville Skyline went on to become one of Dylan's best-selling albums. Three singles were pulled from it, all of which received significant airplay on AM radio.

Critical reception and legacy[edit]

Retrospective professional reviews
Review scores
Chicago Tribune[7]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[10]
MusicHound Rock3.5/5[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[9]
Tom HullA−[11]

Despite the dramatic, commercial shift in direction, the press also gave Nashville Skyline a warm reception. A critic for Newsweek wrote of "the great charm... and the ways Dylan, both as composer and performer, has found to exploit subtle differences on a deliberately limited emotional and verbal scale."[12] In Rolling Stone, Paul Nelson wrote, "Nashville Skyline achieves the artistically impossible: a deep, humane, and interesting statement about being happy. It could well be... his best album."[13] However, Nelson would reconsider his opinion in a review for Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II less than three years later, writing, "I was misinformed. That's why no one should pay any attention to critics, especially the artist."[14] In The Village Voice, Robert Christgau argued that "the beauty of the album" was in the "totally undemanding" and "one-dimensional" quality of the songs, believing Dylan had toyed with the public's expectations again by embracing a country tenor voice and aesthetic.[15] He later included it in his "Basic Record Library" of 1950s and 1960s recordings, published in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981).[16] It was voted number 579 in the third edition of Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000).[17]

A few critics expressed some disappointment. Ed Ochs of Billboard wrote, "the satisfied man speaks in clichés, and blushes as if every day were Valentine's Day." Tim Souster of the BBC's The Listener magazine wrote, "One can't help feeling something is missing. Isn't this idyllic country landscape too good to be true?"[18]

Hip hop group Public Enemy reference it in their 2007 Dylan tribute song "Long and Whining Road": "Fans, if it's not for you, there'd be no PE / From the Nashville Skyline, to the homeboys and girls of South Country".[19]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Bob Dylan.

Side one
1."Girl from the North Country" (duet with Johnny Cash)3:41
2."Nashville Skyline Rag"3:12
3."To Be Alone with You"2:07
4."I Threw It All Away"2:23
5."Peggy Day"2:01
Total length:13:24
Side two
1."Lay Lady Lay"3:18
2."One More Night"2:23
3."Tell Me That It Isn't True"2:41
4."Country Pie"1:37
5."Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You"3:23
Total length:13:22





Weekly charts[edit]

Year Chart Peak
1969 Billboard 200[22] 3
1969 Cash Box Album Charts[23] 3
1969 Record World Album Charts[24] 1
1969 Spanish Albums Chart[25] 4
1969 UK Top 75[26] 1


Year Single Chart Peak
1969 "I Threw it All Away" Billboard Hot 100[27] 85
1969 "I Threw it All Away" UK Top 100[28] 30
1969 "Lay Lady Lay" Billboard Hot 100[27] 7
1969 "Lay Lady Lay" UK Top 75[29] 5
1969 "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You" Billboard Hot 100[27] 50


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[30] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[31]
2004 release
Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[33] Platinum 1,000,000[32]

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Michael Erlewine (1997). All Music Guide to Country: The Experts' Guide to the Best Recordings in Country Music. Miller Freeman. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-87930-475-1.
  2. ^ "How Bob Dylan Found His New Voice on 'Nashville Skyline'". Archived from the original on November 15, 2017. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  3. ^ Music Business 1965. Johnny Casy World Radio History[dead link]
  4. ^ Heylin (2003), p. 301.
  5. ^ Bell, Max: "Q&A: Kris Kristofferson"; Classic Rock #148, August 2010, p34
  6. ^ "Nashville Skyline". AllMusic. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  7. ^ Kot, Greg (October 25, 1992). "Dylan Through the Years: Hits and Misses". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 1, 2016.
  8. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel, eds. (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide (2nd ed.). Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 371. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.
  9. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York, NY: Fireside. p. 262. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  10. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195313734.
  11. ^ Hull, Tom (June 21, 2014). "Rhapsody Streamnotes: June 21, 2014". Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  12. ^ Quoted in Heylin (2003), p. 302.
  13. ^ Nelson, Paul (May 31, 1969). "Records". Rolling Stone. No. 34. San Francisco: Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. p. 36. Archived from the original on June 1, 2015. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  14. ^ Nelson, Paul (January 6, 1972). "Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 3, 2014.
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert (May 1969). "Obvious Believers". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 1, 2016.
  16. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "A Basic Record Library: The Fifties and Sixties". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 0899190251. Retrieved March 16, 2019 – via
  17. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (2006). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 195. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  18. ^ Both quoted in Heylin (2003), p. 303.
  19. ^ Public Enemy – The Long and Whining Road, retrieved April 12, 2021
  20. ^ Heylin, Clinton (1995). The Recording Sessions 1960-1994. St. Martin's Press. pp. 74, 75. ISBN 0312134398.
  21. ^ "Bob Dylan 'Nashville Skyline' Cover: The Inside Story". Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  22. ^ "Bob Dylan – Chart history". Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  23. ^ "CASH BOX MAGAZINE: Archive of all issues from1942 to 1996". Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  24. ^ "RECORD WORLD MAGAZINE: 1942 to 1982". Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  25. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002. Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  26. ^ "The Official Charts Company – Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  27. ^ a b c "Bob Dylan – Chart history". Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  28. ^ "I Threw it All Away UK Chart". Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  29. ^ "Lay Lady Lay – UK Charts". Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  30. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline". Music Canada. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  31. ^ "British album certifications – Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  32. ^ "Gold & Platinum - RIAA". RIAA. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  33. ^ "American certifications". Recording Industry Association of America.