|Studio album by|
|Released||April 9, 1969|
|Recorded||February 12–21, 1969|
|Studio||Columbia Studio A, Nashville|
|Bob Dylan chronology|
|Singles from Nashville Skyline|
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—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. "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."
"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."
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
|The Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
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." 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." 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." 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. 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). It was voted number 579 in the third edition of Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000).
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?"
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".
All songs written by Bob Dylan.
|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|
|1.||"Lay Lady Lay"||3:18|
|2.||"One More Night"||2:23|
|3.||"Tell Me That It Isn't True"||2:41|
|5.||"Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You"||3:23|
- Bob Dylan – guitar, harmonica, vocals
- Norman Blake – guitar, Dobro
- Kenneth A. Buttrey – drums, bongos, cowbell
- Johnny Cash – vocals and guitar on "Girl from the North Country"
- Fred Carter Jr. – guitar
- Charlie Daniels – bass guitar, guitar
- Pete Drake – pedal steel guitar
- Marshall Grant – bass guitar on "Girl from the North Country"
- W. S. Holland – drums on "Girl from the North Country"
- Charlie McCoy – guitar, harmonica
- Bob Wilson – organ, piano
- Bob Wootton – electric guitar on "Girl from the North Country"
- Bob Johnston – production
- Charlie Bragg – engineering
- Neil Wilburn – engineering
- Elliot Landy - photographer front cover
- Al Clayton - photographer back cover
|1969||Cash Box Album Charts||3|
|1969||Record World Album Charts||1|
|1969||Spanish Albums Chart||4|
|1969||UK Top 75||1|
|1969||"I Threw it All Away"||Billboard Hot 100||85|
|1969||"I Threw it All Away"||UK Top 100||30|
|1969||"Lay Lady Lay"||Billboard Hot 100||7|
|1969||"Lay Lady Lay"||UK Top 75||5|
|1969||"Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You"||Billboard Hot 100||50|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||50,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000|
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
- 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.
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- Music Business 1965. Johnny Casy World Radio History[dead link]
- Heylin (2003), p. 301.
- Bell, Max: "Q&A: Kris Kristofferson"; Classic Rock #148, August 2010, p34
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- Hull, Tom (June 21, 2014). "Rhapsody Streamnotes: June 21, 2014". tomhull.com. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
- Quoted in Heylin (2003), p. 302.
- 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.
- Nelson, Paul (January 6, 1972). "Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 3, 2014.
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- 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 robertchristgau.com.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (2006). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 195. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
- Both quoted in Heylin (2003), p. 303.
- Public Enemy – The Long and Whining Road, retrieved April 12, 2021
- Heylin, Clinton (1995). The Recording Sessions 1960-1994. St. Martin's Press. pp. 74, 75. ISBN 0312134398.
- "Bob Dylan 'Nashville Skyline' Cover: The Inside Story". bestclassicbands.com. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
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- Salaverri, Fernando (2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002. Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
- "The Official Charts Company – Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
- "Bob Dylan – Chart history". www.billboard.com. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
- "I Threw it All Away UK Chart". officialcharts.com. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
- "Lay Lady Lay – UK Charts". officialcharts.com. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
- "Canadian album certifications – Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline". Music Canada. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
- "British album certifications – Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
- "Gold & Platinum - RIAA". RIAA. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
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