Nashville Skyline (1969)


 
1. Girl From the North Country 2. Nashville Skyline Rag 3. To Be Alone With You 4. I Threw It All Away 5. Peggy Day 6. Lay Lady Lay 7. One More Night 8. Tell Me That it Isn't True 9. Country Pie 10.Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You

 

This is the Bob Dylan album that people who are not a fan of him, might actually enjoy. Yes, this is a "Country" album, yet so was his last release John Wesley Harding, yet this album couldn't possibly be more different. This album is much more slick, polished, and some would argue over-produced, at least for Dylan's standards. He doesn't even sound like himself on this record, the treatment of his voice has such a heavy handed adjustment that you have to wonder exactly what was done in the recording studio to achieve such a bizarre effect to his vocal chords.

Yet happily everything on this album works quite well. This just goes to show you that an album doesn't have to "sound like" the artist, it just has to be good and this album is very good. The first song of the album, Girl From the North Country is actually a remake from a song he did on his legendary The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan back in, what seemed, oh so long ago. Yet this version is so distinctively different that it's almost as though Bob is making a statement right at the beginning that this is not the Bob Dylan of old. He even turns the song into a duet - with guest vocalist Johnny Cash, who had to be the hottest thing in Nashville during the time of this record.

The rest of the album falls in exactly the same vein. It's so lighthearted, so fun, so....Nashville that it's hard for anyone not to enjoy - even if you were still a rebellious folk loving hippy (and this was still 1969, remember). The highlight on the album is one of the very best Bob Dylan songs, Lay Lady Lay that is so timeless just in its sweetness and melody. Nothing here is as good as that song, but then again almost nothing at all he released was as good as that song.

It's a quick album. The running time is only at about 28 minutes, so it's safe to say that he wasn't really trying for anything too serious. You almost wish he could have added about a minute or so to each song because the tunes are so enjoyable. Country Pie, for example, barely clocks in at 90 seconds and almost feels like more of a commercial than a song. Yes, Dylan could play Country music. And based on the differences between this album and the last, he could play all kinds of Country music. It almost makes you wish he would have done more work in this particular style.


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