|Studio album by|
|Released||April 9, 1969|
|Recorded||February 12-21, 1969|
|Genre||Country rock, country|
|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 Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
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 Kennedy (a leading candidate for the presidency) were assassinated. Riots broke out in several major 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.
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 retract 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.
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?"
|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|
|1969||Cash Box Album Charts||3|
|1969||Record World Album Charts||1|
|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)||Gold||100,000|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone