In April 1969, Bob Dylan traveled to Nashville to record his ninth studio album. It would be his third time there with local pro and producer Bob Johnston, but this time it would be different: unlike the "fine and wild mercury sound" of 1966 Blonde on blonde and the sinister acoustic folk of 1967 John Wesley Harding, his next album would be a traditional country record. He called him Nashville Skyline.
While experimental groups such as Velvet Underground in New York and Grateful Dead in San Francisco pushed the boundaries of music, Dylan was isolated in Woodstock, New York, focusing on his growing family and paying little attention to the news. musical trends. He ended up subverting the audience's expectations again and producing an album that nobody expected. "It's the kind of song I always liked to write when I was alone to do it," he said. Newsweek. "The songs reflect more of me in me than the songs of the past."
Nashville Skyline A radical change in Dylan's voice: he had developed a baritone country which he said was the result of his decision to quit cigarettes. "When I quit smoking, my voice changed … so much that I could not believe it myself," he said. Rolling stone Founder Jann S. Wenner in his very first interview with this publication. "I tell you that you quit and you can sing like Caruso". In fact, he was trying to create a new vocal character corresponding to his new style of music.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Nashville SkylineHere are 10 things you may not know about this album.
1. The work title of the album was John Wesley Harding Vol. 2
The disk was originally supposed to be named John Wesley Harding Vol. 2, but according to Dylan, Columbia wanted to call the record Love is all there is. "I did not see anything wrong with that," he said. Rolling stone. "But it seemed a little scary."
He considered other titles like: Lay Lady Lay and Northern country girl before you install Nashville Skyline. "It was another title that did not really match," Dylan recalls with a laugh. "Imagine me at the front with a guitar and Northern country girl printed on the top. "
2. "Lay Lady Lay" was almost featured in the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy.
A few months before starting work on the album, Dylan was invited to contribute a song to the current movie Jon Voight / Dustin Hoffman. But by the time he presented "Lay Lady Lay" to director John Schlesinger, they had already decided to leave with the cover of "Everybody's Talkin" by Fred Nilsson. "
In the fall of 1968, Dylan proposed the song to the Everly Brothers when he found them behind the scenes during a concert in New York. In an interview with Kurt Loder in 1986, the duo corrected his words: "He sang some parts of it, and we did not really know whether he gave it to us or not," admitted Don Everly. "It was one of those marvelous moments. We ended up cutting the song about 15 years later.
3. Kris Kristofferson participated in the percussion parts of "Lay Lady Lay".
The seductive ballad featured guitarist Norman Blake's steel guitar and Dylan's low croon, but he was missing a drum part after a first song attempt. Drummer Kenny Buttrey asked Dylan what he had in mind. "Bongos," he replied. Buttrey found an old set of bongos and put a lighter under the skin to tighten the skin. When Johnston suggested adding bells, Buttrey also found them.
Kristofferson, then a studio concierge, was invited to hold the bongos and bell next to the Buttrey drum kit. "He had just emptied my ashtray on the drums," Buttrey recalls. "I said," Kris, give me a favor, hold me those two things. "
4. When Dylan asks, "Is it rolling, Bob?" In the introduction to "To be alone with you," he talks to producer Bob Johnston.
Johnston, who also produced Johnny Cash, Simon & Garfunkel and Leonard Cohen, started working with Dylan on Highway 61 revisited. Dylan had spent a large part of his career working closely with legendary producer Tom Wilson, but they broke up after finishing "Like a Rolling Stone".
It is still unclear why Wilson was replaced by Johnston. As Dylan always said, elusive Rolling stone in 1969, "All I know is that I was out one day and Tom was always there – I had no reason to think he was not going to be there – and I looked up one day and Bob was there. "
5. Coincidentally, Johnny Cash was recording in the same studio as Dylan in Nashville. They recorded 18 songs together.
The country star went by while Dylan recorded "Tonight I'll stay here with you" and "Nashville Skyline Rag". The next day, the two went to dinner while Johnston was preparing to record together. "While they were gone, I installed lights in the studio, made it look like a fucking nightclub," Johnston said. "Set up all the pickups, the guitars, all that."
The duo recorded 18 songs together. "Girl From the North Country", a country taken from the Freewheelin 'Bob Dylan track, was the only one officially released. "Cash said," Well, look at my 45s, "and Dylan said," I'm 45, "Johnston recalls." It's the most amazing and amazing thing I've ever seen. have never heard in my life. "The sessions were largely hacked.
6. The album opened the doors to country rock.
Although Nashville Skyline did not appear on the country maps, it peaked at Display panel 200, presenting to mainstream fans a sound that many had never heard before. This cross of country and pop opened the way for the Eagles and other country-rock superstars of the early 70's.
"Our generation owes it to our artistic life because it opened all the gates of Nashville when it Blonde on blonde and Nashville Skyline, " recalls Kristofferson. "The scene in the country was so conservative until it arrived. He brought a whole new audience. It changed people's thinking – even the Grand Ol 'Opry was never the same again.
7. Dylan played "I've thrown everything" for George Harrison during Thanksgiving 1968.
When Harrison and his wife, Pattie Boyd, spent the holidays with the Dylans at Woodstock, Dylan performed the guilty melody for them. Harrison was so blown away that he then covered the film with his Beatles colleagues during the Never mind sessions in January 1969.
With phrases like "Once upon a time there were mountains in the palm of my hand / And rivers flowing every day", "I threw it all away" is rich in details and images. On an album where most tracks were bare and pure, "I Threw It All Away" has a more traditionally dyane structure. "Sure Nashville Skyline you had to read between the lines, "he told Jonathan Cott in 1978." I was trying to grab something that would take me where I thought I should be, and it was nil. apart – it just went down, down. I could only be myself and at that time I did not know it or did not want to know it. "
8. The album was recorded in just four days.
The most of Nashville Skyline was recorded over a four-day period in mid-February. This is typical of Dylan, who recorded in 1964 Another side of Bob Dylan in one evening and rarely took more than a week to cut his albums once he had started working with support groups. The pace of lightning was also good for the Nashville session cats who accompanied him, who were used to working very fast so as not to accumulate time in the studio.
9. "Nashville Skyline Rag" is the first instrument of a Dylan album.
If reworking "Girl From the North Country" with Johnny Cash was not clear enough, "Nashville Skyline Rag" told listeners that it was not your typical Dylan album. Featuring a little over three minutes of ragtime music, this catchy melody could easily have fit on a Scott Joplin record.
It was also a chance for some of the best players in the Nashville session – some of whom had been working with Dylan since Blonde on blonde days – to present their chops and take solos without being interrupted by Dylan.
10. Two of the songs on this album have never been played in concert.
Dylan did not tour to support Nashville Skyline, and would not come back on the road before his meeting with the band in 1974. During this tour, the only Nashville Skyline The song that he included in the show was "Lay Lady Lay". He has since played "Tonight I'll stay here with you", "Country Pie", "To be alone with you", "Tell me it's not true" and "One More Night" over decades, but he has not played "Nashville Skyline Rag" or "Peggy Day" yet.