Monday, February 02, 2015

NASHVILLE SKYLINE



Bob Dylan closed out his 1960's discography with a set of tunes that confounded even his staunchest supporters. Important to note that this LP did very well commercially, hitting #3 in the US and topping the charts in the UK. The voice that emanated from the speaker grills was not a familiar one, though. Trading in his more abrasive, nasal vocal style, the artist now adopted a smoother approach to singing. Gone were the lengthy verses that stretched the limits of expression. Though greeted warmly, many listeners thought that Bob was pulling their leg. Surely there HAD to be an eight minute long, backward message from the bard tucked away in the run out grooves of this laid back LP?

In the game of chess, it is advisable to:

1. Open with a center pawn.

2. Develop with threats.

3. Knights before Bishops.

4. Don't move the same piece twice.

5. Make as few pawn moves as possible in the opening.

Nashville Skyline took inspiration from the fourth item on this list.

Taking exception to any labels that critics, contemporaries or his fans tried to apply to his music, he veered sharply away from the expectation that he should be landing in a silver spacecraft to deliver an important message through his songs. Instead, you hear a definite scaling back of the operation, lyrically, to take a crack at country stylings that were a huge part of what he heard on the radio as a kid. For the uninitiated, the commitment to this concept is unwavering from the "Howdy, neighbor!" cover art right on through to "Tonight, I'll Be Staying Here With You".

Is it rolling, Bob?



With Johnny Cash guesting ("Girl From the North Country") and "Lay Lady Lay" hitting big as a single, there is lots to like here. It was his most polished recording of the decade in terms of production values, though he never did anything quite like this again.




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