PE0056. BOB DYLAN: Nashville Skyline. Columbia CK 9825, recorded 1969. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy!
NASHVILLE SKYLINE is the ninth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on April 9, 1969, by Columbia Records as LP record, reel to reel tape and audio cassette.
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.
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.