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Music / Nashville Skyline

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"Whatever colours you have in your mind/I'll show them to you and you'll see them shine."

Nashville Skyline is the ninth studio album by Bob Dylan, released in 1969 through Columbia Records. A departure from his previous albums, this album sees Dylan dive in head-first into the developing country rock genre, even singing a duet with Johnny Cash on "Girl From The North Country". Not only that, this album sees a new singing style for Dylan - one that is arguably the most accessible to those who otherwise can't get into Dylan.

Upon release, it was greeted with positive reviews and did very well commercially. "Lay Lady Lay" was a big international hit and "I Threw It All Away" and "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You", while charting low at the time, have remained fan favourites ever since.

In a case of What Could Have Been "Lay Lady Lay" was originally supposed to appear on the soundtrack of the later Oscar winning film Midnight Cowboy from 1969, but Dylan could not submit it in time to be included in the movie.

Outtakes from the album, including an entire session of Dylan/Cash duets, were released on The Bootleg Series Vol. 15—Travelin' Thru in 2019.


Side One
  1. "Girl from the North Country" (3:41)
  2. "Nashville Skyline Rag" (3:12)
  3. "To Be Alone with You" (2:07)
  4. "I Threw It All Away" (2:23)
  5. "Peggy Day" (2:01)

Side Two

  1. "Lay Lady Lay" (3:18)
  2. "One More Night" (2:23)
  3. "Tell Me That It Isn't True" (2:41)
  4. "Country Pie" (1:37)
  5. "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You" (3:23)

I Troped It All Away:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "Lay Lady Lay"
    Lay Lady Lay, Lay across my big brass bed
  • Alliterative Title: "Lay Lady Lay"
  • Break-Up Song:
    • "Peggy Day"
    Peggy Day stole my poor heart away
    Turned my skies to blue from grey
    • "I Threw It All Away"
    I once held her in my arms
    She said she would always stay
    But I was cruel
    I treated her like a fool
    I threw it all away.
    • "One More Night"
    Oh, it's shameful and it's sad
    I lost the only pal I had
    I just could not be what she wanted me to be
  • Country Music: Dylan already experimented with the genre on John Wesley Harding, but here he immerse himself completely in the style.
  • Face on the Cover: Dylan posing with his guitar.
  • God-Is-Love Songs: In "To Be Alone With You" Dylan "thanks the Lord when my working day's through/ I get my sweet reward to be alone with you."
  • Instrumental: "Nashville Skyline Rag", the first instrumental he officially released.
  • Intercourse with You: "Lay Lady Lay".
    Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed
    Stay, lady, stay, stay while the night is still ahead
    I long to see you in the morning light
    I long to reach for you in the night
    Stay, lady, stay, stay while the night is still ahead.
    • Actually, most of this album is made of this.
  • Let's Duet: "Girl From The North Country" is a duet between Dylan and Johnny Cash, culled from an entire session they did together singing each other's songs.
  • Longest Song Goes First: It's only 3:41, but "Girl From The North Country" counts.
  • Malicious Slander: "Tell Me That Isn't True"
    All of those awful things that I have heard
    I don't want to believe them, all I want is your word
    So darlin' I'm countin' on you
    Tell me that it isn't true.
  • Miniscule Rocking: One of only two Dylan albums in which every single song is under four minutes (New Morning is the other one). "Country Pie" is a little over 90 seconds (but became a live staple for Dylan later in his career), and several others just barely exceed 2:00.
  • New Sound Album: While John Wesley Harding from 1967 sees Dylan dabbling in Country, it is with this album that he fully immerses himself in it. Not to mention his more smooth, accessible singing here.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted with the album's Bob-filled sessions, as Bob Dylan was joined on piano by Bob Wilson on an album produced by Bob Johnston.
  • One-Woman Song: "Peggy Day".
  • Rearrange the Song: "Girl From The North Country" originally appeared on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Here it's redone as a duet with Johnny Cash. It's slowed down and some lyrics get omitted. As the full session tapes show, it was a totally off-the-cuff choice, with June Carter Cash (who was in the studio with them) suggesting the song to Dylan and Cash.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Girl From The North Country", just like the version on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan borrows a few lines from the song "Scarborough Fair"
    Remember me to one who lives there
    For she was once a true love of mine
    • "To Be Alone With You" opens with the lyric "Night Time Is The Right Time", which is a reference to the eponymous 1937 blues song by Roosevelt Sykes.
    • "Country Pie" name-drops the nursery rhyme character Little Jack Horner, who eats a Christmas pie in the original song.
    Little Jack Horner's got nothin' on me
    Oh me, oh my
    Love that country pie.
    I am free as far as I can see is Nashville skyline underneath it all
    You yourself are free
    • Zits Walt gets angry at a song Jeremy is listening to, resulting in this exchange,
    Walt: Did I hear what I think I just heard?!
    Jeremy: Dad, it's just a song lyric.
    Walt: Don't give me that! I'm sick of this new music that's nothing but drugs and sex!
    Jeremy: You mean like, "Lay Lady Lay", "Lucy In The Sky", "Purple Haze", "Brown Sugar"?
    Walt: Hey, that's different! Those are classics!
    Connie: Ouch. Score one for the teenager.
  • Silly Love Songs: This album is filled with them. But what do you expect from a Country album? Fittingly, "Lay Lady Lay" and "Peggy Day" were both recorded on Valentine's Day 1969.
  • Special Guest: Johnny Cash sings co-lead vocals on "Girl From The North Country".
  • Studio Chatter: At the start of "To Be Alone With You" Dylan is heard asking his producer Bob Johnston: "Is it rolling, Bob?"
  • Textless Album Cover: There is no text on the album cover.
  • Title Track: "Nashville Skyline Rag", but, since it's an instrumental, there's no Album Title Drop.
  • Train Song: "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You"
    I can hear that whistle blowin'
    I see that stationmaster, too
    If there's a poor boy on the street
    Then let him have my seat
    'Cause tonight I'll be staying here with you.
    Throw my ticket out the window
    Throw my suitcase out there too
    Throw my troubles out the door
    I don't need them any more
    'Cause tonight I'll be staying here with you.
  • Vocal Evolution: In this album, Dylan's vocal style turns from a nasal, almost unintelligible whine to a smooth country crooning.