Quick Review (LP): Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan
Nashville Skyline
Columbia; 1969

My Rating: A- (83/100)

Best Tracks: "To Be Alone With You", "Girl from the North Country", "Lay Lady Lay", "Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You", "Country Pie"

Bobby goes south in search of a warm bed.

– The updated version of "Girl from the North Country" is a great moment for so many reasons. Of course, it’s a lovely duet with the Man in Black himself, which is enough to make it a classic alone. At the same time though, it’s a sort of farewell to the iconic Dylan, the closing credits for the rebel without a cause, the reprise of the film’s harrowing overture. Of course, there would be sequels to Dylan’s first act, but nothing was ever as great as that first act as a whole.
– His voice does sound awful nice here compared to the first eight albums. Almost sounds like a different person.
– "Rest" is a big theme here. Even the opening track, which in its original setting was more about leaving the girl behind, sounds dream like, as if he’s coming home to her.
– This one’s not so different from John Wesley Harding, but it is certainly more oriented towards the popular country music of the time than the cross-eyed folk found on the former.
– I kinda wonder if there was some sort of folk-celebrity interplay going on between Dylan and Simon at this time, since "Lay Lady Lay" and "The Boxer" (both big singles in 1969) have such similar choruses lyrically. Of course, Dylan "covered" "The Boxer" on his next release…
– This is a wonderful warm record. Personally, I’m a fan of the domesticated Dylan, and though I do think New Morning is better, this one is a strong record nonetheless.

Cohesion (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consistency (4.5/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

Quick Review (LP): The Times They Are A-Changin’ by Bob Dylan

bob dylan the times they are a-changin' Bob Dylan
The Times They Are A-Changin’
Capitol; 1964

My Rating: B-

Best Tracks: “The Times They Are A-Changin'”, “Boots of Spanish Leather”, “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”, “The Restless Farewell”

I do wonder if this record is our document of Bob Dylan getting traditional folk out of his system. After all, it produced only one true classic, the title track, and even that song comes off as a re-write of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” The focal point of the songs is undoubtedly the lyrics, which are, for the most part, obsessed with the social injustice of the age. And it is a stark record, for the most part completely devoid of any sense of humor, and to a great extent that makes it pretty forgettable. Even “Boots of Spanish Leather”, one of the album’s best tracks, fails to impress, generously borrowing from the melody of “Girl From The North Country.” Other standout tracks march by with conviction, but in all honesty I still have a hard time distinguishing “Hattie Carroll” from “Hollis Brown.” I suppose for traditional folk purists, this must be a pretty fabulous effort from ol’ Bobby. Unfortunately, this is not the Dylan that butters my bread, for the good man protesteth too much.

Wikipedia article
AMG review
Blogcritics review