Bob Dylan: Nashville Skyline

WARMTH INVADES DYLAN RECORDING
Nashville Skyline Reveals a More Polished Singer

BOB DYLAN has released his first album in over a year, Nashville Skyline, a simple blend of country music and gentle thoughts.

The album, distributed to record stores this week by Columbia Records, is the first Mr. Dylan has produced since John Wesley Harding was released over a year ago.

Several things set the new album – which was recorded in Nashville, the home of country music – apart from his previous albums.

The most obvious is that Mr. Dylan's voice has changed again. His early albums showed a sneering, nasal voice. John Wesley Harding was deeper and more polished vocally. On this new album he seems to have found more bass, and is even more polished, perhaps too much so.

Often cited as a major young poet, Mr. Dylan is best-known for his cryptic lyrics. His words are much-dissected for hidden meaning. But in Nashville Skyline, theme, there is little to dissect. It could have been titled "Bob Dylan Sings Songs for Young Lovers." Most of the songs are about love lost, gained and hoped for. They are simple and sensitive. Consider this from 'I Threw It All Away'.

Love is all there is
It makes the world go round…
No matter what you think about it
You won't be able to do without it
Take a tip from one who tried.

The words are so simple, the singing style so slick, and Mr. Dylan so cunning with words there is always the chance he is putting everyone on. Can the man who sang with hip bitterness a year ago now be crooning about a girl who "…makes my future look so bright, Man that girl is out of sight." Is he kidding?

Possibly, but I don't think so. Taken at face value, Nashville Skyline is a warm, friendly album. In voice and in words, Mr. Dylan has mellowed, calmed down, grown up. It isn't that he has forgotten how to be alienated. He just seems to have learned how to be happy.

© Mike Jahn, 1969

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