They say Bob Dylan has many faces. I say he has just one, but a fantastic mind working consistently in overdrive behind it. But how did this great brain deal with the country phenomenon, especially given his folky origins? Starting with the John Wesley Harding album in 1967 and continuing with Nashville Skyline shortly after, old nee Zimmerman bowed down before the roots of country for some tasty fruitful American pie inspiration. It tastes reeeeal good.
To Be Alone With You is a classic mix of the 12 bar blues and country. The lyrics are simply intimate. I Threw It All Away has that same country drive, with some lovely key changes – it’s also a great “I fucked it up with her” song. His use of images from nature is particular apparent on this song – “I had mountains running through the palm of my hand”, “rivers ran through every day” – this is a rootsy testament at the altar of the goddess Gaia.
Meawhile Peggy Day has a great country twang. Again, simple lyrics and chords but that’s easy for me to say. When I say simple, this is a complement. I should elaborate that it SEEMS simple. It’s certainly not simple to replicate this style. Dylan is the master innovator, only folks like him can pull this off with such effortlessness.
What more to say about the Nashville Skyline album? One More Night has some great licks. A great solo on Tell Me That It Isn’t True. Country Pie reminisces about American culture that makes even the most cynical of old worlders pine for more. The album is both a fabulous nod to the past whilst serving as a reference for his musical successors to find their way forward into the next era. And the Skyline’s the limit.