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Rock Hall Anniversary: Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline

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For the man who would revolutionize folk, as well as rock, the next album would be considered quite of a surprise, especially how well it would perform commercially.

In April 1969, Bob Dylan released his ninth studio album Nashville Skyline. The album showed the musician’s immersion into country music, following the rustic style of 1967’s John Wesley Harding. While it had perhaps surprised many fans and critics, the album would be a success nonetheless. It topped the charts in the UK, and peaked at number three in the US, eventually going platinum.

Nashville Skyline was recorded at a time where the political climate was at its most hectic, especially when it came to the events that occurred in 1968 (including the riots in several major cities, and of course the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy). And at that time, the musical landscape was responding to those times. However Dylan, who was best known for the political and social commentary in his music would surprise many with songs that were more personal and simple. Those songs included “Lay Lady Lay” (a top ten hit), “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You”, and the opener “Girl from the North Country” (which featured Johnny Cash).

Critical reception for Nashville Skyline was mostly positive, crediting Dylan for his versatility in concept, while a few expressed disappointment over the album’s rustic concept. Either way, the album remains one of Dylan’s most commercially successful albums, as well as his one of his most critically acclaimed.

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