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James P. Westin Jr.
- Publié sur Amazon.com
A moment in time: That's what my dad would say about photographs. Pictures are just a single moment in time captured forever. The same could be said for a record.
It's capable of capturing a moment in time. I'm not talking about representing a specific era of time, but the record itself represents honest moments captured live. So many artists are obsessed with recording their masterpiece. Tracks are recorded, re-recorded, mixed, remixed, mastered, and then remastered. Where does it all end? From the very first track of "Nashville Skyline" it is evident Bob Dylan isn't concerned with recording a masterpiece. But in my opinion, that's exactly what he did.
"Girl from the North Country", a duet with Johnny Cash is the lead track. Bob takes the first verse. From the moment he starts singing it's apparent he is really trying to sing. His voice is almost wounded as if he is searching for some sort of refuge. Johnny comes in with the second verse; his voice soulful, rich, and deep. Bob comes back with the third verse and Cash soon joins him. Their voices work so well together. But too, you'll hear each singing different lyrics or phrasing the same words differently while singing together. This may bother some perfectionists. I take comfort in the genuineness of their performance.
"Nashville Skyline Rag," the album's only instrumental. I like the separation of the instruments in the mix on this song. This is a constant throughout the record. Guitars, bass on the left, drums and harmonica on the right side at the beginning provide a nice foundation for the song. As soloists are introduced they are mixed appropriately within the current context of the song.
"To Be Alone with You:" One of my favorite songs on the record. Right from the beginning when Dylan asks producer Bob Johnston, "Is it rolling, Bob?" you can't help but get the sense that Dylan is not concerned with making a perfect record. Again, the instruments are mixed so each one is recognizable yet they never distract from the overall presentation of the song. Plus, the piano track on this song is wicked.
"I Threw It All Away:" Instruments are mixed nice. Guitar and organ are spaced nicely, separate but not too far away. Dylan's voice is haunting. His words are simple and true. I believe far and away part of the reason this record is so effective is because Dylan's voice and lyrics are honest, warm, and inviting.
"Peggy Day" and "Country Pie" are two upbeat songs which are neither complicated musically or lyrically. This is another reason why this record is so intelligent. It provides the less educated music listener new insight into a songwriter who is often perceived as too complicated for tender ears. These songs will never go down in history as some of Dylan's best, but still they hold their own as good songs nonetheless.
"Lay Lady Lay." I remember hearing this song growing up as a child in the early 70's. I was always taken with the song right from the first note. The drums and cowbell provide sense of uneasiness from the beginning accompanied with a mournful pedal steel and pleading organ, the song almost seems complete once Dylan's voice starts. I can recall imagining a rugged, hard working man coming home from a long day's work with clean hands wanting to spend some time with his woman in his awesome brass bed.
"One More Night," "Tell Me That It Isn't True," "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You," are three of the last four songs on "Nashville Skyline." Like their other siblings on the record these songs are solid through and through. The songs are not complex in either words or progressions which is one reason they are so brilliant. Dylan's lyrics are wistful and raw. His melodies are alluring and offer a sense of familiarity. What makes all these songs truly remarkable is the simplicity of the words, the arrangement, and the mix.
The songs on "Nashville Skyline," offer music fans a unique and simple insight into one of the greatest songwriters of our generation. The total track time is less than twenty-eight minutes. Not one song clocks in at over four minutes. Two songs don't even hit the two minute mark, while the remaining fall somewhere in the 2 ½ to 3½ minute range; ten songs in all. There is no time for the novice music fan to get bored while listening to "Nashville Skyline." I believe this record did capture a real moment in time. Bob in his own words kind of supports my belief:
"We just take a song, I play it and everyone else just sort of fills in behind it. At the same time you're doing that, there's someone in the control booth who's turning all those dials to where the proper sound is coming in."
MCMLXIX. One year after MLK and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. Ten years invested in Vietnam over 35,000 American young men dead. Woodstock was still on the horizon. Bob Dylan. 28 years old. 28.5% of his life spent being famous. Sitting in a studio somewhere in Nashville for the first time in almost fifteen months: That's what I think about when I listen to this album. By the time he recorded this record he was already knee deep in his own prolificness. Instead of forcing what wasn't, he submerged himself in what was. Instead of letting the social issues of the times influence his music; he chose to record some songs he wrote while hanging out in Tennessee. At the height of the hippie love, anti-war sentiment our country was in, Dylan wasn't out to send a message. He wasn't lost in his own artistry or trying to be a voice for a generation. He wasn't concerned with his fame, his popularity, or image. I believe somewhere in 1969, in the south there was a perfect storm of song, inspiration, honesty, and clarity. Four essential things to possess while trying to capture a moment in time. Those or a camera.