Looking Back at Nashville Skyline
There were many significant things about Nashville Skyline. It was the second Bob Dylan album to have nothing printed on the front cover, and not only that, he was wearing the same suede jacket that..
[This started out not as an article but a semi-comical post to the Bob Dylan forum at the Never Ending Pool website. A lot of people like it, so I decided to include it here.]
It was a bright, sunny late winter or early spring, or somewhere in-between day when Nashville Skyline found its way to the browsers of record stores. I first heard it in a store on the upper west side of Manhattan, at 115th Street and Broadway, where a bunch of people were hanging around, clutching the copies they were about to buy for three dollars and ninety-nine cents.
A lot of people were wondering what happened to Bob's voice, as it had turned from well, Bob's voice into this smooth, crooning baritone or something. Now some people, myself included, had already been through that shock a month or so before when National Educational Television (the predecessor to PBS) aired the documentary, Johnny Cash, the Man & His Music, which later that year would be released to movie theaters. Midway through the film (which by the way is quite good), a gum chewing Bob Dylan suddenly appears behind a barricade of microphones and let loose with that voice on the second verse of "One Too Many Mornings," causing Dylan fans everywhere to say, what the hell was that? Actually they didn't say what the hell, they said something else.
Now you have to keep in mind that most people hadn't seen Bob Dylan since 1966 or even 1965, unless they went to the Woody Guthrie Memorial Concert at Carnegie Hall, and the tickets for that sold out before most people knew they were even on sale. So a lot of people who saw that TV show were left wandering the streets and wondering if they really saw and heard what they saw until Nashville Skyline was released, which only left them wondering if maybe this was gonna be the way it was forever. Not long after that, some reporter caught up with Dylan's mom, who said, "Oh that's his real voice, that's the way he always sang." Not many people believed that, but it turned out, like moms usually are, that she was right, because a couple of decades later, a tape recorded about a year before Bob Dylan had a recording contract appeared that well, found him singing some old English ballads in that very voice.