¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Nashville Skyline begins with a reprise of Girl From the North Country, a song from Freewheelin’. Dylan sings it with his new smooth, country-style voice, trading verses with the man in black himself, the face of country music, Johnny Cash. They sing the last chorus as a duet. Like most duets with Dylan, it’s a bit ragged, as his partner tries and fails to synchronize with Dylan’s idiosyncracies. But it’s a charming performance, relaxed and loose.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 I imagine that many Dylan fans were quite chagrined when this song first rang out of their turntable. It was 1969 and the hippy-era was in full swing. Rebellion against the establishment was at a fever pitch. And here was the “voice of their generation” gone country, singing the sounds of the hard-right establishment. Once again Dylan was (gleefully I assume) confounding his faithful.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 He was intimately familiar with the style. He included Roy Acuff’s Freight Train Blues on his first album. He had recorded his last two records in Nashville with session players who typically played on the records of contemporary country stars.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Cash and Dylan had exchanged letters prior to actually meeting in person at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival. Cash had given Dylan his guitar, a traditional sign of respect among country musicians. Cash happened to be recording his own album in the same studio when Dylan was working on Nashville Skyline so the two were bound to hook up.
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Bob Johnson, Bob’s longtime producer, saw the proximity of the two as a golden opportunity. He readied the studio to record. He tried to make an intimate, inviting setting in order to lure the two into recording.
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 It worked, sort of. Cash and Dylan recorded eighteen songs together, a mixture of Cash, Dylan, and traditional tunes. And while it is great fun to watch and listen to them in the studio together (see below), the end results are spotty at best. Lots of forgotten lyrics, wrong notes, and bad timing. Girl from the North County is arguably the best of the lot. One Too Many Mornings works as well.