Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline [Number One Album in UK – 9th June 1969]

Bob_Dylan_-_Nashville_Skyline

I Threw It All Away – wp.me/p3uHDF-g4

Lay Lady Lay – wp.me/p3uHDF-g3

Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You – wp.me/p3uHDF-g2

“Bob Dylan’s ninth album poses fewer mysteries and yet, paradoxically, offers greater rewards than any of his previous work. Its only difficulties aren’t metaphysical or interpretative — indeed, the beauty and openness within is kept almost rigorously simple in genre — but rather those of taking the artist’s new-found happiness and maturity for exactly what they appear to be. That smiling face on the cover tells all — and isn’t it wonderful?

Most obviously, Nashville Skyline continues Dylan’s rediscovered romance with rural music (here complete with a more suitable, subtle “country” voice). The new LP represents a natural progression, both historically and emotionally, from the folk-music landscapes of John Wesley Harding into the more modern country-and-western worlds of Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

In Harding, Dylan superimposed a vision of intellectual complexity onto the warm, inherent mysticism of Southern Mountain music, rather like certain French directors (especially Jean-Luc Godard) who have taken American gangster movies and added to them layers of 20th-century philosophy. The effect is not unlike Jean-Paul Sartre playing the five-string banjo. The folk element gains a Kafka-esque chimericality, and the philosophy a bedrock simplicity that leaves it all but invisible and thus easy to assimilate. “Down Along the Cove” and “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” exceptions to the above and the record’s last two songs, are almost a microcosm of the geography to come.

Nashville Skyline is a jewel of construction with three distinct beginnings. The much-anticipated guitar-and-vocal duet with Johnny Cash, a stately and beautiful rendition of “Girl from the North Country,” is a thoughtful bonus to the listener, a musical postcard to an old Minnesota love, and a reminder that Dylan has always been capable of tenderness. The song’s most painful verse — “Many times I’ve often prayed/In the darkness of my night” — has been deleted here.

The second beginning — or, if you prefer, an intermission in which each performer gets a chance to solo — “Nashville Skyline Rag,” serves as an instrumental introduction to the album’s excellent personnel: Kenny Buttrey, Charlie McCoy, Pete Drake, Norman Blake, Charlie Daniels, and Bob Wilson. It’s country music at its joyful, shit-kicking best.

Dylan finally announces the LP’s “real” beginning, “To Be Alone With You,” when he asks producer Bob Johnston, “Is it rolling, Bob?” Unlike the Beatles, he may not want to take us home with him, but he makes it quite clear that what follows should be viewed as a personal confrontation: “Everything is always all right/When I’m alone with you.”

“I Threw It All Away,” the first of the record’s three classic love songs, couples a haunting melody and magnificent singing to the hard-won realization that “Love is all we need/It makes the world go round.” In contradiction to the earlier “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” Dylan, cast as someone who has formerly tried to do without deep affection, now wants very much to be “A lover for your life and nothing more.” This is clearly going to be an album of staying, not leaving.

A good-natured exercise in country wordplay (“Love to spend the night with Peggy Day … Love to spend the day with Peggy Night”), complete with a Presley rave-up finale, “Peggy Day” presents two delightful sides of one ideal woman; or maybe two delightful women, each with one ideal side. “By golly, what more can I say!”

Side two begins with another classic. “Lay Lady Lay” has the organ sound of Highway 61 Dylan, and the lyrics are not as stringently genre-bound. “Whatever colors you have in mind/I’ll show them to you and you’ll see them shine” is more a metaphysical leap than a naturalistic hop, while “His clothes are dirty/But his hands are clean” seems a self-conscious attempt to needlessly bring it all back home.

“One More Night” and “Tell Me That It Isn’t True” are My-baby-left-me songs, but, as is befitting the structures of country music, there is little or no bitterness, and Dylan even calls one of the girls his “best pal.” The former, with its “Tonight, no light will shine on me” line, echoes the “dark side of the road” imagery of “Don’t Think Twice,” but its protagonist, unlike the hero of “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” can only mournfully state, “I just could not be/What she wanted me to be.” The latter bears a superficial resemblance to “Positively 4th Street” in that the singer has been put down strongly by someone dear to him. Rather than rage, the reaction here is a gentle “Darling, I’m counting on you/Tell me that it isn’t true.”

In some ways, the final song of the LP should logically be “Country Pie,” an unabashed tribute to country music (“Love that country pie!”) and a clear statement of Dylan’s present credo: “Ain’t running any race/Get me my country pie/I won’t throw it up in anybody’s face.”

As with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Nashville Skyline saves the best until last. “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” fuses personal commitment with professional preference, and functions as a sort of very content “A Day in the Life.” Musically, it’s brilliant, with a powerful Jerry Lee Lewis stride piano leading the way. Although the symbolism is hobo-traditional, the mise-en-scene of melody, lyrics, and performance overpowers and explodes any genre limitations in a glorious flow of every sort of imaginable triumph.

Perhaps, after all, it is more difficult to convey meaningfully a total fulfilment of marriage and family life than it is to create a nightmare world of complex hallucination, even though the latter seems more painfully our own. In many ways, Nashville Skyline achieves the artistically impossible: a deep, humane, and interesting statement about being happy.

It could well be what Dylan thinks it is, his best album”.

Paul Nelson – May 31st, 1969 – Rolling Stone.

Tracklisting:

Side One

Girl from the North Country (with Johnny Cash) – 3:41

Nashville Skyline Rag – 3:12

To Be Alone with You – 2:07

I Threw It All Away – 2:23

Peggy Day – 2:01

Side Two

Lay Lady Lay – 3:18

One More Night – 2:23

Tell Me That It Isn’t True – 2:41

Country Pie – 1:37

Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You – 3:23

All songs written by Bob Dylan.

Personnel

Bob Dylan – guitar, harmonica, keyboards, vocals

Additional musicians:

Norman Blake – guitar, dobro

Kenneth A. Buttrey – drums

Johnny Cash – vocals

Fred Carter, Jr. – guitar

Charlie Daniels – bass guitar, guitar

Pete Drake – pedal steel guitar

Marshall Grant – bass guitar on “Girl from North Country”

W.S. Holland – drums on “Girl from North Country”

Charlie McCoy – guitar, harmonica

Bob Wilson – organ, piano

Bob Wootton – electric guitar on “Girl from North Country”

Bob Johnston – Producer

Charlie Bragg – engineer

Neil Wilburn – engineer

Bob Dylan – I Threw It All Away (single) – Nashville Skyline (album) [Number One Album in UK – 9th June 1969]

I_Threw_It_All_Away_single_cover

The first single from the Nashville Skyline album.

This video version is from The Johnny Cash TV Show (1969).

Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline [Number One Album in UK – 9th June 1969] – wp.me/p3uHDF-g5

Lay Lady Lay – wp.me/p3uHDF-g3

Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You – wp.me/p3uHDF-g2

Bob Dylan – Lay Lady Lay (single) – Nashville Skyline (album) [Number One Album in UK – 9th June 1969]

LayLadyLay45

The second single from the Nashville Skyline album.

Released July 1969.

Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline [Number One Album in UK – 9th June 1969] – wp.me/p3uHDF-g5

I Threw It All Away – wp.me/p3uHDF-g4

Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You – wp.me/p3uHDF-g2

Bob Dylan – Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You (single) – Nashville Skyline (album) [Number One Album in UK – 9th June 1969]

Tonight_I'll_Be_Staying_Here_with_You

The third single released from the Nashville Skyline album.

This video version is an outtake from the MTV Unplugged album.

Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline [Number One Album in UK – 9th June 1969] – wp.me/p3uHDF-g5

I Threw It All Away – wp.me/p3uHDF-g4

Lay Lady Lay – wp.me/p3uHDF-g3

29th May – Released Today – 2012 (Regina Spektor – What We Saw From The Cheap Seats)

WhatWeSawFromTheCheapSeatsCover

What We Saw from the Cheap Seats is the sixth studio album by American alternative singer-songwriter Regina Spektor.

The album was recorded in Los Angeles during the summer of 2011 with Mike Elizondo, who has worked with artists such as Dr. Dre, Eminem, Fiona Apple, Nelly Furtado, Maroon 5 and Alanis Morissette.

What We Saw from the Cheap Seats is a collection of new material along with the very first studio recordings of several of Spektor’s older live songs.

“Spiking piano-driven songs of heartbreak with comic turns of phrase, cartoon voices and beatboxing outbursts, Regina Spektor has become her generation’s Joni Mitchell– a singer-songwriter who nail-guns emotional truths between wisecracks. Her latest, even tighter and more flamboyant than 2009’s Far, may be her best. Exhibit A: “Firewood,” which treats mortal illness (a recurring theme for her) with elegant surrealism, imagining a piano used for kindling while boldly telling a comrade to “Rise from your cold hospital bed/I tell you, you’re not dying.” Elsewhere, “Ballad of a Politician” is sharp satire, instructing a handshaking officeholder to “Shake it, shake it, baby!” Even apparent novelty songs carry a payload. “Oh Marcello” is a Mafioso narrative with outrageous accents and real pathos; “Open” employs a hysterical gasp for air as a percussive vocal device, to unnervingly powerful effect. “All the Rowboats,” which denounces museums as “public mausoleums,” is telling, coming from a classical-music defector. But more so is “Small Town Moon,” with its mouthful of “baby baby”s and “Whoo!”s, working a delicious metaphor for pursuing your own muse, damn the torpedoes. Here’s hoping Spektor never stops” – ***1/2, Will Hermes, Rolling Stone May 2012

Regina Spektor has come a mighty long way from the grotty East Village bars of the anti-folk scene at which she first started plying her hiccupping, jazz-garnished piano pop trade in at the start of the millennium. Yet even though her sixth album, ‘What We Saw From The Cheap Seats’, was recorded in the glossier surrounds of Los Angeles, on the cover she’s sporting a grandiose military-esque hat atop her ringlets, just like on her first major label record, 2004’s ‘Soviet Kitsch’. In another nod to her past she’s rehashed ‘Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)’ for this album, from 2002’s self-released ‘Songs’.

She’s done this before of course, when ‘Samson’ was swiped from the same record to go on 2006’s ‘Begin To Hope’. But why? “These songs come back because they’ve been on a really sparse record,” Spektor explained to NME last month. “I feel like I need to produce them properly, and I can’t rest until that’s done.” It’s true that the new version of ‘Don’t Leave Me…’ is a more polished, brass-boasting beast than the original, but it’s not the most sensational song here, despite being picked as the record’s second single.

As usual, it’s Spektor’s unforced way with a ballad – the sort that will have sensitive young women sobbing into their iPods on the last bus home – that cuts to the emotional quick. The elegant ‘Firewood’ is deceptively simple, managing to skip the schmaltz even when Spektor morphs into a wise auntie, brandishing a tissue and cup of sugary tea, promising: “Everyone knows you’re going to love/Though there’s still no cure for crying”. As remarkable is ‘How’, which is one bottle of Cristal away from being a ’90s R&B belter. Close your eyes and you can imagine Mariah crooning it in a multi-million dollar music video involving candelabras and corsetry while pointing to the sky. In Spektor’s hands it’s not a flashy exercise in the high art of cringe, but a welcoming salvo of true romance” – 8/10, Leonie Cooper, NME

Tracklisting:

1. Small Town Moon

2. Oh Marcello

3. Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)

4. Firewood

5. Patron Saint

6. How

7. All the Rowboats

8. Ballad of a Politician

9. Open

10. The Party

11. Jessica

All songs written by Spektor except 2 – Spektor w/ interpolation by Bennie Benjamin, Sol Marcus, and Gloria Caldwell (“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”)

Personnel:

Regina Spektor: vocals, piano (1-10), keyboards (2-10), marimba (3), co-producer, songwriter

Mike Elizondo: producer, bass (1, 3, 5, 7-10), upright bass (2, 4, 6), electric guitar (1, 6, 7), acoustic guitars (11), programming (3, 5, 7)

Aaron Sterling: drums (1, 3-7, 9), percussion (1, 5, 7), marimba (3)

Jay Bellerose: drums (2, 7, 10), percussion (2, 10), bongos (10)

Danny T. Levin: trumpet (3)

David Moyer: baritone and tenor saxophone (3)

Jack Dishel: vocals (3, 5)

John Daversa: trumpet (10)

Regina Spektor – All the Rowboats (single) – What We Saw from the Cheap Seats (album)

Regina-Spektor-All-The-Rowboats-608x608

All the Rowboats is the 1st single from Regina Spektor’s What We Saw from the Cheap Seats album.

Released February 2012.

Regina Spektor – Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas) (single) – What We Saw From The Cheap Seats (album)

regina - 2nd single

Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas) is the second single from Regina Spektor’s What We Saw From The Cheap Seats album.

It was released March 2012.

Regina Spektor – How (single) – What We Saw From The Cheap Seats (album)

Regina - How

How is the third single from Regina Spektor’s What We Saw From The Cheap Seats album.

Released October 2012.