Thinking about Dylan’s foregrounding of style on Nashville Skyline reminds one, of course, that such reinvention might be as central to his artistic identity as almost anything. Later on in his career, Dylan has continued to reimagine the country songs from Nashville Skyline. All but two, that is, intriguingly — and some far more often and more recently than others.
In Dylan’s late style (roughly 97-present), these songs are utterly compelling. Here are some relatively recent versions of the Nashville Skyline tunes. A sincere thanks to those who make these available.
Girl from the North Country
Reimagined for the duet with Johnny Cash on Nashville Skyline after first appearing on Freewheelin’, this one remains a staple of Dylan’s live repertoire up to this very fall:
Nashville Skyline Rag
According to the official Dylan website, this instrumental has never been performed live in concert by Bob Dylan (though Travelin’ Thru includes a version recorded with Earl Scruggs for a PBS special in 1970). In lieu of a late-career live version, here’s a jam/cover from a celebration of Dylan’s 75th birthday at the Ryman, featuring Tommy Emmanuel and Charlie McCoy.
To Be Alone with You
A different rhythm on this tune in 2002 — but Larry Campbell’s fiddle nods to its country origins:
I Threw It All Away
This tune has been retired since this performance in the Netherlands in 2002, with Bob on harmonica and Larry Campbell on pedal steel:
has not been performed by Bob Dylan!
Lay, Lady, Lay
Bob on guitar, and the tune stays in the lane of the album cut:
One More Night
From 1995, and maybe the only time this one has been performed live?
Tell Me That It Isn’t True
Bob on piano and harp for this one. The band here includes Stu Kimball and Denny Freeman on guitar, and Donnie Herron on pedal steel.
If I had to choose any 2:20 of music to listen to, could I top Dylan, Larry, and Charlie on “Country Pie” in 2000? I’m not sure. Probably not coincidentally, my first Dylan show was about a month and a half after this one, in Ann Arbor, where he played a “Country Pie” just like this one:
Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You
Bob and his Band cover Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”:
Thanks for reading,
Welcome to Borushko Variorum, a collection of occasional writings (on music, books, sports) and reflections. Coming soon: on metaphors in Townes’s writing; on The Band’s The Band at 50; notes on listening to Travelin’ Thru; on Session Americana’s Northeast; and more. You can subscribe to the newsletter version (it’s free):
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