it Is commonly believe that the biggest scandal generated by Bob Dylan in the 60’s was its electrification, its seismic (re)conversion to rock. But that dust-up, although extremely unpleasant, it wasn’t controversial at all, in the style of the current zascas of the Internet: the excuse for booing the guy more cool of the moment. Anything comparable, with your incursion into the country, now recovering in the triple disk Travelin’ Thru.

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it was Not a mere aesthetic option: it was understood as a betrayal of generations. Symbolically, he came to proclaim that Dylan was low to the thriving counterculture that he himself helped to define. Country music represented the most conservative sector of the united States, a population that soon he would manifest his hatred for the hippie and pacifist clapping Okie from Musgokee, the first of a series of topics reactionaries of Merle Haggard.

In truth, Dylan had already worked in Nashville, the capital of the country. In 1966, he had finished off there, Blonde on Blonde, where he stood out Visions of Johanna, with these verses premonitorios: “The radio station country music sounds soft / but there’s nothing, really nothing, why turn it off”.

Indeed, Dylan is reconciled with a music that was part of your diet sonora when I was a teenager. Starting in 1966, retired in the mountains of Woodstock, regained the taste for the simple messages of these songs of the aromas in the countryside. Besides, there was an incentive professional: he hated the recording process and the musicians of Nashville showed maximum efficiency in canning songs.

expand photo Dylan, portrayed for ‘Nashville Skyline’.

he Had an accomplice. Its producer, the texan Bob Johnston, had settled in Nashville with the declared intention to modernize the country. He did not but knew how to sell the virtues of the Nashville music songwriters cosmopolitan as Dylan and Leonard Cohen; in fact would end up working as a keyboardist in the live band, the author of Suzanne.

John Wesley Harding (1967) was the first of the discs entirely billed in Nashville: sound austere, daguerreotypes with resonances of the biblical characters and of the deep America. The indignation of the staff blew up outside with Nashville Skyline (1969), where even changed the voice to best interpret a repertoire full of cliches romantic; Dylan seemed to accept the self-imposed limitations of the country, even in his duration, a few rácanos 27 minutes. The third, Self Portrait (1970), it was universally lambasted: an ugly mixed bag between New York, Nashville and the isle of Wight.

Dylan would never record in Nashville. But that period is now goal of the new delivery, the number 15, The Bootleg Series, their careful collection of tapes recovered.

Urgently, to recognize that there was little where to scratch. The musicians of Nashville did not have a lot of patience. The fourteen alternate takes of John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline offer a change of pace, phrasing curious and little more. The only oddity is Western Road, a blues dragged that certainly fits poorly on your disk more cowboy; until it uses its classic nasal voice.

A priori, the most attractive of Travelin’ Thru are the duets with Johnny Cash. The singer from Arkansas I admired Dylan; according to a legend, interceded to Columbia, the record label common, when some executives wanted to dispense with the services of the guy from Minnesota. For Dylan, the approval of Cash was blessed glory: for the establishment of Nashville was a subversive.

expand photo Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and Bob Johnston, and the recording of February 1969. The Clayton SONY MUSIC ARCHIVES

Bob Johnston joined the two men in the presence of the band of Cash, that was another hero of Dylan, Carl Perkins. Attacked cured material of the Appalachians, and the successes of the first rockabilly, parts of Jimmie Rodgers, songs of each character and even a story dylaniana of outlaws, Wanted Man, a few days after Cash performed before inmates at the prison in San Quentin. The producer was by the clouds: in a couple of days, had recorded an album that could be of interest both to the public of Johnny and Bob. Until detected the problems of the project: the voices of Cash and Dylan not empastaban. And Bob was at a disadvantage: he lacked the encyclopedic knowledge of Cash about that particular song sheet, was forced to follow the track of the Man in Black. It has not been released legally until now.

The third compact Travelin’ Thru is faulty for other reasons. Have poor sound recordings extracted from the television program of Cash and a documentary on Earl Scruggs, master of the banjo of bluegrass. Just surprised two discards of Self Portrait, muscular versions of Ring of Fire and Folsom Prison Blues. Exact: two songs identified with… Johnny Cash. It’s going to be this whole detour to Nashville obeyed an impulse oedipal.

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