It was April 1, 2014, when the Charlie Daniels Band released “Off the Grid: Doin’ It Dylan.” Tribute albums are a dime a dozen, but this one held special significance for Daniels: Bob Dylan hired him to play on “Nashville Skyline” in the 1960s.
Dylan’s Nashville Years
Bob Dylan began his career strumming folk songs on an acoustic guitar in the early 1960s. He quickly rose to fame with early albums such as “The Times They Are A-Changin” before “going electric” at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Shortly after that, he was ready to reinvent himself again and went to Nashville.
During his three years in Nashville from 1966-69, Dylan made a trio of classic albums: “Blonde on Blonde,” “John Wesley Hardin,” and “Nashville Skyline.” A then-unknown Charlie Daniels was brought in to play guitar on “Nashville Skyline,” which gave him a new perspective on the recording process.
“Bob Dylan represented that kind of creative freedom to me as to somebody who was not concerned so much with how long it took to get a song done, whether it was three minutes or thirty minutes, whatever it took to get it done,” Daniels told Billboard in 2019. “That made a lot of people, including myself, think, ‘Wait a minute, let’s try not crowding things up. If we need 10 minutes, let’s just do a 10-minute song and do a long instrumental part if we need to.'”
The knowledge shared between Dylan and the Nashville players was a two-way street. The Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum video below highlights the Nashville musicians and producers who contributed to Dylan’s Nashville albums.
Charlie Daniels Finds Success
Daniels founded the Charlie Daniels Band in 1972. The band’s enduring success began with the 1974 album “Fire on the Mountain.” Its rock-country hybrid sound produced the hit singles “The South’s Gonna Do It” and “Long Haired Country Boy.”
In the 1979 video below, the Charlie Daniels Band performs “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” its most well-known song.
A Legacy of Great Songs
Daniels kept recording and performing until his death in 2020. In addition to the Dylan tribute album, he released multiple albums with his band, including four Christmas records. And in 2016, he became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
And Dylan? He’s still reinventing himself … and even won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.