News 2 explores Bob Dylan’s ties to Music City

Photo: WKRN
Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Bob Dylan, the first musician to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, has deep ties to Music City.

His lyrics are poetry for the ears in songs like “Visions of Johanna.” Hailed as one of the greatest songs of all time, it was recorded in Nashville for Dylan’s album “Blonde on Blonde.”

“When Bob Dylan came to Nashville in 1966 and made this masterpiece, it changed a lot of people’s perceptions about Nashville and all kinds of folk and pop and rock artists started coming to Nashville to use our studios and to record with the Nashville musicians,” Michael Gray with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum told News 2.

The album has been acclaimed by critics as one of the greatest rock albums and was one of three and a half albums Dylan recorded in Nashville studios, history that’s on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

“The exhibit is called Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats, the subtitle is called A New Music City. Basically, after Bob Dylan and the people he influenced to come here, they basically supercharged the city with the creative energy they brought, you know just changed the whole landscape with what was happening here with the songwriting, what was happening in the studios. I mean that was really a time of change in Nashville, and Dylan played a major role with all that happening,” explained Gray, who is the co-curator for the exhibit.

Dylan influenced greats like Kris Kristofferson, Tom T Hall and Johnny Cash.

“Bob Dylan is one of the most important writers in the 20th century and continues to be a very influential writer in the 21st century,” Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show told News 2.

Secor crafted the hit song “Wagon Wheel” around Dylan’s chorus and melody.

“I’m probably one of the few songwriters in Nashville who could say that he wrote a song with a Nobel Prize winning songwriter.”

Although the two have actually never met.

“He’s the cornerstone of so much of what we do as songwriters, as pickers, travelers. Bob was the main reason I wanted to become a musician, be like Bob,” he explained.

Ketch says it’s rare that you turn on the radio and hear literature, but with Dylan, you are.

“The power of these songs really seems like it’s more deserving of a peace prize than it does the literature thing. I think of Bob as a really important vehicle for change.”

The exhibit Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City is on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame through Dec. 31.