Bob Dylan Countdown #165: “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You”

While it’s easy to focus on the sugary voice Dylan somehow unearthed for Nashville Skyline, perhaps the bigger transformation was what he managed with his songwriting. It’s not enough to say the songs were simpler than what he had written in the past. They were completely different animals, master classes in craft and economy. Every aspiring songwriter on Music Row must have been fuming that Bob could moonlight in their genre with such facility.

Take “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” as a prime example. Dylan never overstuffs the lines, keeping always cognizant of the meter and the rhythm. As a result, the song’s sing-along factor goes right through the roof. That remained the case even when he revamped the song into an almost violent plea during the Rolling Thunder tour. Even that radical change didn’t alter the rock-solid core of the songwriting.

In addition, he keeps the lyrics on the accessible side without ever dumbing them down. In the first verse, he talks about throwing his suitcase and ticket out the window, presumably because they’re now unnecessary. He then subtly adds, “Throw my troubles out the door,” thereby putting his intangible troubles in the same category as the tangible items he already discarded. The ploy has a vivid effect without ever being showy.

Those little touches are all over this ode to the way that no stop on the road can match up to the love of a good woman. It’s a common tale in modern song, yet as told by a master, it feels brand new. And, with Pete Drake’s pedal steel sighing behind him, it’s pretty irresistible. Certainly not bad at all for a country music carpetbagger.


3 Comments on “Bob Dylan Countdown #165: “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You””

  1. jan says:

    I love this song, it throws the baggage out the door, and relishes in the love that is here and now. Who could resist?

  2. martin says:

    It’s on of the small number of songs I almost unconsciously find myself singing as I go about my daily tasks. I love it to bits for its straightforward musical and lyrical quality.

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