Charlie Daniels knows the competition of being a Nashville session musician. Sick days and cancellations can lead to groundbreaking work and that was certainly the case when Daniels got the call to play on Bob Dylan’s 1969 album, Nashville Skyline.
Daniels was still relatively new to Music City and made a living as a go-to studio picker. At the time, producer Bob Johnston originally had another guitar player booked for the 25-session gig.
“The only problem was by the time they got to him, he was already booked for that very first session,” Daniels recalls. “So, Johnston asked me to come fill in for him. And I did. And, of course, I played with all my heart and soul as much as I possibly could.”
By the end of the first session it was evident Daniels had to stay.
“I was packing my gear up to leave,” Daniels says. “Dylan asked Johnston, ‘Where’s he going?’ He said, ‘He’s leaving. I got another guitar player coming in.’ And Dylan said, ‘I don’t want another guitar player. I want him.’ It’s just unbelievable, I don’t know, almost surreal.”
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Daniels adds. “But I found him to be totally and completely different from what I read in the press. He was friendly. He was conversational. He had a sense of humor. He was having fun in the studio. And that album went like clockwork. Everybody was so into it. All the players and Dylan, it just happened. It was so relaxed. … Dylan’s doesn’t like to spend a whole lot of time on a song. If the first take is good, it’s the first take.”