Song of the Day #616: ‘Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You’ – Bob Dylan

A few years before Nashville Skyline was released, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash struck up a friendship that blossomed into a collaboration. Cash wrote the liner notes to Nashville Skyline, which took the form of a crackerjack poem celebrating his friend’s unique career.

Sample verse: “This man can rhyme the tick of time / The edge of pain, the what of sane / And comprehend the good in men, the bad in men / Can feel the hate of fight, the love of right / And the creep of blight at the speed of light.”

To open Nashville Skyline, Cash and Dylan performed a duet on a countrified version of ‘Girl From the North Country’ and I think it’s safe to say a bit of Cash’s writing style rubbed off on Dylan as he composed the tunes on this album.

I believe Dylan hit his peak in this voice with the final track of Nashville Skyline, ‘Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You.’ This is another song to add to the long list of excellent final tracks on Dylan’s albums. If you were to compile all of those album finishers on one compilation CD, it would be hard to distinguish from a “best of” collection. It would also be about 6 hours long… he likes to save the long ones for last.

This song was an exception. Like the rest of the album (which clocks in at under 30 minutes), ‘Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You’ is short, sweet and to the point. Reading the lyrics, I’m reminded of the wonderful final scene of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset, when Ethan Hawke’s Jesse is told by Julie Delpy’s Celine, “You’re gonna miss that plane” and he just smiles and says “I know.”

Throw my ticket out the window,
Throw my suitcase out there, too,
Throw my troubles out the door,
I don’t need them anymore
’Cause tonight I’ll be staying here with you.

I should have left this town this morning
But it was more than I could do.
Oh, your love comes on so strong
And I’ve waited all day long
For tonight when I’ll be staying here with you.

Is it really any wonder
The love that a stranger might receive.
You cast your spell and I went under,
I find it so difficult to leave.

I can hear that whistle blowin’,
I see that stationmaster, too,
If there’s a poor boy on the street,
Then let him have my seat
’Cause tonight I’ll be staying here with you.

Throw my ticket out the window,
Throw my suitcase out there, too,
Throw my troubles out the door,
I don’t need them anymore
’Cause tonight I’ll be staying here with you.

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3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #616: ‘Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You’ – Bob Dylan

  1. Amy says:

    I’m not sure whether the song brings to mind the ending of Before Sunset because of its content or its effectiveness in closing the album. Regarless, I sure enjoyed watching that wonderful scene again.

    When we were in Ryland Auditorium in Nashville, I was fascinated to learn about the connection between Cash and Dylan. There was a clip of them playing together next to a glass case filled with memorabilia documenting some of the highlights of Cash’s career. I found the whole thing quite fascinating.

    I like this short and sweet song very much. And I do think it’s an ideal way to end an album. Wouldn’t that make for a great blog post – best album closer (and/or best final scenes in film) I know I’d have fun playing 🙂

  2. Dana says:

    Sorry, he just sounds like Kermit to me. The song is okay, but nothing special. It ain’t what i want to hear when I want to hear Dylan–not by a mile.

  3. Justin says:

    Dylan’s live versions of this song in 1997-98 are spot on….

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