Sunday, April 27, 2014

Musical Sanity Break: Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

by Nomad

The combination of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash might not, at first glance, seem to be a obvious pairing. Cash was, after all, a famous name in the older tradition of country music while Dylan was a icon of first folk music and later the protest songs of the 1960s. 
However, the two men actually had a warm relationship based on a deep respect, and it was  a friendship that was to last nearly 40 years. Despite that, they only had one two-day recording session that began on Feb. 17, 1969. 

How that friendship began was revealed in Cash's autobiography.
“I had a portable record player that I’d take along on the road. And I’d put on ‘[The] Freewheelin’ [Bob Dylan]‘ backstage, then go out and do my show, then listen again as soon as I came off. After a while at that, I wrote Bob a letter telling him how much of a fan I was. He wrote back almost immediately, saying he’d been following my music since ‘I Walk the Line,’ and so we began a correspondence.”
That mutual admiration remained throughout both careers. Upon Cash's passing in 2003, Dylan had this to say about the man. 
“In plain terms, Johnny was and is the North Star; you could guide your ship by him — the greatest of the greats then and now, Truly he is what the land and country is all about, the heart and soul of it personified and what it means to be here; and he said it all in plain English. I think we can have recollections of him, but we can’t define him any more than we can define a fountain of truth, light and beauty. If we want to know what it means to be mortal, we need look no further than the Man in Black. Blessed with a profound imagination, he used the gift to express all the various lost causes of the human soul.”
That's quite a eulogy.
Here's a site with more details of that relationship.
The clip below comes from the debut of The Johnny Cash Show in which Dylan made a guest appearance. (Along with Joni Mitchell.) The date was June 7th, 1969. The place: the Grand Ole Opry.

They are singing one of Dylan's previously-recorded songs,  "Girl from the North Country."

Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash - Girl From The North Country from brilliant orks on Vimeo.