BOB DYLAN and JOHNNY CASH – ” The Dylan/Cash Sessions ” (1969)

Posted: January 4, 2019 in MUSIC
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Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash had been circling each other for the better part of a decade before finally joining forces in the studio. The Man In Black had made the first move, writing the young troubadour a fan letter shortly after Dylan came on the scene in 1962. When they met in person at the Newport Folk Festival two years later, he gave Dylan one of his guitars as a sign of respect.

In February 1969, Dylan was in Cash’s hometown recording his ninth album, the country-imbued “Nashville Skyline”. By chance, Johnny Cash happened to be working in the studio next door. Dylan paid him a visit, and on February 17th and 18th, the pair recorded more than a dozen duets together. Of the bunch, only one of them – an update of the Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan track “Girl From the North Country” – made the finished album. The rest would languish in the tape vaults until being liberated by enterprising bootleggers.

The collection is a fascinating study of two musical heavyweights revisiting their respective legacies. Dylan’s “One Too Many Mornings” is given a run-through, as are Cash’s hits “I Walk the Line,” “Ring of Fire” and “Big River.” Early Sun Records tracks like “That’s All Right” and “Matchbox” are also dusted off, with Carl Perkins himself backing the men on guitar.  Judged as a loose, informal meeting of two giants, it’s very pleasurable listening, though more for Cash’s contributions than Dylan’s. With full band backing (including Carl Perkins on electric guitar), the pair run through easygoing, rockabilly-tinged versions of Dylan songs, Cash songs, old Sun rockabilly chestnuts

“Of course, I knew of him before he ever heard of me,” Dylan wrote shortly after Cash’s death in 2003. “In ’55 or ’56, ‘I Walk the Line’ played all summer on the radio, and it was different than anything else you had ever heard. The record sounded like a voice from the middle of the Earth. It was so powerful and moving.”

A few weeks after the release of Nashville Skyline, Dylan and Cash performed “Girl From the North Country” on The Johnny Cash Television Show. It was taped on May 1st, 1969 at the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. A rough video clip (around the 30 minute mark) captures the moment. Despite Dylan’s reported nervousness, the performance was well-received. “I didn’t feel anything about it,” Cash said later. “But everybody said it was the most magnetic, powerful thing they ever heard in their life. They were just raving about electricity and magnetism. And all I did was just sit there hitting G chords.”

COLUMBIA Studio’sNashville TN 2-17-1969 1- MOUNTAIN DEW 2- I STILL MISS SOMEONE 3- CARELESS LOVE 4- MATCHBOX 5- THAT’S ALRIGHT MAMA 6- BIG RIVER 7- I WALK THE LINE 8- YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE 9- RING OF FIRE 10- GUESS THINGS HAPPEN THAT WAY 11- JUST, A CLOSER WALK WITH THEE 12- BLUE YODEL 13- BLUE YODEL #5 ~THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW:~ 05-01-69 14- I THREW IT ALL AWAY 15- LIVING THE BLUES 16- GIRL, FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY

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