The Cash & Dylan Show
Words By: Sam Pethers | February 28th, 2017
In March 1965, Johnny Cash released his 21st studio album, Orange Blossom Special, which notably included three songs by the then 24 year old Bob Dylan.
Johnny Cash, then 33, had been obsessively listening to Dylan's album throughout 1963. He later claimed that he had a portable record player and would listen to before and after every show he played. The two finally met after exchanging letters in 1964. Johnny's son, John Carter Cash, told the story of Dylan's reaction to meeting Cash in Rolling Stone: "Dylan rushed into his room, jumped on the bed and began bouncing up and down chanting, 'I met Johnny Cash, I met Johnny Cash.'""Dylan rushed into his room, jumped on the bed and began bouncing up and down chanting, 'I met Johnny Cash, I met Johnny Cash.'"
Cash told Dylan he wanted to record some of his songs, so Joan Baez, present at the time, wrote down the lyrics to "It Ain't Me Babe" and "Mama You've Been On My Mind" - both of which Baez had also recorded.
The following year, in 1966, Dylan and Cash met up in England and started singing some songs together. Dylan eventually realised for the duet to work he'd have to change his voice to suit Cash's. What became of that was his new country singing style which ended up the basis of (1969). Johnny Cash had been present throughout the sessions and they did several takes of songs together, but only their duet on "Girl From The North Country" ended up on the album.
Following Cash's string of albums produced by Rick Rubin - the sessions which would famously produce Cash's 2002 cover of the Nine Inch Nails track "Hurt" - Dylan referred to it as "notorious low grade stuff". He went on to say, however "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."
Listen below to both Cash and Dylan's versions of "It Ain't Me Babe" and "Mama You've Been On My Mind."
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