Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash: Two Legends and a Duet from 1969

In the music community, every so often there are just some absolutely amazing moments that are once in a lifetime events, often consisting of one time collaborations with other artists. These occurrences often up the ante a little bit more because, as I've said before, great musicians seem to feed off one another when playing music together, and the end result is often stellar with each person adding their own unique part to a particular song.

A duet between Bob Dylan, already a bit of a legend in 1969, and the great Johnny Cash, legendary from day one, certainly qualifies as one of those special events. Taken from The Johnny Cash Show this video is of the a duet of Dylans "Girl from the North Country". The video quality is quite good and I think musically it stands out as well, not just because I have a penchant for artist collaborations, but as a unique piece of musical history.

Here's the video, thanks to Youtube and kenaroni for this clip:

Where Dylan's first recorded version of this song is pure folk with its nimble finger picking, this is the slowed down "country ballad with a hint of blues" version that appeared on Nashville Skyline. This live version has a little more spontaneity in its feel than the album version that I think it adds another level of authenticity and although both singers are definite in their "country voices", there is still a bit of a contrast between the two. Dylan always seems more rough and gritty even at his most country crooner, while Cash sounds a little more polished with his standard booming intensity.

Dylan and Cash actually collaborated for an entire session while Dylan was recording Nashville Skyline prior to this show. It was that session at which the album version of this duet was recorded. That session actually produced a full release of studio outtakes, but that release is harder to come by and has been judged by some as a bit rough and tentative in its recordings. This live duet does seem slightly tentative as well actually. Dylan idolized Cash and I think that really comes through in the performance as he does seem a little star struck by the man in black, even though they worked together before. In the end, only this one song from that session would appear on a Dylan album, although video of the session itself would appear on TV in a Johnny Cash special shortly after.

In the end, I think this clip is a good collaboration and just a great piece of rock and roll, folk and country music history. If you're a fan of either, or of both like me, than this is definitely a memorable duet. This clip is also another great example of why us who were not alive back in '69 are lucky to have these videos as record of some of the great, unique musical events we missed seeing.


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