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Bob Dylan’s opinion on Johnny Cash

Bob Dylan


Bob Dylan’s opinion on Johnny Cash

When you think about great American songwriters, certainly two names that will be mentioned are Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. The Country musician, nicknamed “The Man In Black”, was born 9 years before Dylan but his musical career started in 1954, only three years before the Folk Rock artist.


They were both big fans of each other and great friends. But what Bob Dylan really said over the decades about Cash’s work?

Bob Dylan’s opinion on Johnny Cash

In 2003, after Johnny Cash’s passing at the age of 71, Bob Dylan was asked to send a statement to Rolling Stone. The musician said that he believed it wasn’t enough to only say that Cash was a king, for example. He said that he really was a “North Star you could guide your ship by”.

He also recalled that Cash was a big fan of his work and even defended him when critics said he couldn’t sing. Johnny sent them a letter telling them to “shut up” and didn’t even know Dylan in person at the time.

“I was asked to give a statement on Johnny’s passing. (I) thought about writing a piece instead called ‘Cash Is King,’ because that is the way I really feel. 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. I first met him in ’62 or ’63 and saw him a lot in those years. Not so much recently, but in some kind of way he was with me more than people I see every day.”

He continued:

“There wasn’t much music media in the early Sixties, and Sing Out! was the magazine covering all things folk in character. The editors had published a letter chastising me for the direction my music was going. Johnny wrote the magazine back an open letter telling the editors to shut up and let me sing, that I knew what I was doing. This was before I had ever met him, and the letter meant the world to me. I’ve kept the magazine to this day,” Bob Dylan said.

They were really good friends and performed together many times live and in the studio. Probably their most famous collaboration was in the song “Girl From The North Country”. That track was written and recorded by Dylan. But not long after that he made a new version as a duet with Cash, being featured on the 1969 album “Nashville Skyline”.

Cash also covered many Dylan songs such as “Blowin’ In The Wind”, “Forever Young”, “It Ain’t Me Babe” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”.

Bob Dylan said that one of his favorite Johnny Cash songs was “Big River”

Dylan was a big fan of Cash and in the conversation with Rolling Stone recalled that he first heard him on the radio when “Walk The Line” was a big hit in 1955. But in an interview for the documentary “No Direction Home” released in 2005, the musician recalled the joy of meeting Johnny and said that “Big River” was one of his favorite songs from him. He even said that only by hearing one line from that song, he would get the chills.

“Johnny Cash was by that time, if not now, maybe the epitome of Country music. He was the living ultimate end and also I loved all his Gospel songs too. Meeting him at that point (In the 60s) a high thrill of a lifetime. His songs meant a lot to me. Even that line ‘I met her accidentally in St. Paul, Minnesota’ (From the song ‘Big River’).”

“I mean, that would just give me the chills every time I heard that. We would see each other time to time, here and there. We would get together and find songs out, a lot just went by in a blur,” Bob Dylan said.

Dylan really loved Johnny Cash and also in the Martin Scorsese documentary “No Direction Home” said that he felt like the musician was like a religious figure to him.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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