Johnny Cash’s Unexpected Impression Of Bob Dylan

Johnny Cash’s Unexpected Impression Of Bob Dylan | I Love Classic Rock Videos

via DJ Gerry from Starlight Music / Youtube

The relationship between Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan, two iconic figures in the realm of music, is marked by mutual admiration and unexpected discoveries. Cash, an early fan of Dylan, initially believed he was listening to an older country singer when he first heard Dylan’s music. This revelation astounded Cash, considering the type of music Dylan was creating and the fact that he was just in his early 20s.

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Johnny Cash’s introduction to Bob Dylan’s music occurred during the early stages of Dylan’s career. Unaware of Dylan’s age and status as a young artist, Cash initially mistook him for an aged country musician.

Cash was captivated by Dylan’s ability to find success in a genre that resonated deeply with him. Recounting the experience, Cash shared:

“The first time I heard him… I thought it was an old country singer. And then I realized somebody told me who he was — and I said, this is really unbelievable that he could get airplay singing that kind of music”

Appreciating Dylan’s Unique Approach

Cash’s appreciation for Dylan’s music stemmed from the young artist’s fresh take on old themes. Recognizing the insight and depth Dylan brought to his songs,

Cash’s fondness for Dylan’s artistry continued to grow as he recognized the distinctiveness and authenticity of Dylan’s musical expression. Cash expressed his admiration, saying:

“I just heard a fresh approach to some old themes, but really done well with an insight that had never been put on record… I just loved his work, loved him. Always have. Still do. I just think he’s still the best thing out there”

The reason behind Cash’s initial misconception about Dylan’s age and experience lies in Dylan’s deliberate attempt to emulate the style and sound of older folk singers. Dylan idolized Woody Guthrie, and his early music sought to capture the essence of Guthrie’s music and vocal delivery. By affecting an accent and adopting a weather-beaten persona, Dylan aimed to sound like the folk musicians he admired. This approach, though polarizing for some, revealed Dylan’s dedication to the authenticity and integrity of the music he sought to create (Down the Highway by Howard Sounes).

A Fan-Letter Connection

Impressed by Dylan’s talent, Cash began writing fan letters to the young artist, expressing his admiration and appreciation. Cash even shared a personal anecdote about his devotion, writing:

“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” (Cash: The Autobiography).

This exchange sparked a connection between the two artists, leading to further collaborations and a lasting relationship.

While their letter exchange eventually ceased, Cash and Dylan’s artistic connection endured. Dylan made an appearance as a guest on Cash’s television show, “The Johnny Cash Show,” and they collaborated on the iconic song “Girl From the North Country.” Their shared respect and admiration for each other’s work solidified a bond that transcended generational and stylistic boundaries.