Sessions 1969 (Hook N Jab)
(67:34): BS studios, Nashville, TN – February 17th -18th, 1969: One Too Many Mornings, Good Ol’ Mountain Dew (Lunsford / Wiseman), I Still Miss Someone (J Cash / Roy Cash), Careless Love (Trad), Matchbox (Carl Perkins), That’s Alright Mama (A. Crudup), Big River (J Cash), Girl Of The North Country, I Walk The Line (J Cash), You Are My Sunshine (Davis / Mitchell), Ring Of Fire (Carter / Kilgore), Guess Things Happen That Way (Clement), Just A Closer Walk With Thee (Trad), Blue Yodel #1 (T for Texas) (J Rodgers), Blue Yodel #2 (J Rodgers). Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN – May 1st, 1969: I Threw It All Away, Living The Blues, Girl Of The North Country: Nashville Skyline Quadraphonic Mixes: Nashville Skyline Rag, I Threw It All Away, O Peggy Day, Country Pie, Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You
The late sixties saw the confluence of two of the greatest artists of the latter half of the twentieth century, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. Both are identified by their singular devotion to their own personal muse, not allowing social or political expectations dictate their music. Doing so cast them both as particular American artists: those who embody the outlaw ethic of self-determination.
They had a mutual admiration society dating to at least 1964, and in 1969 recorded together when they were in the same Nashville studio. Dylan was writing and recording Nashville Skyline and Cash Hello, I’m Johnny Cash. Working together lead to their duet on “Girl From The North Country” being included on Dylan’s album and Dylan appearing on the first episode of “The Johnny Cash Show” on ABC in June.
Hook N Jab present the long circulating sessions which have been out before on Nashville 1969 (Yellow Dog YD 049), Aces & Diamonds (TMQ), Yesterday (Winged Wheel WW9420), The Dylan / Cash Sessions (Spank Records SP-106) and A Fool Such As I (DY-FOO-1) along with the deleted 1973 LP Dylan.
Sessions 1969 on Hook N Jab sound extremely clear and are close to official quality, definitely an upgrade over the older titles and is highly recommended.
The sessions themselves are of historic interest, but it’s obvious why they’ve never been officially released. Dylan strangely insecure in reticent around Cash who dominates the sessions (which also affected his appearance on the show in June). They play mostly cover tunes from the country and western catalog and several Cash classics such as “Walk The Line” and “Ring Of Fire.”
Cash can be heard at points coaching Dylan. During “Careless Love” Dylan has to ask for the verses!
Some of the faster rockabilly numbers really cook such as the Carl Perkins cover “Matchbox” and Arthur Crudup’s “That’s Alright Mama” (despite Dylan tripping over the lyrics). It is also interesting to hear Dylan sing some gospel songs such as “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” many years before his conversion.
Only two Dylan songs, “One Too Many Mornings” and “Girl From The North Country” (a different take than the one included on Nashville Skyline) are attempted. Hearing the two artists duetting and having fun in the studio on a recording that wasn’t mean to be released provides great insight into Dylan’s motivation during this time period. This tape is also an important piece of Americana on par with the famous “Million Dollar Quartet” from Sun Records in December 4th, 1956.
The February sessions with the three songs recorded for “The Johnny Cash Show” on May 1st for telecast a month later and five songs, “Nashville Skyline Rag,” “I Threw It All Away,” “O Peggy Day,” “Country Pie” and “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” from the Nashville Skyline quadraphonic mixes.
Sessions 1969 is packaged in a cardboard digipack with nice photos from the era. While nothing new is contained on this disc, it is an important piece of Dylan and Cash history and is a good way to obtain the out-of-print recordings.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)