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January 27, 2024

Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash Hanging Out in New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1965

Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash are shown at a New Brunswick diner in 1965. They were in town for a concert at Rutgers University’s College Avenue campus.

Cash wrote in his autobiography: “I had a portable record player that I’d take along on the road, and I’d put on Freewheelin’ backstage, then go out and do my show, then listen again as soon as I came off. 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.”

The friendship between Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash was not just limited to their mutual admiration for each other’s music. It was a bond that transcended the boundaries of their professional lives and seeped into their personal interactions. The duo maintained a healthy mutual respect for one another, with Johnny Cash having established himself in the 1950s as a staple within the world of country music. Their appreciation for one another lasted longer than 40 years; they admired each other’s work from afar before ever keeping a correspondence.

Their camaraderie was so profound that they even collaborated on Bob Dylan’s landmark record Nashville Skyline. This collaboration was a testament to their deep-rooted friendship and mutual respect for each other’s artistry. Despite their distinct musical styles, they found common ground in their shared love for music and their ability to touch upon the heartstrings of countless listeners.

It was Johnny Cash who initiated the contact between the pair. When Cash compiled the line-up for the debut episode of ABC’s The Johnny Cash Show in 1970, he called upon Dylan to appear. This gesture further solidified their friendship and showcased the deep respect they had for each other’s work.

When Johnny Cash died in 2003, Bob Dylan wrote the following, “If we want to know what it means to be mortal, we need look no further than the Man in Black. Blessed with a profound imagination, he used the gift to express all the various lost causes of the human soul. This is a miraculous and humbling thing.”


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