Flashback: See Rosanne Cash's Stark Bob Dylan Cover - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: See Rosanne Cash’s Stark Bob Dylan Cover

In honor of their May 24th birthdays, we look back at Cash performing Dylan’s “Girl From the North Country” and recalling how he once flirted with her

In the 2009 book, Rosanne Cash, The List and the Spirit of Southern Music, the daughter of American icon Johnny Cash recalls the hint of alarm that rose in her father’s voice backstage at the 1993 tribute concert to Bob Dylan after she told him Dylan had invited her to his dressing room for what she assumed was a critique of the song she had rehearsed for the all-star concert. “You look very lovely,” was actually what the flirtatious folk-rock legend said instead. “Dad, I think Bob likes me,” she told the elder Cash. “Oh, I know he does,” he replied with some paternal concern. Aside from their mutual admiration for one another’s artistry, Rosanne Cash and Bob Dylan share a May 24th birthday. She turns 62 today and he is 76.

The 2009 LP The List was a 12-track collection of cover songs culled from a list Cash gave his daughter when she was 18 years old. The list consisted of what he considered the 100 essential country songs for her to learn, in an effort to give his daughter the best country-music education possible. From Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On” to the Harlan Howard-penned “Heartaches by the Number” to early country standards including “Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow” and “Motherless Children,” the album spanned an entire century of music and represented everything from mountain ballads to modern examples of the slick Nashville Sound.

One of the songs on the album that sounded the oldest was Bob Dylan’s “Girl From the North Country.” Recorded in 1963 for his sophomore LP The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, the writing and recording of the tune was directly influenced by a pair of English folk singers Dylan met named Martin Carthy and Bob Davenport. Lifting much of the tune and the song’s theme from a traditional English folk ballad “Scarborough Fair,” Dylan would expose his song to an entirely new audience when he recorded it as a duet with Johnny Cash for the 1969 album Nashville Skyline. The pair also performed it together on the premiere episode of ABC’s Johnny Cash Show on June 7th of that year.

In September 2015, Rosanne Cash was joined by Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams, among others, when she performed as artist-in-residence at Nashville‘s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Coinciding with coincides with the museum’s still-running exhibit, “Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City,” her performances touched on those influences and she noted that the artists on display there were “the template for myself as a songwriter… and a person in a lot of ways.” Sometimes referred to by the title “Girl of the North Country,” the plaintive version of the song Cash performed during her residency, she noted, was closer to Dylan’s 1963 recording of it.

Cash, along with her sisters, Cindy, Kathy and Tara, will visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Saturday, May 27th, for “Becoming Our Father: Johnny Cash’s Daughters in Conversation,” sharing stories about growing up with the Man in Black. An exhibit, I’ve Been Everywhere: Becoming Johnny Cash, features photographs and notes kept by the entertainer as a young man. 

In This Article: Rosanne Cash


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