Still a mystery to me why these recordings have never been officially released…
The Dylan-Cash Sessions took place in Nashville’s Columbia Studio A on February 17-18, 1969 at the tail end of the Nashville Skyline recording sessions. During the same week that Dylan turned in such indelible recordings as “I Threw It All Away,” “Lay Lady Lay,” “To Be Alone With You” and “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You,” Johnny Cash, who had been recording in an adjoining studio turned up for some recording fun.
What transpired was several days of session in which the two traded songs and laid some duets down on tape with an eye toward making a record together. In the studio with Dylan and Cash were the cream of the Nashville session elite including Norman Blake on guitar and dobro, Kenny Buttrey on drums, Fred Carter, Jr. on guitar, Charlie Daniels on bass, Pete Drake on pedal steel, Marshall Grant on bass, W.S. Holland on drums, Charlie McCoy on guitar and harmonica, Bob Wilson (crucially) on the organ and piano and Bob Wootton on electric guitar.
The fifteen selections that have been widely circulated include jovial run-throughs of Cash standards like “Big River,” “I Walk The Line,” “Ring Of Fire,” “Guess Things Happen That Way” and “I Still Miss Someone,” plus Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country” and today’s Song Of The Day, “One Too Many Mornings,” and versions the rock and roll classics “Matchbox,” “That’s All Right Mama” and “Mystery Train.”
Not enough music came out of the loose sessions deemed worthy of release at the time except “Girl From The North Country,” which opened Nashville Skyline. So the rest sat on the shelves at Columbia and in the hands of lucky collectors.
It totally knocks me out that footage exists of these sessions at all, but here is a YouTube clip of the two in the studio. Cash handles the lion share of the lead vocals here and on most of the recordings, and Dylan seem somewhat out of his element with his vocals. That said, you can hear the mutual respect the two artists have for each other in every note of the joyful music they made.
Nashville Skyline went on to be a big success, giving Dylan his biggest hit to date with “Lay Lady Lay.”