WATCH: Bob Dylan Guest Stars on ‘Johnny Cash’ Variety Series Today in 1969

by Clayton Edwards
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Bob Dylan is best known as a folk singer and rock and roll artist. However, in 1969, he dropped Nashville Skyline. That album saw Dylan making some major changes to his repertoire. Not only did his vocal style change but his musical style changed as well. Nashville Skyline was a country album. It contained some really solid tracks including a duet with country legend Johnny Cash.

Nashville Skyline saw another huge change in direction for Bob Dylan. Until its release, Dylan was known as a leading figure in the counterculture movement. Many of his earlier songs were topical. He spoke out against the issues of the world in the best way he knew how – through his music. However, his 1969 release saw him stepping away from protest songs. At the time tensions and polarization were at their height in the United States. Instead of feeding into that or playing off of it, Dylan made a country album.

So, it is only fitting for Bob Dylan to make an appearance on Johnny Cash’s variety show to support his first country music release. Not only do the two share a duet on Nashville Skyline but they also have an odd sort of common ground. Bob Dylan is mostly known as a folk singer and has had a few forays into country music. On the other hand, Cash is largely remembered as a country music icon. However, a large portion of his music falls into the folk category. They are two artists who both stand as examples in their respective genres while also crossing over into others almost effortlessly.

Bob Dylan Performs “I Threw It All Away” on Johnny Cash’s Variety Show

Bob Dylan appeared on Johnny Cash’s variety show just days after releasing Nashville Skyline. So, the first time he played the hit single “I Threw It All Away,” live was on that show. The video below shows how comfortable Dylan was with his new country sound.

“I Threw It All Away.” is a solid song about love and loss. It fits perfectly with the country music format. However, it’s a crying shame that Bob Dylan didn’t perform the album opener “Girl from the North Country,” on the show. After all, it is a duet with Johnny Cash. “Girl from the North Country,” is also a song about love and loss. So, it would have gone just as well. On top of that, we could have seen Dylan and Cash sharing a stage for the song. That would have been a real treat for audiences.

As it stands, Bob Dylan’s appearance on the show helped to fuel sales of Nashville Skyline. It introduced him and his new sound to Johnny Cash’s audience. So, with his stamp of approval, many people who wouldn’t have given Dylan a second glance went out and bought the record.

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