Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Two of our greatest singers on one...um, unforgettable song

No, this has nothing to do with Nat King and Natalie Cole. But it's unforgettable nonetheless.

Lately I've been leaning toward a Bob Dylan song from his Nashville Skyline album, the recorded collaboration between Dylan and Johnny Cash. As you listen to "Girl From the North Country," you are struck by something. Dylan sings in his Dylan voice. Cash sings in his Cash voice. And then, in one magical moment, the two voices unite together in unison.

Well, sort of unison.

Dylan and Cash have/had dominant personalities and distinctive singing and musical styles. But what they don't/didn't have was technical facility. So when those two cantankerous souls reach the part where they sing in unison, it isn't quite there.

You can find the track on Spotify or on your favorite music service. Or perhaps you can find a subsequent recording that the two made on Cash's TV show. Back in 2007, D.A.N. helpfully shared a video of that performance. Unfortunately, by the time I reached D.A.N.'s post in 2015, I saw this when I tried to play the video.

So I have to rely upon D.A.N.'s description of that performance:

This live version has a little more spontaneity in its feel than the album version that I think it adds another level of authenticity and although both singers are definite in their "country voices", there is still a bit of a contrast between the two....

This live duet does seem slightly tentative as well actually. Dylan idolized Cash and I think that really comes through in the performance as he does seem a little star struck by the man in black, even though they worked together before.

If you read between the lines of the euphemistic words "spontaneity," "authenticity," and "tentative," you can just picture how the live performance sounded.

Actually, the recorded version of the duet is available on YouTube. The true magic occurs at 1:51.

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