The love affair between Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan was almost as impassioned as the undying love that he shared with his wife, June Carter Cash. Below we see those worlds combine as the duo perform a fiery cover ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’.
Cash took on a few songs of Dylan’s over the years, even composing a few together too. But one will perhaps live longest in the memory and this performance of ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’ on Australian TV is a perfect example of Cash’s love of the folk hero.
Speaking with Rolling Stone in 1968, The Man in Black once said, “Country music is slow to jump on any trend. But we’ve been affected greatly by the sound of the Beatles and the lyric of Bob Dylan.” Cash had, in truth, been a fan of the freewheelin’ troubadour for many years, having caught his iconic performance at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival.
That same year Cash turned Dylan’s classic ‘Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright’ into his own number one hit, ‘Understand Your Man’. With Beatlemania slowly approaching and the feverish attention about to be switched to the Fab Four from Liverpool, Cash teamed up with his future wife, June Carter to perform one of their most cherished covers, ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’.
As part of his Orange Blossom Special LP, Cash confirmed his love for the folk icon and covered three of his songs. Taking on ‘Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright’, ‘Mama, You’ve Been on My Mind’ and ‘It Aint Me Babe’, Cash was making his feelings for Dylan very clear. The latter song would go on to seal Cash and Carter’s first hit duet, breaking the Hot 100.
The below performance sees the two singers nine years down the line form the first recording and having been married to each other for five years. It, therefore, acts as a moment of reflection for the couple. Not only do they look as comfortable as one can on a stage but they even share a joke as Carter messes up a line on the song.
As one of the most heartening couples in rock and roll, in unfathomable love until the day they died, it’s a touching moment to look back on. The song may have been covered by a range of artists, including Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon in Walk The Line but nobody does it like Johnny Cash and June Carter. Not even Bob Dylan.
There’s one thing we’d have all loved to see however and that’s Johnny Cash sharing the stage and singing the song with another of his true loves, one Bob Dylan. For now, enjoy June Carter and Johnny Cash singing ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’ back in 1973.