Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and the Nashville Cats – A New Music City - Columbia Records celebrates the musical stampede that followed Bob Dylan to Nashville with the album Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and The Nashville Cats – A New Music City. The album is released in conjunction with Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame exhibit of the same name honoring the artists and times. Complementing what was going on in the studios of Nashville, Johnny Cash was offering guest spots to Folk and Rock’n’Roll musicians on his groundbreaking television program. Players such as Norman Putnam, Buddy Spicher, and Earl Scruggs were appearing on album credits for The Byrds, Neil Young, Steve Miller, and three of the four solo recordings from The Beatles. The recording of Blonde on Blonde was not the starting point of the scene that followed, it lit fuse that made it impossible to separate the genres, or for either Country or Rock music to claim sole parenthood for the songs.
The Nashville Cats – A New Music City retroactively shows that Rock and Country audiences were listening to the same music without realizing the crossover that the artists heard in the music. San Francisco band Mother Earth boasted the Bluesy Country voice of Tracy Nelson, who is on the album with a cover of Hank Williams “I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry” with Bob Dylan tunes offered as cover by Flatt and Scruggs (“Down in the Flood”), and Johnny Cash (“It Ain’t Me Babe”).
As the history behind us becomes more inclusive, it is tough to hear the separation between the songs and the artists that caused such an upheaval of the status quo when they were originally released. The tracks, and artists offered on Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and The Nashville Cats – a New Music City stay very close to the Columbia Records barn they called home. Canadian Gordon Lightfoot offers “The Way I Feel”, John Hartford sings “Gentle on My Mind”, Country Joe McDonald performs Woody Guthrie’s “Blowing Down this Old Dusty Road”, Charlie McCoy is “Harpoon Man”, and Leonard Cohen sees “Bird on a Wire”. The Byrds have two tracks on the album with Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” and Gram Parsons “Hickory Wind”. Included on the album is an original commercial for The Byrds Country Rock calling card, Sweethearts of the Rodeo that showcases snippets of the album songs with listeners repeating ‘that’s not The Byrds’. Kris Kristofferson is captured with a demo for his “If You Don’t Like Hank Williams” where he marries artists from the rock and country sides in his song lyrics.