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Bob Dylan Vs Johnny Cash

Reverend Jax

Who do you like better?  

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I was thinking of pitting them against each other in a fight in Fight Club, but that's not fair 'cause Cash would win hands down. But give 'em each a guitar and a microphone and they are much more evenly matched. Lemme just compare the two:


- Bob Dylan quickly rose to the top of the folk revival music scene in the 60s

- Johnny Cash quickly rose to the top of the country western music scene in the 50s

- Both where able to pull off being "crossover hits," becoming popular among crowds that normally don't listen to their styles.

- Both fundamental changed rock music when they decided to experiment with it themselves.

- Both have sub-par singing voices, and were only able to make it big with incredible songwriting and a huge set of balls.

- Through many different levels of popularity, they both put out consistantly solid material.

- Dylan is covered by everybody.

- Cash covers everybody.


Something tells me not many will vote on this poll, but I feels like postin' it, so be it. I hope people aren't compelled to vote for Cash just cause he died. I'm was sad about that too, but I'd rather it not play a role in this vote.

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It won't. I wont take from Dylan, but the man in black's one of the original storytellers - comes from the same gospel stock as Marty Robbins & Elvis, but the deciding factor here?

Cash played at Folsom Prison & San Quientin, concerts that, to this day, outclass any country/bluegrass/honky tonk that ive heard this side of Hank Williams. Dylan's a great artist, but i dont even see this one as close.



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Well, if you want the original storyteller, you gotta give props to Woody Guthrie, and maybe Leadbelly as the originals. Regardless, I ain't going to fight anyone on this unless/until they start coming down on either of these guys.


Nick, did you ever head Dylan's "Only A Pawn In Their Game"? I know I was pushing the song "With God On Their Side" earlier, but I don't know if you ever ended up hearing it.


One things for sure, the more of both of these guys I hear, the more I like.

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Sometimes I get blown away by how Dylan delivers his own lyrics. I used to believe Dylan's voice was a kind of cruel joke. He'd write these incredible songs that his voice could barely carry, and I thought almost anyone could perform Dylan's own song better then he could. But now I listen to his songs and his voice is still terrible, but there's just personality and soul. I've listened to the Byrd's version of Mr Tambourine Man a hundred times and it still sounds like a silly pop song to me. A good silly pop song, but not much more. Dylan's original has got this...kinda crazy lost deperation to it. Crazy good. I get the same kinda sense from lots of Cash's songs too.

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There is no contest: Bob Dylan. I love Cash, don't get me wrong, but I think that Bob Dylan's music and lyrics has transcended generations and genres a lot better than Cash. And if Dylan isn't a storyteller then i don't know what one is.

I mean obviously I love his political songs, but some of his others are so damned haunting and sad. The entirety of Blood on the Tracks for example. I mean, Tangled up in Blue is one hell of a great story. Same with Shelter from the Storm, and if it's westerns you like, give Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts a listen.

And I agree with Jax, at first Dylan's whine kinda grated on my nerves, but now I love it. Hmmm...gonna go make soup and listen to Dylan!

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I've been listening to Freewheelin' and The Times alot these days. That early raw voice-guitar-harmonica combo is just perfect for my mood these days. I still loves my Bringing It All Back Home and Blonde On Blonde like crazy too.


PS TulipO, Nick says he's not talking to you anymore. I still love you though :D

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  • 2 weeks later...

Don't hold Nick's Lens-Flarelessness against him. I know he has lens flare deep down in his heart. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm not way cooler than him.


I've recently gotten Another Side Of Bob Dylan and John Wesley Harding. JWH in particular is a diamond in the rough, and Another Side is more of that early Dylan I can't get enough of.


TulipO, name your favorite Dylan song. I know I know, it's really hard to pick just one, blah blah blah. Just pick one! Mine's Desolation Row :D

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Abandoned Love. It's gorgeous, here I'll post it.


I can hear the turning of the key

I've been deceived by the clown inside of me.

I thought that he was righteous but he's vain

Oh, something's a-telling me I wear the ball and chain.


My patron saint is a-fighting with a ghost

He's always off somewhere when I need him most.

The Spanish moon is rising on the hill

But my heart is a-tellin' me I love ya still.


I come back to the town from the flaming moon

I see you in the streets, I begin to swoon.

I love to see you dress before the mirror

Won't you let me in your room one time 'fore I finally disappear?


Everybody's wearing a disguise

To hide what they've got left behind their eyes.

But me, I can't cover what I am

Wherever the children go I'll follow them.


I march in the parade of liberty

But as long as I love you I'm not free.

How long must I suffer such abuse

Won't you let me see you smile one time before I turn you loose?


I've given up the game, I've got to leave,

The pot of gold is only make-believe.

The treasure can't be found by men who search

Whose gods are dead and whose queens are in the church.


We sat in an empty theater and we kissed,

I asked ya please to cross me off-a your list.

My head tells me it's time to make a change

But my heart is telling me I love ya but you're strange.


One more time at midnight, near the wall

Take off your heavy make-up and your shawl.

Won't you descend from the throne, from where you sit?

Let me feel your love one more time before I abandon it.




Copyright © 1975 Ram's Horn Music



Close seconds are Tangled up in Blue, and Shelter From the Storm.

Speaking of Bob Dylan, someone anonymously sent me a GIGANTIC poster of his head. Pretty odd, but funny, and a kick ass poster nonetheless :D

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dont go puttin your agenda on the next man when people show good taste, now.


And if Dylan isn't a storyteller then i don't know what one is



i agree with this. You clearly don't. :D


here's a boring song i'm going to post


ok, now for songs with balls:


Cocaine Blues


Early one mornin' while makin' the rounds

I took a shot of cocaine and I shot my woman down

I went right home and I went to bed, I stuck that lovin' 44 beneath my head


Got up next mornin' and I grabbed that gun,

took a shot of cocaine and away I run

Made a good run but I run too slow...

they overtook me down in Juarez Mexico


Late in the hot joints takin' the pills

in walked the sheriff from Jericho Hill

He said "Willy Lee, your name is not Jack Brown

You're the dirty hack that shot your woman down"


"yes oh yes my name is Willy Lee.

if you've got the warrant just aread it to me...

Shot her down because she made me slow;

I thought I was her daddy but she had five more"


When I was arrested I was dressed in black

They put me on a train and they took me back

Had no friend for to go my bail,

they slapped my dried up carcass in that country jail


Early next mornin' bout a half past nine

I spied the sheriff coming down the line

Talked and he coughed as he cleared his throat

He said "come on you dirty heck into that district court"


Into the courtroom my trial began

where I was handled by twelve honest men

Just before the jury started out,

I saw the little judge commence to look about


In about five minutes, in walked the man

holding the verdict in his right hand

the verdict read, " in the first degree ..."

I hollered "Lordy Lordy have a mercy on me!"


The judge he smiled as he picked up his pin...

"99 years in the Folsom pen"

99 years underneath that ground!

I can't forget the day I shot that bad bitch down

Come on you've gotta listen unto me...

lay off that whiskey and let that cocaine be ....


see? cool-ass prison songs can even have a moral. Way better than another song about love.

Now, Tombstone Blues & such, there you'd have a better contender, but "no contest"? that's just someone that hasnt heard enough Cash.



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Oh yeah? What about a song about bank robbers and murder?



The festival was over, the boys were all plannin' for a fall,

The cabaret was quiet except for the drillin' in the wall.

The curfew had been lifted and the gamblin' wheel shut down,

Anyone with any sense had already left town.

He was standin' in the doorway lookin' like the Jack of Hearts.


He moved across the mirrored room, "Set it up for everyone," he said,

Then everyone commenced to do what they were doin' before he turned their heads.

Then he walked up to a stranger and he asked him with a grin,

"Could you kindly tell me, friend, what time the show begins?"

Then he moved into the corner, face down like the Jack of Hearts.


Backstage the girls were playin' five-card stud by the stairs,

Lily had two queens, she was hopin' for a third to match her pair.

Outside the streets were fillin' up, the window was open wide,

A gentle breeze was blowin', you could feel it from inside.

Lily called another bet and drew up the Jack of Hearts.


Big Jim was no one's fool, he owned the town's only diamond mine,

He made his usual entrance lookin' so dandy and so fine.

With his bodyguards and silver cane and every hair in place,

He took whatever he wanted to and he laid it all to waste.

But his bodyguards and silver cane were no match for the Jack of Hearts.


Rosemary combed her hair and took a carriage into town,

She slipped in through the side door lookin' like a queen without a crown.

She fluttered her false eyelashes and whispered in his ear,

"Sorry, darlin', that I'm late," but he didn't seem to hear.

He was starin' into space over at the Jack of Hearts.


"I know I've seen that face before," Big Jim was thinkin' to himself,

"Maybe down in Mexico or a picture up on somebody's shelf."

But then the crowd began to stamp their feet and the house lights did dim

And in the darkness of the room there was only Jim and him,

Starin' at the butterfly who just drew the Jack of Hearts.


Lily was a princess, she was fair-skinned and precious as a child,

She did whatever she had to do, she had that certain flash every time she smiled.

She'd come away from a broken home, had lots of strange affairs

With men in every walk of life which took her everywhere.

But she'd never met anyone quite like the Jack of Hearts.


The hangin' judge came in unnoticed and was being wined and dined,

The drillin' in the wall kept up but no one seemed to pay it any mind.

It was known all around that Lily had Jim's ring

And nothing would ever come between Lily and the king.

No, nothin' ever would except maybe the Jack of Hearts.


Rosemary started drinkin' hard and seein' her reflection in the knife,

She was tired of the attention, tired of playin' the role of Big Jim's wife.

She had done a lot of bad things, even once tried suicide,

Was lookin' to do just one good deed before she died.

She was gazin' to the future, riding on the Jack of Hearts.


Lily washed her face, took her dress off and buried it away.

"Has your luck run out?" she laughed at him, "Well, I guess you must

have known it would someday.

Be careful not to touch the wall, there's a brand-new coat of paint,

I'm glad to see you're still alive, you're lookin' like a saint."

Down the hallway footsteps were comin' for the Jack of Hearts.


The backstage manager was pacing all around by his chair.

"There's something funny going on," he said, "I can just feel it in the air."

He went to get the hangin' judge, but the hangin' judge was drunk,

As the leading actor hurried by in the costume of a monk.

There was no actor anywhere better than the Jack of Hearts.


Lily's arms were locked around the man that she dearly loved to touch,

She forgot all about the man she couldn't stand who hounded her so much.

"I've missed you so," she said to him, and he felt she was sincere,

But just beyond the door he felt jealousy and fear.

Just another night in the life of the Jack of Hearts.


No one knew the circumstance but they say that it happened pretty quick,

The door to the dressing room burst open and a cold revolver clicked.

And Big Jim was standin' there, ya couldn't say surprised,

Rosemary right beside him, steady in her eyes.

She was with Big Jim but she was leanin' to the Jack of Hearts.


Two doors down the boys finally made it through the wall

And cleaned out the bank safe, it's said that they got off with quite a haul.

In the darkness by the riverbed they waited on the ground

For one more member who had business back in town.

But they couldn't go no further without the Jack of Hearts.


The next day was hangin' day, the sky was overcast and black,

Big Jim lay covered up, killed by a penknife in the back.

And Rosemary on the gallows, she didn't even blink,

The hangin' judge was sober, he hadn't had a drink.

The only person on the scene missin' was the Jack of Hearts.


The cabaret was empty now, a sign said, "Closed for repair,"

Lily had already taken all of the dye out of her hair.

She was thinkin' 'bout her father, who she very rarely saw,

Thinkin' 'bout Rosemary and thinkin' about the law.

But, most of all she was thinkin' 'bout the Jack of Hearts.




Copyright © 1974 Ram's Horn Music

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That 'un was a true Western cowboy, or perhaps one with a little more rage, and a little more heart?


Come you masters of war

You that build all the guns

You that build the death planes

You that build the big bombs

You that hide behind walls

You that hide behind desks

I just want you to know

I can see through your masks


You that never done nothin'

But build to destroy

You play with my world

Like it's your little toy

You put a gun in my hand

And you hide from my eyes

And you turn and run farther

When the fast bullets fly


Like Judas of old

You lie and deceive

A world war can be won

You want me to believe

But I see through your eyes

And I see through your brain

Like I see through the water

That runs down my drain


You fasten the triggers

For the others to fire

Then you set back and watch

When the death count gets higher

You hide in your mansion

As young people's blood

Flows out of their bodies

And is buried in the mud


You've thrown the worst fear

That can ever be hurled

Fear to bring children

Into the world

For threatening my baby

Unborn and unnamed

You ain't worth the blood

That runs in your veins


How much do I know

To talk out of turn

You might say that I'm young

You might say I'm unlearned

But there's one thing I know

Though I'm younger than you

Even Jesus would never

Forgive what you do


Let me ask you one question

Is your money that good

Will it buy you forgiveness

Do you think that it could

I think you will find

When your death takes its toll

All the money you made

Will never buy back your soul


And I hope that you die

And your death'll come soon

I will follow your casket

In the pale afternoon

And I'll watch while you're lowered

Down to your deathbed

And I'll stand o'er your grave

'Til I'm sure that you're dead

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That's better. Though youve gotta admit, were it not for your copywritten lyrics, idve caught like 3 bars of that song.


...did you ever hear that legendary set where Dylan played live for the inmates at San Quienten? Folsom Prison? It was badass, cause he performed a lotta shit their for the first time, despite the Tenesse scene not ever giving him his due, and....wait, sorry, that's m'boy again, my bad.




ps credit where its due, "Masters of War" is cool


pps Jax - tell Vagrant you guys were right, that "Hurt" video was fuckin beautiful.

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Yeah, Cocaine Blues is a good one. As is The Man Who Couldn't Cry. I'm still going with Dylan though. Where Cash has balls, Dylan's a fucking nut:


Bob Dylan's 115th Dream

I was riding on the Mayflower

When I thought I spied some land

I yelled for Captain Arab

I have yuh understand

Who came running to the deck

Said, "Boys, forget the whale

Look on over yonder

Cut the engines

Change the sail

Haul on the bowline"

We sang that melody

Like all tough sailors do

When they are far away at sea


"I think I'll call it America"

I said as we hit land

I took a deep breath

I fell down, I could not stand

Captain Arab he started

Writing up some deeds

He said, "Let's set up a fort

And start buying the place with beads"

Just then this cop comes down the street

Crazy as a loon

He throw us all in jail

For carryin' harpoons


Ah me I busted out

Don't even ask me how

I went to get some help

I walked by a Guernsey cow

Who directed me down

To the Bowery slums

Where people carried signs around

Saying, "Ban the bums"

I jumped right into line

Sayin', "I hope that I'm not late"

When I realized I hadn't eaten

For five days straight


I went into a restaurant

Lookin' for the cook

I told them I was the editor

Of a famous etiquette book

The waitress he was handsome

He wore a powder blue cape

I ordered some suzette, I said

"Could you please make that crepe"

Just then the whole kitchen exploded

From boilin' fat

Food was flying everywhere

And I left without my hat


Now, I didn't mean to be nosy

But I went into a bank

To get some bail for Arab

And all the boys back in the tank

They asked me for some collateral

And I pulled down my pants

They threw me in the alley

When up comes this girl from France

Who invited me to her house

I went, but she had a friend

Who knocked me out

And robbed my boots

And I was on the street again


Well, I rapped upon a house

With the U.S. flag upon display

I said, "Could you help me out

I got some friends down the way"

The man says, "Get out of here

I'll tear you limb from limb"

I said, "You know they refused Jesus, too"

He said, "You're not Him

Get out of here before I break your bones

I ain't your pop"

I decided to have him arrested

And I went looking for a cop


I ran right outside

And I hopped inside a cab

I went out the other door

This Englishman said, "Fab"

As he saw me leap a hot dog stand

And a chariot that stood

Parked across from a building

Advertising brotherhood

I ran right through the front door

Like a hobo sailor does

But it was just a funeral parlor

And the man asked me who I was


I repeated that my friends

Were all in jail, with a sigh

He gave me his card

He said, "Call me if they die"

I shook his hand and said goodbye

Ran out to the street

When a bowling ball came down the road

And knocked me off my feet

A pay phone was ringing

It just about blew my mind

When I picked it up and said hello

This foot came through the line


Well, by this time I was fed up

At tryin' to make a stab

At bringin' back any help

For my friends and Captain Arab

I decided to flip a coin

Like either heads or tails

Would let me know if I should go

Back to ship or back to jail

So I hocked my sailor suit

And I got a coin to flip

It came up tails

It rhymed with sails

So I made it back to the ship


Well, I got back and took

The parkin' ticket off the mast

I was ripping it to shreds

When this coastguard boat went past

They asked me my name

And I said, "Captain Kidd"

They believed me but

They wanted to know

What exactly that I did

I said for the Pope of Eruke

I was employed

They let me go right away

They were very paranoid


Well, the last I heard of Arab

He was stuck on a whale

That was married to the deputy

Sheriff of the jail

But the funniest thing was

When I was leavin' the bay

I saw three ships a-sailin'

They were all heading my way

I asked the captain what his name was

And how come he didn't drive a truck

He said his name was Columbus

I just said, "Good luck."

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Ah yes, I bet when Dylan couldn't even blow an open G on his Hohner he thought to himself "One day, I wanna be famous, so I can play the great American prison circuit."


All of the anti-war stuff that has been timeless for generations and will continue to be, not to mention the moving poetry and prose in the folk tradition...just a fluke. Dylan wanted to be Cash.


ps. credit where credit is due, Folsom Prison album is awesome!

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Dyaln wanted to be Woody Guthrie. As evidence, I sumbit the song, Song To Woody:


I'm out here a thousand miles from my home,

Walkin' a road other men have gone down.

I'm seein' your world of people and things,

Your paupers and peasants and princes and kings.


Hey, hey Woody Guthrie, I wrote you a song

'Bout a funny ol' world that's a-comin' along.

Seems sick an' it's hungry, it's tired an' it's torn,

It looks like it's a-dyin' an' it's hardly been born.


Hey, Woody Guthrie, but I know that you know

All the things that I'm a-sayin' an' a-many times more.

I'm a-singin' you the song, but I can't sing enough,

'Cause there's not many men that done the things that you've done.


Here's to Cisco an' Sonny an' Leadbelly too,

An' to all the good people that traveled with you.

Here's to the hearts and the hands of the men

That come with the dust and are gone with the wind.


I'm a-leaving' tomorrow, but I could leave today,

Somewhere down the road someday.

The very last thing that I'd want to do

Is to say I've been hittin' some hard travelin' too.

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