Dylan, Cash, and The Nashville Cats: A New Music City opened at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on March 27, 2015, occupying a 5,000-square-foot gallery for nearly three years. In this section you will find resources that complement the exhibit, and the names of individuals and organizations who generously contributed to the exhibit.
Acknowledgments and Resources
Public Programs Archive
Listen to the Band: The Nashville Cats in Concert with Special Guests Deana Carter, Jon Langford, Tracy Nelson, and Ketch Secor and Critter Fuqua (from Old Crow Medicine Show)
March 28, 2015
Hear the musicians who inspired Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joan Baez, Paul McCartney, and Leonard Cohen to record in Nashville, and hear the players who achieved success on their own as the band Area Code 615. To celebrate the opening of the museum’s major exhibition Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City, Country Music Hall of Fame member Charlie McCoy led a band of accomplished Nashville Cats David Briggs, Mac Gayden, Lloyd Green, Kenny Malone, Wayne Moss, and Norbert Putnam. Special guests Deana Carter, Jon Langford, Tracy Nelson, Steve Young, and Old Crow Medicine Show members Ketch Secor and Critter Fuqua sat in with the all-star band to perform songs associated with the city’s recording scene of the late 1960s and early ’70s.
Harmonica Demonstration: Charlie McCoy with Hoot Hester
March 29, 2015
Country Music Hall of Fame member Charlie McCoy has worked on thousands of sessions, and his distinctive harmonica playing can be heard on “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (George Jones), “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line” (Waylon Jennings), and “Take This Job and Shove It” (Johnny Paycheck). Accomplished on many different instruments, Charlie impressed Bob Dylan with his quick, creative guitar work at a New York session and the performance helped convince Dylan to record in Nashville. In the years following, McCoy also played sessions with Area Code 615, Johnny Cash, Gordon Lightfoot, Simon & Garfunkel, the Steve Miller Band, and Tom T. Hall. Accompanying McCoy is fiddler Hoot Hester, who has played with Hank Williams Jr., Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Jerry Reed, Mel Tillis, and the Time Jumpers, and as a member of the Grand Ole Opry staff band.
Conversation: Songs from a Room: the Nashville Works of Dylan and Cohen
April 4, 2015
Nashville musicians Ron Cornelius and Charlie Daniels worked on classic 1960s and ’70s recordings by Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, and also toured extensively with Cohen—including an appearance at the legendary 1970 Isle of Wight festival. Veteran music journalist and award-winning author Sylvie Simmons wrote the acclaimed, comprehensive biography I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen.
Conversation: The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Unbroken Circle
July 2, 2015
In August of 1971, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band entered Nashville’s Woodland Sound Studios to play host to a multi-generational parade of country notables, including Roy Acuff, Mother Maybelle Carter, Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Jimmy Martin, Vassar Clements, and Norman Blake. The sound they made together—staunch country traditionalists and the long-haired, rock-reared Dirt Band members—changed music, spawned two much-praised follow-up albums, and elevated “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” to its current status as country music’s national anthem. Dirt Band members Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden, Bob Carpenter, and John McEuen discuss the three Circle projects, talk about encounters with their heroes and peers, and share insight into these remarkable recordings.
Panel Discussion, Dylan Disc by Disc: The Nashville Recordings
September 16, 2015
Jon Bream is a music critic for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and author of the book Dylan: Disc by Disc, in which he talks with fifty-five musicians, journalists, and scholars about every album recorded by Dylan. Bream hosts a conversation about the albums Dylan recorded in Nashville, including Nashville Skyline and Blonde on Blonde. Guests include singer-songwriter Marshall Chapman, steel guitarist and guest curator of the museum exhibit Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats Pete Finney, author and producer Holly George-Warren, music journalist Geoffrey Himes, and singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock.
Interview and Performance: Eric Andersen
November 8, 2015
Singer-songwriter Eric Andersen wrote “Thirsty Boots” and other urban-folk staples of the 1960s. He was Bob Dylan’s contemporary in New York’s Greenwich Village music scene, and like Dylan, he travelled in the late 1960s to Nashville, where he recorded A Country Dream at Wayne Moss’s Cinderella Sound studios. In 1972 Andersen created Blue River—a landmark album in the folk-rock genre—with producer Norbert Putnam at Putnam’s Quadrafonic studio on Music Row. Andersen now lives in the Netherlands. He discusses his Nashville works and performs briefly in this local appearance. Andersen is accompanied by Inge Andersen (vocal harmony) and Michele Gazich (violin). Musician Pete Finney, co-curator of the exhibit, hosts this program.
Music Masters: A Conversation with Bob Neuwirth
May 7, 2016
Since the 1960s, Bob Neuwirth has been at the epicenter of one creative upheaval after another. Songwriter, producer, performer, painter, improviser, collaborator, and instigator, Neuwirth has been associated with many seminal artists, including Joan Baez, T Bone Burnett, Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, and Patti Smith. His seven albums include 1994’s Last Day on Earth, with John Cale. His songs include “Mercedes Benz,” written with Janis Joplin and poet Michael McClure. He appeared in the documentaries Don’t Look Back and Eat the Document, and in the film Renaldo & Clara. He was bandleader for Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue, music director for the Down from the Mountain tour, and producer of a documentary of the same name. The Los Angeles resident discussed his career in this multimedia program. For a brief performance, Neuwirth was joined by multi-instrumentalist David Mansfield, who has worked with T Bone Burnett, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Bruce Hornsby, Roger McGuinn, Loudon Wainwright III, and others.
Fiddle Demonstration: Nashville Cat Buddy Spicher with Matthew and David Spicher
July 31, 2016
Buddy Spicher performed or recorded with nearly every country star of the 1960s and 1970s, including Country Music Hall of Fame members Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Roger Miller, Bill Monroe, Ray Price, Charley Pride, Marty Robbins, Hank Snow, the Statler Brothers, Hank Thompson, Kitty Wells, and Bob Wills. He also worked with recording artists Joan Baez, Dan Fogelberg, Henry Mancini, Steve Miller, the Monkees, and Linda Ronstadt. He continued to record regularly into the 1980s, tracking hits with John Anderson, David Allan Coe, Merle Haggard, George Strait, and Hank Williams Jr., among scores of others. His work can be heard on such influential recordings as Charley Pride’s “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone” and Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors.” Spicher is featured as a “Nashville Cat” – one of the key session players of the 1960s and 1970s – in the exhibition Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City. Spicher is joined by his sons, bass player David Spicher and guitarist Matthew Spicher.
Interview and Performance: Charlie Daniels
October 29, 2016
A dynamic personality, a rousing performer, and a musical innovator, Charlie Daniels brought rock and blues motifs into mainstream country music. A 2016 inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Daniels began performing in his teens in his native North Carolina and, seven decades later, was still recording and touring as leader of the Charlie Daniels Band. He discusses his multifaceted career with moderator Michael McCall and performs a few songs during the program, which took place the day after Daniels turned eighty.
Panel Discussion: “Is It Rolling, Bob?”: Bob Dylan’s Nashville Recordings Revisited
July 15, 2017
Princeton history professor Sean Wilentz, author of the critically acclaimed study Bob Dylan in America (2010) and a contributor to Dylan’s official website, offers remarks about Dylan’s strong ties to Nashville and country music, and then joins a panel discussion focusing on Dylan’s album Blonde on Blonde, which was recorded in Nashville in 1966. Wilentz has written liner notes for several Dylan albums, including the Grammy-winning box set The Cutting Edge 1965–1966. Also on the panel are Country Music Hall of Fame member Charlie McCoy, who played on five Dylan albums in the 1960s; Wayne Moss, who added distinctive guitar parts to Blonde on Blonde; and musician Robyn Hitchcock, who cites Dylan as a primary influence. Pete Finney, co-curator of the museum exhibition Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City, serves as moderator. Participants commented on Blonde on Blonde rehearsal tracks and studio outtakes.
Nashville Cats Interviews
The museum’s long-running Nashville Cats public program series showcases stories and songs from musicians and session singers who have played important roles in country music history. Through in-depth, one-on-one interviews with the honorees, gain a better understanding of how musicians made careers for themselves by backing hit artists in the recording studio or on concert tours. Vintage recordings, photos, and film clips supplement the interviews, and in some cases the honorees demonstrate their techniques and recreate their famous musical contributions.
See the Nashville Cats
Resources for Classrooms and Families
Connect Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City with the classroom or have fun as a family through resources, activities, coloring sheets, and more.
Our lesson guides for the classroom explore the political, social, and cultural climate of the United States during the 1960s and early 1970s through the story of Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats. Activities designed for students in grades 3-12 combine the sounds and scene profiled in the exhibition with curriculum standards in social studies, fine arts, language arts, and CCR. Through primary sources and interdisciplinary project-based learning activities, students learn about Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and the Nashville Cats studio musicians; the recordings made in Nashville during this period; and the impact of socio-political dynamics on music and culture. Materials can be found here.
Families are invited to bring home the history and magic of the Museum. Children may explore Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City with a printable, interactive family activity guide and express themselves with printable coloring sheets featuring instruments shown in the exhibit. At home resources are available at countrymusichalloffame.org/funathome.
Suggested Books, Recordings, and DVDs
Blake, Mark. Dylan:Visions, Portraits, and Back Pages. New York: DK, 2005.
Cash, Johnny, with Patrick Carr. Cash: The Autobiography. New York: HarperCollins, 1997.
Doggett, Peter. Are You Ready for the Country: Elvis, Dylan, Parsons and the Roots of Country Rock. New York: Penguin, 2001.
Einarson, John. Desperados: The Roots of Country Rock. New York: Cooper Square Press, 2001.
Gaillard, Frye. Watermelon Wine: The Spirit of Country Music. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978.
Gayden, Mac. Missing String Theory: A Musician’s Uncommon Spiritual Journey. Nashville: Elephant Walk Press, 2013.
Hemphill, Paul. The Nashville Sound: Bright Lights and Country Music. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2015. First published in 1970.
Heylin, Clinton. Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades: Take Two. New York: William Morrow, 2001.
Heylin, Clinton. Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions, 1960-1994. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1995.
Hilburn, Robert. Johnny Cash: The Life. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013.
McCoy, Charlie, with Travis D. Stimeling. Fifty Cents and a Box Top: The Creative Life of Nashville Session Musician Charlie McCoy. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2017
McDonough, Jimmy. Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography. New York: Random House, 2002.
Meyer, David N. Twenty Thousand Roads: The Ballad of Gram Parsons and His Cosmic American Music. New York: Random House, 2008.
Putnam, Norbert. Music Lessons, Vol. 1: A Musical Memoir. Florence, Alabama: Mantup, 2015.
Sanders, Daryl. That Thin, Wild Mercury Sound: Dylan, Nashville, and the Making of Blonde on Blonde. Chicago: Chicago Review Press Incorporated, 2019.
Selke, Mike. Nashville Cat: The Wayne Moss Story. Nashville: Pumpkin Books, 2016.
Simmons, Sylvie. I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen. New York: Harper Collins, 2012.
Stimeling, Travis D. Nashville Cats: Record Production in Music City. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.
Streissguth, Michael. Johnny Cash: The Biography. Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2006.
Wilentz, Sean. Bob Dylan in America. New York: Doubleday, 2010.
Andersen, Eric. Blue River. Legacy Recordings CK 65696 (1999).
Area Code 615. Area Code 615 / Trip in the Country. Koch Records KOCCD 8109 (2000).
Baez, Joan. Any Day Now. Vanguard Records 79747 (2005).
Baez, Joan. Blessed Are. Vanguard Records 79760 (2005).
Beau Brummels. Bradley’s Barn. Collectors’ Choice Music CCM 3172 (2002).
The Byrds. Sweetheart of the Rodeo (Legacy Edition). Columbia/Legacy C2K 87189 (2003).
Cale, J.J. The Definitive Collection. Mercury Records 3145347542 (2006).
Cash, Johnny. The Essential Johnny Cash. Columbia/Legacy C2K86290 (2002).
Cohen, Leonard. Songs From a Room. Columbia 704740 (2007).
Cohen, Leonard. Songs of Love and Hate. Columbia 7399551 (2007).
Dylan, Bob. Blonde on Blonde. Columbia CK 92400 (2004).
Dylan, Bob. John Wesley Harding. Columbia CK 92395 (2004).
Dylan, Bob. Nashville Skyline. Columbia CK 92394 (2004).
Dylan, Bob, and the Band. Bootleg Series, Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes & Raw CD. Columbia/Legacy 501967 (2014).
Dylan, Bob. The Cutting Edge: Bootleg Series, Vol. 12 (1965–1966). Columbia/Legacy 88875124402MC1 (2015).
Dylan, Bob. Travelin’ Thru: Bootleg Series, Vol. 15 (1967–1969). Columbia/Legacy 19075981932 (2019).
Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City. Compilation. CMF Records/Legacy 8875066552 (2015).
Great Speckled Bird. Great Speckled Bird. Collectors’ Choice Music CCM 702 (2006).
Harrison, George. All Things Must Pass. Capitol 30474 (2001).
Hartford, John. RCA Country Legends. Buddha/RCA 74465998372 (2001).
Ian & Sylvia. Nashville. Vanguard VGDC 792842 (1994).
Lightfoot, Gordon. The Way I Feel. Beat Goes On 296 (2001).
McDonald, Country Joe. Thinking of Woody Guthrie. Vanguard 6546. (1991).
Mother Earth. Make a Joyful Noise. Wounded Bird Records 1226 (2004).
Nelson, Tracy. Mother Earth Presents Tracy Nelson Country. Warner Bros. 46233 (1996).
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Will the Circle Be Unbroken. Capitol/EMI 35148 (2002).
Ronstadt, Linda. Silk Purse. Capitol/EMI CDP 077778012627 (2004).
Russell, Leon. Hank Wilson’s Back. The Right Stuff 35537 (1995).
Scruggs, Earl. I Saw the Light with Some Help from My Friends. Sony 77626 (2005).
Starr, Ringo. Beaucoups of Blues. Capitol 32675 (1995).
Steve Miller Band. Number 5. Capitol 29686 (1994).
Stewart, John. California Bloodlines. Rev-Ola 215 (2007).
Various Artists. Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City. Legacy Recordings /CMF Records 88875066552.
Walker, Jerry Jeff. Driftin’ Way of Life. Vanguard 73124 (1990).
Young, Neil. Harvest. Reprise 517937 (2009).
Bob Dylan: No Direction Home. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Paramount Pictures (2005).
Old Crow Medicine Show, 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde: The Concert. Sony Music Nashville (2017).
The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show: 1969-1971. Sony Legacy (2007).
Dylan, Cash, and The Nashville Cats: A New Music City
This exhibit opened at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on March 27, 2015, occupying a 5,000-square-foot gallery for nearly three years.
Guest co-curator Pete Finney instilled the staff with his passion for understanding Bob Dylan and his impact on Nashville. The exhibit was informed by the years Finney invested in research and collecting related to the topic. He shared his knowledge graciously and enthusiastically, and he worked many hours beyond his term, to assure that the final product was the best it could be.
The museum commissioned Jon Langford to create the logo for Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats, and his artwork appears throughout the exhibit and accompanying projects. Langford is a founding member of influential punk band the Mekons and pioneering hard-country rockers the Waco Brothers. His punk rock instincts and singular artistic eye converge in a painting style that is distinctive and demanding of engagement.
Thanks to the following for their help and support
John Carter Cash
John R. Cash Revocable Trust
Arie de Reus
Dolph Briscoe Center for American History / The University of Texas at Austin
Diane and Mac Gayden
Eric and Katie Hogue
John Jackson (Sony Music Entertainment)
Charlie and Pat McCoy
MoPOP: Museum of Pop Culture
Judi and Weldon Myrick
Norbert and Sheryl Putnam
Rob Santos (Sony Music Entertainment)
Tom Tierney (Sony Music Archives Library)