Bob Dylan: Big River (Johnny Cash), video & audio

Dylan & Cash

Now I taught the weeping willow how to cry
And I showed the clouds how to cover up a clear blue sky
And the tears that I cried for that woman are gonna flood you Big River
Then I’m gonna sit right here until I die

As a songwriter, I’ve always loved his lyrics. At the beginning of his career, John released a bunch of powerful songs in a very short time. For me, the best one was always “Big River.” It’s so well-written, so unlike anything else. The lines don’t even seem to rhyme.
~Kris Kristofferson (


Released March 1958
Genre Rockabilly
Length 2:35
Label Sun
Writer Johnny Cash
Producer(s) Sam Phillips, Jack Clement

Big River” is a song written and originally recorded by Johnny Cash. Released as a single by Sun Records in 1958, it went as high as #4 on the Billboard country music charts and stayed on the charts for 14 weeks. A verse omitted from the original recording was later performed during Johnny Cash’s live performances.

johnny cash sings the songs that maede


I met her accidentally in St. Paul, Minnesota
And it tore me up every time I heard her drawl, Southern drawl
Then I heard my dream was back downstream Cavortin’ in Davenport
And I followed you, Big River, when you called

Other notable versions

Johnny Cash – Grand Ole Opry, 1962:

The Highwaymen:

Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Georges jones (Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute Concert):

Grateful Dead – Washington, DC June 14, 1991:

Then you took me to St. Louis later on down the river
A freighter said she’s been here but she’s gone, boy, she’s gone
I found her trail in Memphis but she just walked up the block
Raised a few eyebrows and then she went on down alone

Bob Dylan

In the Studio

First recorded with the Hawks at Big Pink in 1967 (not released), and then as a duet with Johnny Cash at The 5th recording session for “Nashville Skyline” on February 18, 1969 (not released).

The Big Pink
West Saugerties, New York
June – October 1967

  • Bob Dylan (guitar, harmonica, vocal)
  • Robbie Robertson (guitar & drums)
  • Rick Danko (bass)
  • Garth Hudson (organ)
  • Richard Manuel (piano)

Columbia Studio A
Nashville, Tennessee
18 February 1969

  • Bob Dylan (vocal, guitar & harmonica)
  • Johnny Cash (shared vocal)
  • Bob Wilson (piano)
  • Charlie Daniels (guitar)
  • Charlie McCoy (bass)
  • Norman Blake (guitar)
  • Hargus ”Pig” Robbins (piano)
  • Peter Drake (steel guitar)
  • Kenneth Buttrey (drums)

Now, won’t you batter down by Baton Rouge, River Queen, roll it on
Take that woman on down to New Orleans, New Orleans
Go on, I’ve had enough, dump my blues down in the gulf
She loves you, Big River, more than me

 In Concert

bob dylan baltimore 1999

Dylan performed ‘Big River’ as an encore on August 7, 1988 at the County Bowl in Santa Barbara, California. The song appeared again on November 8, 1999 in Baltimore, Maryland and on March 16, 2000 in Santa Cruz, California. He performed the song twice more when he sat in with the Grateful Dead during their summer sets in Atlanta, Georgia and Somerset, Wisconsin.
Bob Dylan’s bouncy performances from Santa Barbara, CA (August 7, 1988) and Santa Cruz, CA (March 16, 2000) can be found on the bootleg CD “Genuine ever Ending Tour Covers Collection 1988- 2000”.
~Derek Barker (The Songs He didn’t write)

Santa Barbara County Bowl
Santa Barbara, California
7 August 1988

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • G. E. Smith (guitar)
  • Kenny Aaronson (bass)
  • Christopher Parker (drums)

Baltimore Arena
Baltimore, Maryland
8 November 1999

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • Charlie Sexton (guitar)
  • Larry Campbell (guitar, mandolin, pedal steel guitar & electric slide guitar)
  • Tony Garnier (bass)
  • David Kemper (drums & percussion)

Civic Auditorium
Santa Cruz, California
16 March 2000

  •  Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • Charlie Sexton (guitar)
  • Larry Campbell (guitar, mandolin, pedal steel guitar & electric slide guitar)
  • Tony Garnier (bass)
  • David Kemper (drums & percussion)

Check out: