In October of 1992 Columbia Records held a commemorative concert at Madison Square Garden to celebrate thirty years of Bob Dylan’s career. This event, on which I’ll risk the use of a tired phrase, was star studded. Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, Lou Reed, and Eddie Vedder were a few of the many artists who paid homage to Mr. Dylan that night.
Because so many artists were appearing, there was no room backstage for entourages. Only performers were allowed, which made for a wonderful atmosphere in which artists could relax and talk with their peers. Unexpected couplings were everywhere, such as Lou Reed and Booker T. Jones or Kris Kristofferson and Sinead O’Connor.
I worked for Brockum, the company who handled Bob Dylan’s merchandise. As the idea of giving free merchandise to every performing artist was an expensive one, the decision was made to have a backstage stand that would sell the event merchandise at cost to the performers.
I took a break from working at the stand and walked through the surreal crowd. As I came around a cinderblock corner I almost ran into Johnny Cash. I believe that he thought, for a moment, that he knew me. As he was about to speak, George Harrison came up. I believe that Mr. Harrison thought that Mr. Cash and I were having a conversation, which he joined.
Mr. Cash and Mr. Harrison spoke while I held up my end by smiling and nodding.
Mr. Cash insisted that Mr. Harrison visit him on his farm, which my nods suggested was a very good idea. Mr. Harrison was very excited about playing such a great event as this, and Mr. Cash and I agreed. Mr. Cash said that he was looking forward to seeing Mr. Harrison play, as it had been a long time. Mr. Harrison said that it had been a long time and that he could not pass up performing at this event. Mr. Cash inquired if anyone had seen Bob today, and Mr. Harrison and I said that we had not.
Hearing these two voices I had heard most of my life in great musical circumstances then engaged in warm conversation was too much.
Soon Mr. Harrison had to go, and he gave Mr. Cash a hug before extending me a smile and a short bow. I said that it was nice to meet him.
Mr. Cash gave me a smile and said, ‘I gotta get going, too. Have a good show.’
'You, too, Johnny,' I said. 'Nice to see you.'
That was fun, I thought to myself.
David Khan Johnson, Blue Wow