Music. Bob Dylan Gave Post Malone His Lyrics to Record a Song
« A really cool piece of music got made, and then it just got weird »
TEARS In a lengthy interview with the magazine, producer Michael Cash revealed the track was intended for a collection of Dylan songs inspired by the 2014 T Bone Burnett-produced album, Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, which saw the likes of Marcus Mumford, Jim James, and Elvis Costello recording songs based on newly uncovered Dylan lyrics. Cash’s vision was to create his own album featuring songs recorded by rappers Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, as well as the hip-hop-influenced Malone, a well-known Dylan fan.
According to Cash, Dylan’s representative, Jeff Rosen, responded to his pitch about collaborating with Malone by teasing that Dylan had “something in mind that he wants to craft specifically for this,” though a source close to Dylan’s camp told Rolling Stone that the lyrics were already “lying around” somewhere.
Whatever the case, Rosen sent lyrics for a song called “Be Not Deceived” in November 2020. Cash described Dylan’s lyrics as “talking about a loss of innocence” in reference to “disfranchised, kind of leaderless masses of children with no parent or guardian or shepherd or anything.”
Malone was “literally in tears” after hearing the lyrics Dylan had sent over and in March 2021, he stopped by Cash’s studio to record the song. Based on Cash’s account, it was an interesting experience, with the artist spending time hunting for ghosts and for some reason, believing Dylan would actually attend the session.
Despite the distractions, Cash said they were able to get roughly 40% of the track done, including a contribution from Malone’s longtime producer Louis Bell. “We got the stenciling done, he got some colors in, but he definitely wasn’t finished,” Cash explained. “It needed flair. It needed more layers. It wasn’t a complete piece of music, but it was definitely a song. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end. There was a bridge, there was a chorus. It just needed to be finished.”
Apparently, Rosen was into what he heard of the song, but Cash wasn’t able to get Malone back in the studio. “All I can tell you is it went from being something to be excited about to just turning into a circular, figure-eight pattern,” he said. “Nobody had an answer.”