Bob Dylan and Post Malone Nearly Collaborated on a Song

In the middle of the pandemic, Bob Dylan sent some lyrics to rapper Post Malone. The two began collaborating on a song, which they never completed. The collaboration started after producer Michael Cash was inspired by the 2014 release Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, a collection of Dylan songs re-interpreted by artists like Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, and Rhiannon Giddens, and wanted to pull together an album of Dylan’s songs recorded by hip-hop artists like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Malone.

Soon after, Cash pitched Post Malone to Dylan’s manager Jeff Rosen. He sent him a photo of Malone’s Dylan tattoo on his left bicep, along with a link to his cover of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” A longtime fan of Dylan’s, Malone covered him when he was starting out and throughout the years.

On November 18, 2020, Rosen sent Dylan’s lyrics of a song called “Be Not Deceived” to Cash. “It was talking about a loss of innocence, and what people are going through — disfranchised, leaderless masses of children with no parent or guardian or shepherd or anything,” revealed Cash to Rolling Stone. “It talked about going out and making your own way. And when you read it, honestly, it’s poetry. It’s beautiful.”

After he read the lyrics to Malone over the phone, Cash said the rapper was in tears. By March 2021, Malone went to Cash’s Woodstock, New York, studio to record “Be Not Deceived.” They had 40 percent of the song done before Malone had to leave.

“We got the stenciling done, he got some colors in, but he definitely wasn’t finished,” said Cash. “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.”

Rosen heard what was completed of the track and liked it, according to Cash, but had trouble getting Malone to finish the song. “Rosen said to me at a certain point, ‘Well, we’re just going to retract the lyrics,” shared Cash. “It just seems like nobody really managed expectations, and it just seems like nobody communicated. A really cool piece of music got made, and then it just got weird. It got really weird.”

Cash said he hopes to complete “Be Not Deceived” someday. “My hopes are that Mr. Dylan and Mr. Rosen give back the right to use the lyrics,” he said. “I would like it if the record gets finished. That’s basically my Jerry Springer final thought. So maybe it got weird, but this is two really important musicians that I feel put the work in and it needs to be shared.”

In 2022, Malone first revealed that the two had been in contact but could not share details of their interactions during a May 12 appearance on The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon. “I have not met Bob Dylan, but we have been — I don’t know how much I’m at liberty to discuss — but we’ve been chatting,” said Malone. We’ve chatted. … He kind of slid into my DMs.”

Malone added, “It’s incredible. He’s always just been a voice in my head. I’ve always just appreciated the music and appreciated the songwriting.”

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