There currently exists an unfinished Post Malone song with Bob Dylan lyrics. In a Rolling Stone report, producer Michael Cash talks about how he’d wanted Malone to appear on a collection of Dylan songs inspired by the 2014 T Bone Burnett-produced album Lost On the River: The New Basement Tapes. Cash wanted to create an album featuring songs by rappers, such as Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Malone, who is a known Dylan fan. (Before he became famous, Malone uploaded a cover of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” to YouTube in 2013, and he currently has a tattoo of Dylan playing the harmonica on his left bicep.)
At first, things were looking good. Dylan’s rep Jeff Rosen allegedly told Cash that Dylan had “something in mind that he wants to craft specifically for this” (though a Dylan source claimed to Rolling Stone that the lyrics were already “lying around”). Whatever the case, Rosen sent lyrics for a song called “Be Not Deceived” in November 2020. Cash described the lyrics as being about “a loss of innocence” in relation to “disfranchised, kind of leaderless masses of children with no parent or guardian or shepherd or anything.”
After hearing the lyrics, a “literally in tears” Malone soon stopped by Cash’s studio in March 2021 but seemed to think that Dylan would be on hand for the recording session as well. They got through about half of the track, which included 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 says. “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 apparently liked what he was hearing, but suddenly Cash couldn’t get Malone back into the studio to finish the song. “All I can tell you is it went from being something to be excited about to just turning into a circular, figure-eight pattern,” Cash says. “Nobody had an answer.”
Ultimately, Dylan’s team got tired of waiting, according to Cash. “Rosen said to me at a certain point, ‘Well, we’re just going to retract the lyrics.’ Bob and Mr. Rosen do things a specific way. They get things done in a New York minute, and then it started to become… Honestly, they just were like, ‘This should be finished.’”
Cash concludes: “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.”
Read the full interview here.