By Kristi Kates
Rosanne Cash worked with a number of guest performers on her new
album, The List. A covers set, her first, that was narrowed down to a
select dozen songs from a list of an Essential 100 that her father,
the late great Johnny Cash, gave to her when she was 18 years old, in
order to craft the foundation of her country-music education.
Each of these guest performers, so different in their styles and
approaches to music, were nonetheless fairly easy for Cash to define.
When asked what each one brought to the recording process in one word
(she sang duets with each of them), her answers were definitive - and
even, perhaps, somewhat unexpected.
Bruce (Springsteen) brought romance; Jeff (Tweedy, of Wilco),
flawlessness; Rufus (Wainwright), creativity; and Elvis (Costello),
exuberance, she smiles.
SONGS THAT SPEAK
Cash, who says she worked to create a microcosm of the original list
by including songs from Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, and the Carter
Family, didnt necessarily have a difficult time choosing which 12
songs to record; she simply chose the ones that spoke to her, and her
talents, the most.
We chose songs that suited my voice, songs that Ive been singing to
myself for all these years, Cash explains.
In addition to getting the opportunity to translate these songs so
thoughtfully passed along to her by her father, working with her
husband, musician/producer/engineer John Leventhal, was another very
important element in the albums process.
Working with my husband, choosing the songs and talking about the
arrangements, was one of my favorite things about recording the
album, she says, the other was enjoying the emotional connection
Ive had to these songs. It was a moving experience to sing them.
For each of the 12 songs, which include Bob Dylans Girl from the
North Country, Guy Mitchell/Ray Prices Heartaches by the Number
(which features Costello), and Patsy Clines Shes Got You, Cash
reinterprets them through a trio of influences - her father, of
course, plus her life in New York City (as opposed to Nashville), and
her own perspective on country music, after having recorded and
released eleven albums of her own.
For her live shows, shes reinterpreting the songs through a pair of
LIVE AND COMPOSED
Im working as a duo with my husband John for some shows, and with a
full band - all Brooklynites - for some of the others, she explains,
its a great and musically diverse experience. Some songs are more
complicated than others to translate live, but the boys have proven
worthy of the task!
In addition to her upcoming show in Manistee, Cash says shes looking
forward to her performance in Berlin, Germany (the audience there
really loves American roots music, she says), and will be alternating
her musical performances with promotional events for her new book, a
memoir called Composed that was published on August 10 of this year.
Composed, which follows Cashs life from her California childhood to
Europe, Nashville, and now her current home of New York, showcases her
detailed and eloquent writing style and storytelling abilities, as she
shares tales of singing with her father - and more than a few humorous
moments, such as her ending up lip-syncing some of her own songs at a
German circus - alongside some of the more difficult times in her
But even though shes incredibly busy with the many facets of her
career, Cash - never one to rest on her laurels, or to borrow anyone
elses - is already thinking ahead to what may be a second covers
Im looking forward to singing Im So Lonesome I Could Cry, she says.
Rosanne Cash will be performing at the Little River Casino Resort in
Manistee, MI on Saturday, August 28 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50/$35/$20
and are available at
www.startickets.com, or may be purchased at the LRCR Gift Shop.