By Jim Hagerty
Sitting down with her father to make a list of songs to learn has paid off over the years for singer Rosanne Cash, eldest daughter of music legend Johnny Cash.
Rosanne spent a sizable portion of her childhood, especially as a teen, on a tour bus with her father. During those times, she and Johnny would sit and talk about the most natural things—music. When Johnny discovered his daughter didn’t know several of the songs that defined country music, and other genres, he and Rosanne grabbed a pen and paper and started making a list of tunes for her to learn. The list, called “Johnny Cash’s List of the 100 Essential Country Songs,” became the foundation for an assignment for the then 18-year-old Rosanne to complete. After learning the songs, she filed the list away. It wasn’t until a few years ago it resurfaced when Rosanne was compiling research for a book.
The list also inspired the chart-topping artist and author to revisit the songs in depth. Before she realized it, a new Rosanne Cash album was in the works. The project, appropriately titled The List, released yesterday (Tuesday, Oct. 6), includes many of the songs her father prompted her to learn more than 35 years ago. The album includes songs by Jimmie Rodgers, Porter Wagoner, The Carter Family, Bob Dylan and Patsy Cline.
Rosanne Cash didn’t stop there. She performs many of the tracks with several other noted artists such as Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen.
While Cash recalls learning the music and lyrics to each of the 100 songs her father insisted upon, she discovered, over the years, recording them made sense.
“Well, it turns out my voice really is well-suited to these songs,” Cash said.
The List is composed of 12 tracks, each personalized with the signature vocal touch Rosanne Cash has displayed since her debut album in 1978. Cash has scored 11 No. 1 country songs, including “Tennessee Flat Top Box,” “Runaway Train,” “My Baby Thinks He’s a Train” and “If You Change Your Mind.” The new record can be sampled and purchased at Cash’s Web site: www.rosannecash.com.
From the October 7-13, 2009 issue