Rosanne Cash Goes Down “The List”

Videos by American Songwriter


Johnny Cash may be rolling over in his grave every time someone covers “Ring of Fire.” Some of his best work is butchered nightly at karaoke bars and open mics and all over the world. However, Cash is likely smiling down on his daughter Rosanne, who pays tribute to her father’s favorite songs on her newest album.

The List, due out October 6 on Manhattan Records, is Cash’s first cover album and features songs by the likes of Hank Williams, The Carter Family, Merle Haggard, and Bob Dylan. On a few tracks, Cash is supported by some other impressive songwriters, including Jeff Tweedy, Rufus Wainwright, Bruce Springsteen, and Elvis Costello.

The album’s title refers to a particular selection of “100 Essential Country Songs.” Compiled by Johnny Cash in 1973, the list was intended to provide his Beatle-crazed daughter with a solid education in the music that had inspired “the Man in Black.” Such a list may seem an unusual gift to some, but Cash sees nothing strange about it: “If my father had been a martial arts master, he might have passed a martial arts ‘secret’ on to me, his oldest child. If he had been a surgeon, he might have taken me into his operating room and pointed out the arteries and organs. If he were a robber baron, he might have surveyed his empire and said, ‘Honey, some day this will all be yours!’. But he was a musician and a songwriter, and he gave me The List.”

Having spent over a quarter-century ruminating over this list and attempting to integrate the music into her own career, Cash finally narrowed it down to 12 tracks. According to Rosanne, the list is “far-ranging and thorough…It was assembled from my father’s intuitive understanding of each critical juncture in the evolution of country music.” The list incorporates every phase in country music’s development. “There were old Appalachian folk ballads, and the songs of Jimmie Rodgers and Woody Guthrie. The influence of gospel and Southern blues were crucial. Then he segued into rockabilly and the birth of modern country music by way of Hank Williams, and up to the present.”

Her 12th studio album, The List is also Cash’s first release since her recovery from a debilitating brain condition. After earning critical acclaim for 2006’s melancholy Black Cadillac, Cash is ready to lighten up and have some fun with her father’s favorite tunes. For Cash, however, these songs are more than just covers. Rather, she sees The List “as a standard of excellence…to remind myself of the tradition from which I come. This album enables me to validate the connection to my heritage rather than run away from it, and to tie all the threads together: past and future, legacy and youth, tradition the timelessness.”

The track-listing for The List:

1. “Miss the Mississippi and You”

2. “Motherless Children”

3. “Sea of Heartbreak” (w/ Bruce Springsteen)

4. “Take These Chains From My Heart”

5. “I’m Movin’ On”

6. “Heartaches by the Number” (w/ Elvis Costello)

7. “500 Miles”

8. “Long Black Veil” (w/ Jeff Tweedy)

9. “She’s Got You”

10. “Girl From the North Country”

11. “Silver Wings” (w/ Rufus Wainwright)

12. “Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow”

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