Triple Played: Rosanne Cash nails it
My favorite new music release so far this year is Rosanne Cash’s “The River and the Thread.”
Although it is only two months into 2014, I think her album is going to be near or at the top of my yearly favorites.
Cash co-wrote 12 of the 14 songs with her husband John Leventhal, who produced and played on the recording. Other players include Derek Trucks, John Prine, Tony Joe White, Kris Kristofferson, Allison Moorer and Rodney Crowell. “Biloxi” was written by Jesse Winchester and “Two Girls” was penned by Townes Van Zandt.
Cash was interviewed by Anthony Mason for “CBS Sunday Morning” in January, and this is some of what I learned. Inspiration for this recording came from a 2012 trip Cash took with her husband to the boyhood home of her late father, Johnny Cash. It was the first time she had been to the house in Arkansas since 1968 when she was there with her father.
In the past two years, Cash and her husband made a series of trips across Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee, and that is when “The River and the Thread” all came together.
“I think it took me until now to understand” her father’s connection to Dyess, Ark., the strength and sadness that grew there, Cash told Mason. “He lost his brother here, who was his best friend and his hero. But even more than that, understanding of what it meant to my dad now, I understand what it means to me.”
I read one review of Cash’s album that said she has received too much attention because of her father. While that may have been true at the beginning, Cash has been able to stand on her own, as a singer and even more so as a songwriter, since her debut record “Right or Wrong.”
Along the way she has released a number of outstanding records including “Seven Year Ache,” “Kings Record Shop,” the Wheel,” “Interiors,” “Rules Of Travel” and “the List.”
I like “The River and the Thread” from the very start and it has grown on me to the point that it “haunts” me, in a good way, until I listen to it again. It is not a country music record and it sure isn’t a Christian record, although there are subtle elements of both present. What it is to me is a Southern record from a “Southern lady,” who is reconciling parts of her life in a very literate way. Every song is a story. My favorites change places each time I play it. So far they include “A Feather’s Not A Bird,” “The Sunken Lands,” “Etta’s Tune,” “Modern Blue” and “50,000 Watts.”
Part of the trip took Cash and Leventhal to Money, Miss., and led to the song “Money Road” of which Cash had this to say in the album’s liner notes: “We drove down money road and stopped at Robert Johnson’s grave. We went on to the spot where the murder of young Emmett Till took place, which led to the birth of the Civil Right Movement. Around the corner was the Tallahatchie Bridge and we were in a vortex of music, tragedy and revolution. That kind of thing stays with you forever. You can leave but you can’t go away.”