Annette Brown, Lifetime The story of June Carter Cash comes to life in the…
- Posted on Aug 21st 2009 2:00PM by Benjy Eisen
"It so happened that my family was public and so people noticed it, but it's not any different than what happens to anybody else in their 20s," Cash tells Spinner. "But at this point in my life, most people start getting interested in what their ancestry is and where they came from and who they are and what their DNA has in it. Well, same with me. And part of my DNA is musical. And I'm intensely interested in my musical genealogy."
So are we. Thus, when Cash revealed during her 'Black Cadillac' tour that her father gave her a list of 100 essential country songs when she was just 18 years old, fans became instantly obsessed. They would ask her about it after every show and in every interview. Johnny originally gave her the list as a way of educating her about his job, in a way, but suddenly it seemed as though the whole world wanted to know what songs made the list and if she'd ever record them. 1
"I resisted at first," Cash confesses. "I said, 'No, I'm a songwriter. I've been a songwriter for 35 years; that's what I do." And indeed, by that time she had long since established herself as a world-famous artist in her own right. After encouragement from her husband (and Grammy-award winning producer) John Leventhal, Cash finally realized that her father gave her the list for a reason. "It was like the puzzle began to fit together on its own," she says.
But then, in 2007, Cash unexpectedly had to undergo brain surgery. Emerging fully recovered from that health scare, but perhaps a bit shaken, she realized there was no time like the present to pick up her family's legacy. It seems like a fairly logical psychological reaction, all things considered.
"It seems psychologically natural to me, too," admits Cash. "It was the next evolutionary stage, in a way. My parents had all died, I got a real smackdown with my own mortality by having brain surgery, and I was thinking very carefully about what I wanted to do next."
So Cash recorded a dozen songs straight from the list, encompassing various traditions that her father thought were all essential to country music's identity: Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams and even Bob Dylan are all represented. The resulting CD will be released Oct. 6 and is titled, not surprisingly, 'The List.'
As if to ensure safe passage as she hands the music to the next generation, Cash invited Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy to contribute guest vocals on four respective tracks. Looks like the old man got his wish -- his daughter "gets it."