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- Posted on Feb 5th 2010 12:30PM by Shelley White
In the fall of 2009, Rosanne Cash released 'The List,' an album covering some of the tunes Johnny Cash recommended that day, including Hank Williams' 'Take These Chains From My Heart,' Merle Haggard's 'Silver Wings,' Bob Dylan's 'Girl From The North Country' and the Carter Family's 'Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow.' Cash then invited collaborators like Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Rufus Wainwright and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, who guests on 'Long Black Veil,' the Lefty Frizzell song her father made famous.
Rosanne Cash spoke to Spinner about taking a trip through the history of country music and recording the songs that were so special to her late father.
Tell me about 'The List' and why you decided to record these songs after so many years.
It's paradoxical. You don't really think about what your parents leave you until they're not here anymore. It seems to be that way for everyone. I've talked to friends who have lost their parents and they've been like, "Yeah I didn't care about that set of china until mom was gone." In the same way, I didn't think about the list until dad was gone. I wrote a narrative about it that went in the Black Cadillac show. Even then, I didn't think of making a record based on it. I just thought, "oh well, this is a nice thing to mention." And then people started coming up to me and saying, "When are you going to make a record based on this list?" Even so, I thought, "oh no, no, no." Then I decided I wanted to do a covers record and my husband finally said, "If you're going to do a covers record, the only one you can do is the list."
Rosanne Cash on what 'The List' taught her about Johnny Cash (video)
Do you feel you're bringing back music that hasn't been heard, but should be heard, by a younger generation?
I didn't start doing that, but I find that is happening. People are bringing their kids to shows and saying, "It is important that you know these songs." I've overheard that and thought, "wow, I'm in the service of something bigger than me," which is so great. And also these songs should be alive. They shouldn't just be museum pieces, they should still be performed. They are part of who we are.
You've said that for a long time you resisted being famous because of your family name. Did doing 'The List' help exorcise that?
It helped me integrate it. It is my name, too. And it's not gracious to keep pushing that away anymore. I'm not a kid. I accept all of it, all of the legacy. I accept it bad and good. It's me, it's my family.
Rosanne Cash on the people who idolize and mythologize Johnny Cash (video)
Do you think about what would be on your list?
Sure. My daughter, Chelsea Crowell, is a musician and her album just came out in November. She said to me, "where's my list?" So I'm thinking about it.
Any decisions about the songs you would pick?
Well, I go up to 20. I put Dylan's 'Like a Rolling Stone' on there, and The Beatles 'Here There and Everywhere' and Neil Young's 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.' And [Johnny Cash's] 'Long Black Veil.'
Rosanne Cash on the challenge of balancing family and music (video)
Is there going to be 'The List,' part 2?
Yes, I want to do 'The List: Volume 2.' I've already started thinking about it. There are a couple of outtakes from this recording that I think should see the light of day. I can't wait. I loved singing these songs. But that doesn't mean I've given up songwriting, I'm also writing at the same time.
I understand there may be an Elvis Costello, Kris Kristofferson, Rosanne Cash supergroup?
We wrote three songs together and recorded them already and we performed one of those songs on Elvis's show, 'Spectacle.' We've started this project and we really liked writing together. It was a kind of a zone of magic recording these songs. But we live in three different cities and to get everyone in the same city it could take a decade to finish an album.
I also heard you plan to work with Joe Henry and Billy Bragg?
Joe is a really close friend of mine and I adore Billy. So the three of us are saying 2010 is the year we're going to do the Bragg/Cash/Henry project, whatever that turns out to be.