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Cash, Rosanne

Rosanne Cash

Singer, songwriter

During the mid-1970s Rosanne Cash was one of country music's "New Women." An outspoken proponent of the progressive, rock-oriented country style, she paved the way for such non-traditional sounding artists as Shania Twain and Faith Hill. However, her much admired poetic depth would eventually lead the brooding singer-songwriter away from the commercial mainstream.

Daughter of Johnny Cash

The eldest daughter of Johnny Cash from his stormy first marriage to Vivian Libretto, Rosanne Cash has been performing since she was 18, forging a name for herself outside the shadow of her famous father. Steve Pond wrote in Rolling Stone that "Cash has been carving out her own niche, singing a distinctive mixture of new rock songs, old ballads and the odd country tune; hers is a tougher, hipper version of the country-rock hybrid that Linda Ronstadt once pursued." Cash herself jokingly called her early sound "Punktry," an unlikely fusion of country and punk rock that challenged traditional boundaries in form, content, and even language. Still, Cash told Alanna Nash in the book Behind Closed Doors: Talking with the Legends of Country Music, she feels that her roots are firmly based in the country sound. "The music I'm doing is a natural progression of where country music is going," she said. "It's lyrically oriented, which is what country music has always been, it's logical music, it's simple … maybe some of it does have a harder edge, but I consider myself a country artist."

"Nobody likes the kids of famous people," Cash told People magazine. "It's particularly hard if you go into the profession where the parent has been very successful. But if that's where your talent lies, it's dumb not to pursue it. Doctors' children become doctors. It shouldn't be all that strange that Johnny Cash's child likes to sing." Cash has not said a lot about her childhood, but noted in Stereo Review that her father "was bigger than life … because of his image and because he was not home a lot. 'Conquering hero' is a good term for it." Cash has admitted that her father's alcohol and drug problems, as well as his raging ambition, further distanced him from his family. She was 12 years old when her parents divorced.

Influenced By Folk and Rock

As a rebellious teen growing up in southern California, Cash began to experiment with drugs when she was 14. She has described her musical tastes at the time as "the same stuff most kids listened to" in California, including the Beatles. She was also influenced by the folk sound of Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and two "old folkies," Tom Rush and Eric Andersen. At 18, right out of high school, she joined her father's entourage and began to travel and perform with him. This, she said in Stereo Review, was a mixed blessing. "It was a good learning ground," she admitted, "to watch him work, but I was so protected I couldn't get any objectivity about my work. I got to the point where I was doing a couple of songs, but it was still playing for his crowd and it was still cute for his daughter to be up there, you know—the crowds thought, 'Oh, how sweet,' no matter how bad you were. At some point, you have to fall on your face."

Although she never quite fell on her face, after three years on tour with her father she began questioning her viability as a solo performer. Finally she quit the show and enrolled in Vanderbilt University, where she majored in English and drama. The following year she moved to Hollywood to study in Lee Strasberg's noted drama school, hoping to become an actress. Too shy to study with Strasberg directly, she did take courses with his associates, describing the experience as "great … like therapy." Cash left the drama school after six months because Ariola Records, a German company, offered her a recording contract, and she traveled to Munich to make the album. One of the album's cuts attracted the attention of Rich Blackburn of Columbia Records, and he agreed to allow Cash and her fiancé, producer/songwriter Rodney Crowell, to make an album that would fit their own creative standards.

Peaked Commercially During the 1980s

The album, Right or Wrong, was deemed a critical success by both country and rock critics. "It had a no-nonsense feel to it," wrote Noel Coppage in Stereo Review, "with Rosanne's warm, moist, round tones supported by strikingly clean and lyrical electric-guitar fills and breaks before arrangements that touched bases with Austin and Los Angeles but were captives of neither." Subsequent Cash albums of the period were built on this rock-country fusion, utilizing rock rhythms and melodies but maintaining the country tradition of highly personal ballads about heartbreak, infidelity, and reconciliation. As a husband and wife team, Cash and Crowell produced most of her best albums and contributed original songs to all of them. The songs that Cash wrote were based on their marriage as well as on her addiction to cocaine, a condition that forced her to seek hospital treatment in 1985.

Reflecting on her chart-topping album Rhythm and Romance, which contained songs about the near-dissolution of her marriage, Cash told Nash: "I have to pick songs that I feel relate to me personally. I don't think I could ever just do a song for ulterior motives. It's a real emotional process with me." Coppage observed that such a daring exploration of personal feelings gave added force to Cash's music: "Any listener making any sort of attempt to live an examined life can hardly help identifying with the humanity [Cash] projects."

For the Record …

Born on May 24, 1955, in Memphis, TN; daughter of Johnny (a country singer) and Vivian (Liberto) Cash; married Rodney Crowell (a record producer and songwriter), 1979 (divorced, 1992); married John Leventhal, 1995; children: (first marriage) Hannah, Caitlyn, Chelsea; (seond marriage) Jakob William Leventhal. Education: Attended Vanderbilt University and Lee Strasberg Drama School.

Began performing as backup singer for Johnny Cash's road show, c. 1973; solo performer, 1978–; signed with Columbia Records, 1979–95; signed with Capitol Records, 1996–; appeared on numerous television shows including Austin City Limits, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Late Show with David Letter-man, and Saturday Night Live; authored two books, Bodies of Water, 1996, and Penelope Jane—A Fairy's Tale, 2000.

Awards: Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female, for "I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me," 1985; voted Billboard's Top Singles Artist, Country, 1988.

Addresses: Record company—Capitol Records, 1750 Vine St., Hollywood, CA, 90028, website: http://www.capitolrecords.com. Management—Cross Rd. Management, 45 W. 11th St. Ste. B, 7th Fl., New York, NY 10011. Website—Rosanne Cash Official Website: http://www.rosannecash.com.

Daring humanity and progressive sound have best described the Rosanne Cash repertoire. Cash told Nash: "There's a formula in Nashville about how you should make records, how you should relate to your audience, how much you should tour. The whole thing is a package deal…. And I just don't buy it! I don't buy it at all! I think there's individual ways to approach life and success." The mother of three children (one adopted), Cash seldom toured, preferring to live quietly with her family and and pursuing her songwriting, recording, and an occasional concert or television appearance. Cash told Esquire magazine: "Country music might have chosen me, rather than the other way around. I think I'm helping move country to the next logical step. You see, country-music listeners are much more sophisticated now. So much has happened since Hank Williams. They're more world-wise, more cosmopolitan, I guess. My music is that, I think—country, but world-wise."

Changed Direction During the '90s

Cash's enviable run of hits petered out after 1988 when she abandoned the hit singles production formula she and Crowell had invented. Looking to express deeper, more personal meaning, she crafted the 1990 album Interiors as a bittersweet paean to her crumbling relationship with Crowell. Boasting her last important hit single, "What We Really Want is Love," and several supportive reviews, the album sold well, but Cash was clearly moving away from country.

By 1993 Cash had married producer John Leventhal and moved to Greenwich Village in New York. Her final album for Columbia, 1993's The Wheel, was a downbeat, introspective collection that drew upon her spiritual and philosophical beliefs, and it was ultimately unsucessful.

An interesting career move was Cash's foray into the written word. She wrote a series of short stories that were compiled in the 1996 book Bodies of Water. Four years later she resurfaced as a children's book author with Penelope Jane—A Fairy's Tale, but she never completely lost her taste for making music. Working with Leventhal, she recorded the delightfully spare acoustic 10 Song Demo for Capitol, and it was successfully marketed to the alternative country and No Depression crowd.

It wasn't until 2003 that Cash returned to the recording studio. Armed with several top-notch original songs and such stellar guest stars as Sheryl Crow, Steve Earle, and her own illustrious father, Cash created Rules of Travel, a compelling cross between modern country and Adult Contemporary. For many, the emotional highlight was hearing Johnny Cash's trembling voice on the end-of-life ballad "September When it Comes." The experience inspired Rosanne Cash to write the title song for her 2006 album Black Cadillac. "I was really aware of what I had written, and what it meant," she told Dan LeRoy in Rolling Stone. "It wasn't pleasant."

Indeed, over the course of two years, Cash lost her dad, mother, and stepmother June Carter Cash. The grief she experienced and the cathartic spiritual resolve she discovered are plainly in evidence on her finest later work, Black Cadillac. She explained her philosophy about the album and her life to Holly Lebowitz Rossi of Beliefnet.com: "It's about what I discovered in the mourning process about my relationship to them, which I believe continues, about re-negotiating the terms of those relationships, because they're not over, although I'm the only one talking."

Selected discography

Singles

(With Bobby Bare) "No Memories Hangin' Round," Columbia, 1979.
"Couldn't Do Nothin' Right," Columbia, 1980.
"Take Me, Take Me," Columbia, 1980.
"Seven Year Ache," Columbia, 1981.
"My Baby Thinks He's a Train," Columbia, 1981.
"Blue Moon with a Heartache," Columbia, 1982.
"Ain't No Money," Columbia, 1982.
"It Hasn't Happened Yet," Columbia, 1983.
"I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me," Columbia, 1985.
"Hold On," Columbia, 1985.
"Never Be You," Columbia, 1985.
"Second to No One," Columbia, 1986.
"The Way We Make a Broken Heart," Columbia, 1987.
"Tennessee Flat Top Box," Columbia, 1987.
(With Rodney Crowell) "It's Such a Small World," Columbia, 1988.
"If You Change Your Mind," Columbia, 1988.
"Runaway Train," Columbia, 1988.
"I Don't Want to Spoil the Party," Columbia, 1989.
"Black and White," Columbia, 1989. "What We Really Want," Columbia, 1989.
"On the Surface," Columbia, 1991.

Albums

Right or Wrong, Columbia, 1980.
Seven Year Ache, Columbia, 1981.
Somewhere in the Stars, Columbia, 1982.
Rhythm & Romance, Columbia, 1985.
King's Record Shop, Columbia, 1987.
Hits 1979–1989, Columbia, 1989.
Interiors, Columbia, 1990.
The Wheel, Columbia, 1993.
10 Song Demo, Capitol, 1996.
Rules of Travel, Capitol, 2003.
Blue Moons and Broken Hearts: The Anthology 1979–1995, Raven, 2005.
The Very Best of Rosanne Cash, Columbia/Legacy, 2005.
Black Cadillac, Capitol, 2006.

Videos

Live: Interiors Tour, CBS, 1990.
Retrospective—Video, Sony, 1991.

Sources

Books

McCloud, Bruce, Definitive Country: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Country Music and Its Performers, Perigree, 1995.

Nash, Alanna, Behind Closed Doors: Talking with the Legends of Country Music, Knopf, 1988.

Stambler, Irwin, and Grelun Landon, Country Music: The Encyclopedia, St. Martin's Griffin, 2000.

Periodicals

Entertainment Weekly, January 20, 2006; January 27, 2006.

Esquire, July 1981.

Interview, May 2006.

Newsweek, August 12, 1985; January 27, 2006.

People, September 6, 1982; February 27, 2006.

Rolling Stone, February 25, 1988.

Stereo Review, May 1981.

Online

"Rosanne Cash," Rolling Stone, http://www.rollingstone.com (June 22, 2006).

"Rosanne Cash: Surrendering to Grief—and Love," BeliefNet.Com, http://www.beliefnet.com/story/186/story_18607_1.html (June 21, 2006).

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"Cash, Rosanne." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Cash, Rosanne

Rosanne Cash

Singer, songwriter

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

One of country musics New Women, Rosanne Cash is an outspoken proponent of the progressive, rock-oriented country style. The eldest daughter of Johnny Cash has been performing since she was eighteen, recently forging a name for herself outside the shadow of her famous father. On her last five albums, writes Steve Pond in Rolling Stone, Cash has been carving out her own niche, singing a distinctive mixture of new rock songs, old ballads and the odd country tune; hers is a tougher, hipper version of the country-rock hybrid that Linda Ronstadt once pursued. Cash herself jokingly calls her sound Punktry, an unlikely fusion of country and punk rock that challenges traditional boundaries in form, content, and even language. Still, Cash told Alanna Nash in Behind Closed Doors: Talking with the Legends of Country Music, she feels that her roots are firmly based in the country sound. The music Im doing is a natural progression of where country music is going, she said. Its lyrically oriented, which is what country music has always been, its logical music, its simple maybe some of it does have a harder edge, but I consider myself a country artist.

Nobody likes the kids of famous people, Cash told People magazine. Its particularly hard if you go into the profession where the parent has been very successful. But if thats where your talent lies, its dumb not to pursue it. Doctors children become doctors. It shouldnt be all that strange that Johnny Cashs child likes to sing. Rosanne Cash was born in Memphis, the first child of Johnny Cash and his first wife, Vivian Liberto. Cash says little about her childhood, except to note in Stereo Review that her father was bigger than life, because of his image and because he was not home a lot. Conquering hero is a good term for it. Cash has admitted that her fathers alcohol and drug problemsand his raging ambitionfurther distanced him from his family. She was twelve years old when her parents divorced.

A rebellious teen growing up in southern California, Cash began to experiment with drugs when she was fourteen. She has described her musical tastes at the time as the same stuff most kids listened to in California, including the Beatles. She was also influenced by the folk sound of Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and two old folkies, Tom Rush and Eric Andersen. At eighteen, right out of high school, she joined her fathers entourage and began to travel and perform with him. This, she said in Stereo Review, was a mixed blessing. It was a good learning ground, she admitted, to watch him work, but I was so protected I couldnt get any objectivity about my work. I got to the point where I was doing a couple of songs, but it was still playing for his crowd and it was still cute for his daughter to be up

For the Record

Born c. 1955 in Memphis, Term.; daughter of Johnny (a country singer) and Vivian (Liberto) Cash; married Rodney Crowell (a record producer and songwriter), 1979; children: Hannah, Caitlyn, Chelsea. Education: Attended Vanderbilt University and the Lee Strasberg Drama School.

Began performing as a backup singer for Johnny Cashs road show, c. 1973; solo performer, 1978. Signed with Columbia Records, 1979.

Addresses: Agent Side One Management Agency, 1775 Broadway, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

there, you knowthe crowds thought, Oh, how sweet, no matter how bad you were. At some point, you have to fall on your face.

After three years on tour with her father, Cash did not fall on her face, but she did question her viability as a solo performer. Finally she quit the show and enrolled in Vanderbilt University, where she majored in English and drama. The following year she moved to Hollywood to study in Lee Strasbergs noted drama school, hoping to become an actress. Although she was too shy to study with Strasberg directly, she did take courses with his associates, describing the experience as great like therapy. Cash left the drama school after six months because Ariola Records, a German company, offered her a recording contract. She travelled to Munich to cut the album, facing bitter disappointment when the German producers forced stiff arrangements on her. Still, one cut on the album attracted the attention of Rich Blackburn of Columbia Records, and he agreed to allow Cash and her fiance, producer/songwriter Rodney Crowell, to make an album that would fit their own creative standards.

The album, Right or Wrong, was deemed a critical success by both country and rock critics. It had a no-nonsense feel to it, writes Noel Coppage in Stereo Review, with Rosannes warm, moist, round tones supported by strikingly clean and lyrical electric-guitar fills and breaks before arrangements that touched bases with Austin and Los Angeles but were captives of neither. Subsequent Cash albums have built on this rock-country fusion, utilizing rock rhythms and melodies but maintaining the country tradition of the highly personal ballads about heartbreak, infidelity, and reconciliation. As a husband and wife team, Cash and Crowell have produced most of Cashs albums and have contributed original songs to all of them. The songs that Cash writes are based on her own marriage as well as on her addiction to cocaine, a condition that forced her to seek hospital treatment in 1985. Reflecting on her chart-topping album Rhythm and Romance, which contained songs about the near-dissolution of her marriage, Cash told Alanna Nash: I have to pick songs that I feel relate to me personally. I dont think I could ever just do a song for ulterior motives. Its a real emotional process with me. Coppage observes that such a daring exploration of personal feelings gives added force to Cashs music. The critic writes: The result, I think, reflects the spirit of pushing on through growing pains. Any listener making any sort of attempt to live an examined life can hardly help identifying with the humanity [Cash] projects.

Daring humanity and progressive soundthese best describe the Rosanne Cash repertoire. It is Cashs independence from Nashvilles dictates, however, that has helped to earn her a place among country musics New Women. Cash told Alanna Nash: Theres a formula in Nashville about how you should make records, how you should relate to your audience, how much you should tour. The whole thing is a package deal. They might as well turn it into a handbook and give it to you as you enter the business. And I just dont buy it! I dont buy it at all! I think theres individual ways to approach life and success. The mother of three children (one adopted), Cash prefers not to tour. She lives quietly with her family in a spacious log home near Nashville, content to confine her creativity to songwriting, recording, and an occasional concert or television appearance. Cash told Esquire magazine: Country music might have chosen me, rather than the other way around. I think Im helping move country to the next logical step. You see, country-music listeners are much more sophisticated now. So much has happened since Hank Williams. Theyre more world-wise, more cosmopolitan, I guess. My music is that, I thinkcountry, but world-wise.

Selected discography

Right or Wrong, Columbia, 1980.

Somewhere in the Stars, Columbia.

Seven Year Ache, Columbia.

Rhythm & Romance, Columbia, 1985.

Kings Record Shop, Columbia, 1987.

Hits 1979-1989, Columbia, 1989.

Sources

Books

Nash, Alanna, Behind Closed Doors: Talking with the Legends of Country Music, Knopf, 1988.

Periodicals

Esquire, July, 1981.

Newsweek, August 12, 1985.

People, September 6, 1982.

Rolling Stone, February 25, 1988.

Stereo Review, May, 1981.

Anne Janette Johnson

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Cash, Rosanne." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Cash, Rosanne." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/cash-rosanne

"Cash, Rosanne." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/cash-rosanne