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Rosanne Cash Gets Deeply Personal for Women’s Sake
Friday, February 28, 2020


Rosanne Cash couldn’t shake the old African proverb from her head.

“Every time an old woman dies, a library burns down.”

Eventually, it propelled her to a new song, which became the title song for her latest album, “She Remembers Everything.” It asks achingly, “Who knows who she used to be before it all went dark?”

“Women’s stories are still not trusted. And I just wanted to say that our stories are trustworthy,” said Cash, who is considered one of the country’s preeminent singer/songwriters. “All you have to do is look at every single. It always has to do with rising up from some kind of subjugation. She is doubted. Is it getting better? Well, Harvey Weinstein just got convicted so maybe it is getting better.”

Cash will perform “She Remembers Everything” when she plays at The Argyros in Ketchum at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14. Tickets are $75, available at

She will be accompanied by her husband—guitarist John Leventhal, who collaborated with her on her 2014 album “The River & The Thread,” which was the No. 1 album of 2014 on Americana radio.

“The concert will feature just me and my husband. We do this a lot and we really, really love it,” said Cash, who has 15 albums, four Grammys and 11 nominations. “It’s very musical. It doesn’t lack energy. We’ll do a lot of songs from my last record, as well as songs from ‘The River & the Thread.’ ”

“The River & the Thread” was written following trips to Johnny Cash’s childhood home in Arkansas, Rosanne Cash’s own childhood home in Memphis and other landmarks, such as William Faulkner’s house. It was, Cash said, a mini-travelogue through the South and the soul.

The album, which snagged three Grammys, proved so successful that industry leaders begged Cash to record another concept album, which would have been her fourth in a row.

But she had a few things to get off her chest and so chose to record a deeply personal album containing songs about trauma and death—subjects that don’t get a lot of airplay.

“The album features the most personal songs I’ve written in a really long time,” said Cash. “I felt this deep urgency to write the songs and record them, no matter what happened--even if they just sold five records. I wrote it because I feel women still have a lot to say.

“I wasn’t interested in people pleasing, anymore. I wanted to say what was weighing on me and in my heart and talk about really hard subjects--trauma, recovery, loss and mortality and the feminine undertone. I think I would have deeply regretted it if I had come to the end of my life and hadn’t written these songs. Committing to a feminine voice, just going deep into whatever madness…madness and power… I think it’s meant a lot to certain demographics—say, women my age.”

Cash wrote “Crossing to Jerusalem” on the album with her husband. He wrote the music; Cash, the lyrics. It was nominated for Best American Roots Song at the 62nd Grammy Awards.

“That’s about being in a long-term relationship, and it’s very moving to us. When you’re in a long-term relationship, you realize with every passing day that one of you will inevitably leave the other. And, so, you get to the point where there’s only one left. And it’s sad. It’s unspeakably sad. It makes every moment more precious, you know?”

She wrote the song “8 Gods of Harlem” with Kris Kristofferson and Elvis Costello. The song describes the aftermath of a boy who was shot while riding his bicycle--“the son who was a baby but who will never be a man.”

Cash wrote one verse from the viewpoint of the boy’s mother, while Kristofferson and Costello wrote verses reflecting on the boy’s father and brother.

All tied together by the verse, “So we pray to the God of Broken Class. We pray to the God of Gunfire and Regret…”

“I’ve been against gun violence for 20 years,” Cash said. “We each wrote our verses and recorded it and it was kind of amazing.”

Despite being the daughter of one of country music’s biggest stars, Cash climbed up the ladder of the pop and rock world, beginning with the first of eleven No. 1 singles—“Seven Year Ache”--in the 1980s.

But, when Ken Burns was researching his acclaimed “Country Music” documentary series, he made a detour from Nashville to Cash’s New York City home.

“I was involved a few years before they even started filming as one of several consultants who are musicians,” said Cash. “Every once in a while, they would call and ask me a few questions. And then they conducted two days of interviews with me—several hours both days—from which they picked out select quotes.”

The series included home movies that Cash hadn’t seen before.

“It was very, very moving, actually. It’s not like they revealed anything I didn’t already know about my family, but it was compiled in a way that was deeply moving and satisfying.”

Not only does the series constitute “an incredible American document,” but it boosted record sales for a lot of country music artists, Cash added.

“I thought they did a magnificent job. They were so comprehensive and respectful and they connected a lot of dots from Appalachian music to Western swing and everything in between. It’s part of our national heritage, in our collective consciousness. It’s deeply American and it’s part of us.”

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