Rosanne Cash has always been one of my favorite performers. She has been turning out great songs for over 25 years going back to 1980. Rosanne is one of the daughters of the late Johnny Cash. She has always traveled her own road and it has not usually been the primrose path. The album “Interiors” was as excellent portrayal of her feelings after a rocky relationship with country star Rodney Crowell. Her latest work called “Black Cadillac”, deals with the loss of her father, mother, and step-mother. There are several songs on this album that touch upon grief and having the faith to overcome.
I hardly ever thought of Rosanne as a country singer. That is because her first big hit, “Seven Year Ache” was a crossover from the country charts to the pop charts. Over the years, I thought she had to much energy to be a country artist. Country songs have a history of telling tales of sadness and melancholy. True, they talk about life, however often from a depressing point of view. Even though many of her songs deal with the difficulties in her life, I usually sensed a positive energy beyond the heartache.
I don’t care what the popularity of a song is or whether it is a big hit. If the music doesn’t connect with me inside, it has little meaning. It has to have a certain “energy” to it. By that I mean it has to appeal to me in an uplifting way. The song may reflect some sadness or misery, but it also has to awaken something inside. Rosanne Cash has always been able to evoke positive feelings for me. Any song you hear will usually bring back some kind of memory or inspire some sort of feeling. The connections are different depending on the listener.
This list is according to how I relate to each song from personal experience. And it also is derived from the flow of energy I sense from the music itself. If I want depression, I watch mainstream TV. If I desire positive feelings and enjoyment, I listen to music that stirs me from within. I don’t always understand the reasons, but I don’t have to when it comes to feeling good.
10. Seven Year Ache. A departure from woeful country and western songs of previous decades. This has been the biggest hit of her career. Few artists have their most popular song early on, are still around 25 years later to tell about it. This song came at a time when C&W was beginning to become somewhat more progressive. It was stylish and opened the door for Rosanne to continue to mix some flare into her tales of woe.
9. I Count The Tears. This is an upbeat creation that mixes in some lyrics and a few bars from the 1967 hit “Let’s Live for Today” by the Grass Roots. This song fits her style that often moves beyond the mainstream country genre.
8. September When It Comes. Performed with her father, it is a beautiful duet. This type of song is engaging. She tells of “flying like an angel to a place where she can rest”. It seems to me that September is a place where she will find peace with her past.
7. Dreams Are Not My Home. One of her newer songs, it immediately trapped my feelings into her web of magic. Energetic with its chiming guitars, it has become a favorite tune. She has not lost her ability to create melodic tunes with pop undertones.
6. Real Woman. This song talks about her wanting to be a woman first and not a star. This is from the “Interiors” album which diverged from country influences. A high energy tune that the mainstream missed. Passionate, resonating, and truthful right down to the bone.
5. I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me. This number was clean and polished and easily marketed for airplay. The album “Rhythm and Romance” turned me on to the inspiring talent and versatility that made Rosanne Cash a delight to listen to. I still like watching the video of this song.
4. I Want A Cure. This song always astounds me. The fine guitar work is expressive and forward. This is high energy for me since it doesn’t fit into the mainstream. She is in some kind of deep emotional anguish as the lyrics easily reveal. She is searching for something in the same way we all have at one time or another.
3. Dance With The Tiger. To me the tiger is life itself. I am always reminded of how we have to take on life and wrestle with its uncertainties. The best cure for life is to laugh at the rain. This tune is mesmerizing as well as haunting. It gives me a great sense of hope and expectancy.
2. What We Really Want Is Love. Expressive and daring. She is aching to find true love and passion. This song creates strong energy with great lyrics and provocative guitar riffs. Totally beyond the bland mainstream country slush that is usually promoted. Is there anybody who doesn’t ask this question?
1. Couldn’t Do Nothing Right. Superb vocals and guitar. Flows right to the soul. Extremely energizing and stirring. This may not be her best effort, but I never tire of listening to it. Excellent example of the bittersweet sound that has thrown her off the mainstream track. And into a world of pure sublimity and complete self-expression.
Rosanne Cash has delivered great music for a long time. I could have made another list of her ten best songs and it wouldn’t be any less satisfying. Although she is not recognized among the over-hyped country music queens, her music is extremely passionate and thoughtful. This is what happens to artists who go off on their own trail. They are shunned by the mainstream promoters. The sad fact is, that in this case, Rosanne Cash has more talent then many of the professed country music divas. She is simply brilliant.