NPR has a story about Rosanne Cash’s new album:
September 28, 2009 – Back in 1973, Rosanne Cash told her father that she wanted to play country music for a living. Johnny Cash was, to put it mildly, an authority on the subject, so he made her a list of 100 essential songs she needed to hear as she embarked on her career. “Long Black Veil.” “Girl From the North Country.” “Miss the Mississippi and You.”
Each selection not only added to the young singer’s understanding of music and the emotions behind writing and performing songs; they also provide a window into the mind and spirit of Rosanne Cash’s late father. Thirty-six years later, the younger Cash has had a fruitful career, and now she’s taken on the task of interpreting some of the music Johnny Cash helped her discover when she was starting out. The List, heard here in its entirety for the week leading up to its Oct. 6 release, compiles 12 of those covers, with guest vocals from Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. (An iTunes-only bonus track, “Satisfied Mind,” also features Neko Case and is included here.)
Rosanne Cash has never been the showiest country singer around, which is part of her considerable appeal: She inherited her father’s plainspoken nature, which lends her a measure of authenticity and authority. These 12 covers are — by definition and necessity — timeless, and Cash’s performances give them room to breathe and shine.
You can hear the whole record at the NPR link.
The No Depression site adds this from a press release:
“The List was far-ranging and thorough,” Cash says. “It was assembled from my father’s intuitive understanding of each critical juncture in the evolution of country music. There were old Appalachian folk ballads, and the songs of Jimmie Rodgers and Woody Guthrie. The influence of gospel and Southern blues were crucial. Then he segued into rockabilly and the birth of modern country music by way of Hank Williams, and up to the present, which was then 1973. He also included a couple of his own songs. I endeavored to learn them all and it was an education,” she says. “I looked to that list as a standard of excellence, and to remind myself of the tradition from which I come. This album enables me to validate the connection to my heritage rather than run away from it, and to tie all the threads together: past and future, legacy and youth, tradition the timelessness.”
Through her stylish interpretations, Cash manages to transcend genre on The List, proving that these songs deserve a permanent place in the American Songbook. Produced and arranged by Grammy-Award winner John Leventhal (Cash’s husband, who also contributes striking guitar work throughout), The List includes Cash’s covers of songs by The Carter Family (“Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow”), Hank Williams (“Take These Chains From My Heart”), Jimmie Rodgers (“Miss The Mississippi and You”), Hank Cochran/Patsy Cline (“She’s Got You”), Merle Haggard (“Silver Wings”), and Bob Dylan (“Girl From the North Country,” famously done by Dylan and Johnny Cash in 1969).
The album also features a host of special guests whom Cash admires, including Bruce Springsteen (on “Sea of Heartbreak”), Elvis Costello (on “Heartaches by the Number”), Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy (on “Long Black Veil”), and Rufus Wainwright (on “Silver Wings”).
I’d love to see the whole list Cash gave her, but could not find it online. The 12 songs recorded for the record look interesting.