Rosanne Cash: "Composed" (Viking) (Rebroadcast)

MS. DIANE REHM

10:06:54
Thanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Rosanne Cash has been writing and performing on stage for more than three decades. In her new memoir titled "Composed," she writes, "I've often attempted to explain my experiences to myself through songs." Part of those experiences involving the daughter of the legendary singer, Johnny Cash. Rosanne Cash has recently released a CD based on a list her father gave her when she was a teenager. He called it 100 essential country songs. This CD is entitled "The List." And let's listen to one of those songs.

MS. DIANE REHM

10:08:56
Rosanne Cash, what a pleasure to meet you.

MS. ROSANNE CASH

10:09:00
(laugh) My honor to be on your show.

REHM

10:09:02
Thank you. And to hear you sing that Patsy Cline song -- tell me what it was like for you to sing that song, which I know was a favorite of your mother's.

CASH

10:09:17
That was perhaps the most intimidating song to approach from "The List..."

REHM

10:09:23
Really?

CASH

10:09:23
...and thinking about recording it. In fact, I kept saying to my husband John, who produced and arranged the record, I said, I just can't do -- I can't do a song that Patsy Cline did. And he said, well, think about it. It's been over 40 years since she sang that song. There's a whole generation that perhaps never heard it. And ultimately, I think a great song deserves a lot of interpretations.

REHM

10:09:46
So your interpretation finally felt as?

CASH

10:09:52
It felt often authentic. At one point in the studio, I asked Patsy to help me.

REHM

10:09:59
And I'll bet she did.

CASH

10:10:00
Well, in a metaphorical way, maybe she did.

REHM

10:10:02
I'll bet she did. This -- the title of your memoir, "Composed..."

CASH

10:10:09
Yes.

REHM

10:10:10
...has lots of meanings, I would think.

CASH

10:10:12
Sure. Well, its references some measure of grace that I hope I retained at this, well, you know, my old age. (laugh) But also, it's about compositions, you know, writing music for all of these years.

REHM

10:10:28
But that state of feeling composed...

CASH

10:10:32
Yes.

REHM

10:10:33
...is something takes long line.

CASH

10:10:37
It does. I mean, if you grow in to learning a skill, you grow in to becoming a good wife and mother, you grow in to being -- feeling at home on the stage, or at least I did. And, you know, ultimately, I got rid of my reflex resistance to my dad's legacy and trying to do this on my own. I wanna carve out my own spot, which is totally appropriate as a young woman, but not very graceful as a middle-aged woman. So that's -- the title, "Composed," also references some kind of authenticity that I feel at this point.

REHM

10:11:14
How difficult was it to find out who you were in the face of that extraordinary legacy?

CASH

10:11:25
Well, it's was a challenge. I mean, I always say I think it would have been harder if I'd been a boy. (laugh) But, you know, to go in the same field where my dad cast such an iconic shadow, it was complicated for me. Fortunately, he understood how complicated it was.

REHM

10:11:45
He really did.

CASH

10:11:46
He did. And he was not hurt or offended by the fact that I wanted to push away and not immerse myself in what he was doing, and very respectful, very loving.

REHM

10:12:00
When did you accompany him on his concert? How old were you?

CASH

10:12:06
Well, that was straight out of high school. And that was just -- that was not a professional thing. That was just a chance to be with my dad.

REHM

10:12:14
And to be with him to see him in his element, do you remember how you felt?

CASH

10:12:24
Well, of course, it wasn't the first time I've seen him on stage. But it was like immersion therapy to see him every night for, you know, nearly three years. I was on that tour with him. And to see how he worked out all of his problems in the spotlight and how he had this unique relationship to an audience. He felt very safe with an audience, safer than anywhere else, I think. And that was -- you know, I begin to realize that I couldn't be resentful about sharing my dad with the world anymore...

REHM

10:13:02
Hmm.

CASH

10:13:02
...because he had a large mission that was in the world.

REHM

10:13:05
Interesting. You wrote that sometimes he would look out into the audience and see somebody yawn or somebody's eyes who were glazed and he'd have to get pass that.

CASH

10:13:22
Sure. I think any performer does. That happens to everyone. I -- you know, I wrote about that very thing in my book about -- a friend told me I was complaining about having a bad night. I wasn't connecting with the audience. They weren't paying attention, whatever. And he said sing to the 6 percent who are poets. They will always hear you. And I just keep that in mind. Whenever I'm having a tough time on stage or I'm not connecting, I think, the 6 percent are out there.

REHM

10:13:52
And they're so with you.

CASH

10:13:55
There's so with me.

REHM

10:13:56
Absolutely. This is -- seems to me both a spiritual and kind of the metaphysical memoirs.

CASH

10:14:10
And yet, grounded in real world artifacts and real world experiences and memories, spiritual in the most ecumenical sense of the word I would say, meaning art and music are spiritual to me, the deepest kind of spirituality, I find in art. So that is pretty much the framework to my book in my life, you know, how art can infuse everything.

REHM

10:14:37
You told your dad about working on this book in 2001...

CASH

10:14:44
Yes.

REHM

10:14:45
...when he was in the hospital. Would you read that portion for us?

CASH

10:14:49
Sure. Now, this comes at the end of a chapter I wrote about a six month sojourn in London when I was very young. I was 20 years old. And it was a coming of age experience for me. Twenty-five years later, my dad was having a serious of health crisis and he was in intensive care. And I visited him in the hospital and told him that I was writing this book. He harrumphed emphatically, one of the peculiar ways he liked to communicate. I described one of the chapters to him. I'm sitting on a beach in Jamaica staring at the sky and letting the title role of my own future wash over me and draw me forward. I am full of my unlived life and the joy of anticipation for it is taking me apart, cell by cell, and putting me back together in ways that could accommodate a thousand potentials. I am certain to outgrow myself. I can feel it all coming from me and I am running to meet it in my deepest heart in London.

CASH

10:16:02
I was deliberately eloquent for him describing my feelings in detail. The anticipation and the smell of the sea and the darkness, the brightness of the stars, my young smooth feet in the sand and the two silent boys at my side like gargoyles protecting my dream. He grew still and stared straight ahead through the glass doors to the nurse's station while I talked. When I finished, he turned to me with surprise. You got me with that chapter. He thought for a moment. I didn't know you felt all those things then. Neither of us spoke for a moment or two then softly I said, well, I did. Dad's eyes glazed a bit and he said quietly, just to think of you makes my heart swell with pride.

REHM

10:16:55
Beautiful.

CASH

10:16:56
Thank you.

REHM

10:16:57
And I'm sure that when you heard those words, you must have been so taken.

CASH

10:17:08
I still carry those words with me.

REHM

10:17:10
I'll bet.

CASH

10:17:10
Whenever things get hard, sometimes I think of those words. That was that moment that was the microcosm of my dad's love.

REHM

10:17:20
You said in those words, I'm certain to outgrow myself. What did that mean?

CASH

10:17:29
I had that feeling that I think a lot of young people have where you sense your potential but it's beyond your reach still. And I wanted it so badly and had no idea how to get there. I wanted to be a great writer. I wanted to be a songwriter. I wanted to figure out who I was apart from my very big family -- influential family. And I thought I might have to move across the ocean to discover all those things. And truly, those six months in London was -- were the beginning of me discovering that. And feeling my potential just a little bit more took me years to start getting there.

REHM

10:18:10
Rosanne Cash, her new CD is titled "The List" and her new memoirs is "Composed." We're going to open the phones in just a few moments. Join us, 800-433-8850.

REHM

10:20:02
And welcome back. Of course you just heard "Silver Wings," and Rufus Wainwright was also singing on that recording.

CASH

10:20:13
He comes in a little later than my own cut, yes.

REHM

10:20:14
Yes, yes.

CASH

10:20:15
He's a wonderful singer.

REHM

10:20:17
Your parents actually split up when you were 12. Your dad married June Carter. What was your relationship with her?

CASH

10:20:28
It was very good. It didn't start out complicated like some step relationships did, and it never got that way, really. She -- I was very lucky that I had two very strong women in my life -- my stepmother June, my mother Vivian -- and they both provided opposite things. (laugh)

REHM

10:20:51
Well, they were so different.

CASH

10:20:52
They were so different. My mother provided a lot of discipline, structure, kind of attention to detail. June provided this sense of expansion and a great template as a performer because she was exactly the same offstage as she was on. It was really remarkable.

REHM

10:21:15
Now, when your father left your mother...

CASH

10:21:20
Mm-hmm.

REHM

10:21:20
...Vivian, how did you feel about his leaving her behind?

CASH

10:21:28
Well, he didn't leave me behind. And I felt -- even at the age of 12, 11 or 12, I thought, when I knew they were gonna break up, I thought, well, maybe they both have a chance to be happy now. Of course that is a very adult thing for a child to think, and I'm sure that I was compensating for my feelings in some way by giving it a philosophical, you know, overtone. But they did become happy apart from each other, and that just was for the better.

REHM

10:21:59
She was not comfortable with your father's public life.

CASH

10:22:04
Not only that, but at that time, you know, my father was deep in his addiction, and my mother had no understanding and was not equipped to deal with that.

REHM

10:22:14
How did she?

CASH

10:22:16
Well, she was angry. She got very bitter for a while, you know. And she was Catholic, too, so to get divorced back then, that was just horrendous. She couldn't even conceive of it. So this really turned her life inside out.

REHM

10:22:30
And did you stay with her...

CASH

10:22:34
Yes.

REHM

10:22:34
...for quite some time?

CASH

10:22:36
I did. I did see my dad. You know, like any divorced families, you see your father on weekends and holidays. But I grew up in Southern California with my mother.

REHM

10:22:46
And stayed with her until you were how old?

CASH

10:22:48
18. I actually left the day after I graduated from high school. And then I pieced together a little college (laugh) along the way.

REHM

10:22:56
But then, you know, this time that you spent with your dad after high school have to really have had an impact on you.

CASH

10:23:07
An enormous impact. It was life-changing. And that was the tour that very summer that he gave me the list of songs, which I held up as, you know, how great songs were written. I studied these songs. I asked him how each one went. How does this go? How does this go? And that was what made me think I wanted to be a songwriter.

REHM

10:23:30
The song "500 Miles" is from that list. Tell us about that song.

CASH

10:23:36
That is a quintessential American song. It's been covered by many, many people: Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bobby Bare. And sometimes it's kind of a campfire song, but this version is very sad.

REHM

10:25:50
And that's your daughter?

CASH

10:25:52
That was my daughter joining in on the end.

REHM

10:25:53
Singing in harmony.

CASH

10:25:54
(laugh) I know.

REHM

10:25:55
How wonderful.

CASH

10:25:56
She just released her first record last year. She's a wonderful songwriter.

REHM

10:26:01
You know...

CASH

10:26:02
I don't know where she gets it. (laugh)

REHM

10:26:05
Considering the fact that you saw all the difficulties of a public life up close, it's remarkable that you chose to follow that route.

CASH

10:26:20
That shows, I think, the strength and passion I felt about music and writing. And I had to grow into a life as a performer because I was -- you know, I had children. I didn't wanna leave them, and I have balanced that pretty well, I think. I have never gone on a really long tour because of my kids. But my mother had a lot of anxiety about that lifestyle, about a musician's lifestyle. I mean, from what she knew, you got addicted to drugs…

REHM

10:26:46
Right.

CASH

10:26:46
...you were always gone...

REHM

10:26:47
Right.

CASH

10:26:47
...and your marriage fell apart.

REHM

10:26:48
Right.

CASH

10:26:48
Why would you wanna do this? (laugh) But I've, you know, got a happy marriage, not on drugs, raised my children and I love my life.

REHM

10:26:58
You've, however, had some pretty serious medical problems.

CASH

10:27:04
Yes, I have.

REHM

10:27:05
And before the program began, you were warming up your voice...

CASH

10:27:11
Mmm.

REHM

10:27:12
...something every performer has to do. But you had some particular problems with your voice for a while.

CASH

10:27:20
I did. I lost my voice for 2 1/2 years. I had vocal polyps, and I got pregnant. And for some reason, the hormones of pregnancy made them grow and grow and grow...

REHM

10:27:30
Wow.

CASH

10:27:30
...which is kind of science fiction, but it's true.

REHM

10:27:33
Wow.

CASH

10:27:34
And I didn't know if I'd ever get my voice back. And I was -- it really shook me to the core. I had always thought of myself as a writer, but then losing my voice made me realize how deeply important and precious my voice was to me.

REHM

10:27:49
And then the polyps simply disappeared or what?

CASH

10:27:53
They did after I finished nursing my baby and the hormone settled back down. It took a long time. It took 2 1/2 years. But then my voice was wrecked and I had to rebuild it from scratch.

REHM

10:28:05
But they did not have to...

CASH

10:28:06
Did not have to do surgery, thank God.

REHM

10:28:07
...remove. Yes. But then...

CASH

10:28:10
Then... (laugh)

REHM

10:28:11
Then...

CASH

10:28:12
I had brain surgery.

REHM

10:28:14
Why?

CASH

10:28:15
I had a structural problem in my brain. The short version is that my cerebellum was too low and it was crushing my brainstem. So I was really -- I mean, headaches for years, but I was becoming incapacitated. It was getting worse. And my husband was go great, greatest patient advocate ever and found the best neurosurgeon. And I'm doing well. I mean, it's been a hard recovery, but I'm doing very well.

REHM

10:28:42
How long ago was...

CASH

10:28:43
2 1/2 years.

REHM

10:28:44
Just 2 1/2 years?

CASH

10:28:46
Yeah. The first year was very tough.

REHM

10:28:47
Oh my.

CASH

10:28:48
Yeah.

REHM

10:28:49
And now here you are...

CASH

10:28:51
And here I am.

REHM

10:28:52
...with a new CD and a new memoir.

CASH

10:28:55
Yeah. I -- you know, looking at your own mortality lends a sense of urgency about the things you wanna do in your life. And when I started to recover, I thought, what do I really wanna do? I wanna finish this book. I wanna make the list. So I've done those two things.

REHM

10:29:12
How are your children? How old are they now?

CASH

10:29:17
My stepdaughter Hannah, who I claim as my own, is 34. And Katelyn is 30, Chelsea 28. She's the one who just made the record. Carrie is 21, just left home. She's in college and she just moved out of the house. It just broke both of our hearts. And my son Jake is 11.

REHM

10:29:40
Wow.

CASH

10:29:40
So I've covered the spectrum of motherhood.

REHM

10:29:42
You really, really have. We've got a number of callers. And here's a message from a number of callers. And here is a message from Dee (sp?) on Facebook, who says, "Rosanne Cash is an amazing singer and songwriter. I'd like to know when she wrote her first song, and did performing come naturally coming from such a talented family?"

CASH

10:30:10
I wrote -- well, there's two different questions. I wrote my first song...

REHM

10:30:14
Right.

CASH

10:30:14
...or my first good song? (laugh)

REHM

10:30:17
That's a good question.

CASH

10:30:18
Right. I wrote my first song at 18. I wrote my first good song at 21.

REHM

10:30:22
What happened to the song you wrote at 18?

CASH

10:30:25
Oh, hundreds of them, Diane. They've just...

REHM

10:30:27
Hundreds.

CASH

10:30:27
They're that I tossed, just trying to learn the craft.

REHM

10:30:30
Right.

CASH

10:30:32
Performing did not come naturally. I had to grow into that because I was naturally pretty reticent. I didn't feel I wanted that much attention. And also, I had a great performer as a parent. And I thought, well, I don't have a right to do the same thing. He's so special. But, you know, you find out who you are on the stage.

REHM

10:30:53
Do you remember that very first performance?

CASH

10:30:57
I was terrified. Northern California. My first record came out. I was just paralyzed with fear but I got through it. I met somebody the other day who was at that performance. And he said (laugh) he just remembers how scared I was. (laugh)

REHM

10:31:14
Do you remember the song you sang?

CASH

10:31:17
Oh, I did a whole show.

REHM

10:31:19
You did.

CASH

10:31:19
Yeah. I did a whole show. I was totally ill-equipped. But something else I talk about in the book, if you just keep your head down and keep showing up...

REHM

10:31:28
Keep showing up.

CASH

10:31:28
...and keep doing the work, it'll come.

REHM

10:31:32
I had the same feeling...

CASH

10:31:33
Yes.

REHM

10:31:33
...same experience.

CASH

10:31:35
Well, you can tell that you've done that through your life.

REHM

10:31:37
You just keep showing up…

CASH

10:31:39
Right.

REHM

10:31:40
...and that's what you have to do. "September When It Comes," tell me about that song.

CASH

10:31:49
That song -- I wrote the lyrics when my dad was in another very ill-health crisis and we were afraid of losing him. So it’s a song about mortality. My husband wrote the music to it, and I recorded it with my dad. The first thing we did together like this.

REHM

10:33:21
Hard for you to hear this one.

CASH

10:33:24
Yeah. I never listen to it because it's just -- it's too bittersweet, you know? It's like the ultimate family photograph.

REHM

10:33:33
Such beautiful voices combined.

CASH

10:33:37
You know what? My dad told me once -- he saw this voice doctor at Vanderbilt, a very famous voice doctor, and the doctor said to him, do you think your voice and your daughter Rosanne's voice are similar? And my dad said, not at all. They couldn't be more different. And the doctor said, I've done this spectrum analysis on them. He said, they're identical.

REHM

10:34:00
Wow. (laugh) Wow.

CASH

10:34:04
I couldn't believe it.

REHM

10:34:05
And he told you that?

CASH

10:34:06
Yeah. My dad told me.

REHM

10:34:10
What was he like to be with?

CASH

10:34:15
He was propelled by rhythm, always feeling rhythm and thinking about rhythm. So he had all these nervous ticks, you know? He was always moving. He was a very restless person. And always very -- and dreamy, too, you know? He thought differently than anyone I've ever known and incredibly intelligent. Had this expanse of understanding of art, music, spirituality and the world. That was very unique. And he could meet you on that level even as a child -- when you were a child, you know? He found who you are and met you.

REHM

10:34:54
Did he behave differently toward you when he was in the throes of addiction?

CASH

10:35:01
Of course. Someone who is an active addict is just an awful person to be around, you know? Marshall Grant, who was my dad's bass player for many years, said there were two people, you know? There was Johnny Cash when he was an active addict and then there was John.

REHM

10:35:19
But there was also Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash's father.

CASH

10:35:25
Even when he was in his active phase of addiction, he -- his destruction was turned inward. He was never unkind to us children. He might be distant and, you know, crazed but even in that there was this -- he would write us letters. There was always an impulse to stay a dad.

REHM

10:35:49
What kinds of letters?

CASH

10:35:51
I miss you. I'm in Poland tonight. I've got two shows tomorrow. Then I'll see you on the weekend, you know? Call me. Here's my number. Those kinds.

REHM

10:36:01
Of course, that was before the days of Skype...

CASH

10:36:02
Before fax is even -- yes. (laugh)

REHM

10:36:04
Yeah. Exactly. You must have missed him a lot.

CASH

10:36:10
I still do. Sometimes, when I really miss him, I'll get in a taxi or walk in a store and he'll be on the radio (laugh) and it feels like getting a hug.

REHM

10:36:21
Or you come onto a radio program...

CASH

10:36:24
Well, that song, in particular, is very hard to listen to and still.

REHM

10:36:27
Very hard to listen to.

CASH

10:36:29
Yeah. Yeah.

REHM

10:36:30
What about his performances with June Carter Cash?

CASH

10:36:36
Oh, they were funny together, you know? She'd be -- she had a great comedic streak, and that would come out when they perform together. My dad softened around her visibly. He softened around most women, you know? He was kind of a man's man, but he loved women and would, you know, bring it down a notch. (laugh)

REHM

10:37:00
Bringing it down a notch meant being more warm and giving...

CASH

10:37:05
Yes, of course.

REHM

10:37:06
...kinder...

CASH

10:37:08
Yeah. Sweeter, pretending to be interested in things that women were interested in. (laugh)

REHM

10:37:15
Rosanne Cash, her new memoir is titled, "Composed." Her latest CD is "The List"

REHM

10:40:02
And Rosanne Cash is with me. Her new memoir is titled "Composed". Her latest CD is "The List." And by the way, on our website you can see a film of Rosanne Cash with her dad, family photos and a film I think you'll enjoy. Do join us, 800-433-8850. Let's go to Ogden, Utah. Doug, you're on the air.

DOUG

10:40:42
Hi Diane. Thank you for taking my call.

REHM

10:40:44
Surely.

DOUG

10:40:44
Rosanne, I want to comment on your comment you made earlier. In that younger people, they seemed to start to realize their potential but it's just out of their grasp.

CASH

10:41:01
Mm-hmm.

DOUG

10:41:02
I have two girls, 15 and 17. And I see that they sometimes get impatient, and they want to grasp that potential. And I keep telling them, work on building that foundation. Don't worry about what's going to come later, your potential will come. And I think your comment that you made earlier that the potential is just out of their reach is -- it's like a bullet hitting you. It's -- well, why didn't I think of that before? (laugh) I mean, it's now so simple. (laugh) It's that you put it in a text that's so easy to understand. And I just want to thank you for making that comment.

CASH

10:41:43
Well, thank you very much.

REHM

10:41:45
All right, sir. Thanks for calling. And now to Hull, Mass. Good morning, Peter.

PETER

10:41:54
Good morning, Diane. Thank you very much for taking my call. I'm a first time caller.

REHM

10:41:58
Ah, good.

PETER

10:42:00
And it is quite an honor to -- (sounds like) I feel lucky to ask a question to Ms. Cash, and it relates to her song writing process. I'm wondering if it is always a lyric-driven or melody-driven process, and how that contrasts you, like, on his father's playing that she wrote music?

CASH

10:42:21
Well, you know, that -- it's a very private kind of experience, so I can't even say how my father wrote. I know that sometimes he got inspiration from dreams. And I know also that he was very much propelled by rhythm, so sometimes he would feel a rhythm before he felt a lyric. For myself, it -- there's no formula. Sometimes a lyric will stay in my head for weeks or months, and I'll finally flush it out and then find the melody. The best, for me, is when it comes together at the same time.

REHM

10:42:50
Oh, gosh.

CASH

10:42:52
And then I feel like, oh, tingly in the head and I'm so happy. (laugh)

REHM

10:42:56
How often does that happen?

CASH

10:42:58
Often enough that I keep doing it. (laugh)

REHM

10:43:00
Oh, that's great.

CASH

10:43:02
And thank you. That was a good question. Thank you.

REHM

10:43:03
Thanks for calling, Peter. Here's a message from Bill in Gainesville, Fla. He says, "Ms. Cash's 'The List' is the best new album I've heard in a long time. Does she have any plans to make more albums based on her father's list? And if so, when?"

CASH

10:43:28
When?

CASH

10:43:29
The answer is, yes.

REHM

10:43:31
Good.

CASH

10:43:31
And also, I don't know when. I don't think it'll be my next record. I wanna, you know, kind of restate my claim as a song writer again. But definitely, I'm going to do volume two of "The List."

REHM

10:43:44
You know, you are such a talented individual. You were actually -- took up painting. Tell me about that process.

CASH

10:43:54
That was an exercise that I took up to free myself of words for a while. I was so working with words and language and melody all the time, I wanted to see what it felt like to give all that up and just work with a physical medium with paint. It was so revealing because I saw that what I did in painting, the self-editing, the self-criticism, the insecurities, the process, was exactly the same as songwriting, exactly. So I was happy to have that knowledge to go back to songwriting with. And then when I return to language and melody, it was so fresh and wonderful. I'm not a good painter.

REHM

10:44:34
But you had courage enough to try to paint.

CASH

10:44:38
To try, yeah.

REHM

10:44:40
And had you painted as a child?

CASH

10:44:44
No, never. I never had any confidence as a visual artist.

REHM

10:44:47
Nor I.

CASH

10:44:48
Yeah.

REHM

10:44:48
And yet once you begin, you know, you can surprise yourself.

CASH

10:44:54
Right. And even just the process of it is so wonderful, you know? I mean, you know, it's not going to hang in a gallery or anything, but it was great for me.

REHM

10:45:03
And it does something else. It touches on some part of you that perhaps had not been revealed to you.

CASH

10:45:13
Exactly. I had a much greater understanding of myself as a writer after spending a couple of years painting.

REHM

10:45:23
You know, I once spent some time learning to draw which I, from elementary school, had believed I could not do.

CASH

10:45:36
Could not do.

REHM

10:45:37
And yet through a process, I turned things upside down and was able to draw beautifully.

CASH

10:45:50
That's so interesting. You stimulated a part of your brain that had been just waiting.

REHM

10:45:54
(laugh) Precisely. You touched exactly on it. All right. Let's go to Raleigh, N.C. Good morning, Jeremy.

JEREMY

10:46:04
Hi, good morning. I just wondered what Ms. Cash thought of the movie "Walk the Line" that portrayed her father, it was Joaquin Phoenix?

CASH

10:46:11
Well, I thought about it probably what you would think about a Hollywood film, about the most painful parts of your childhood. (laugh) It was not a pleasant experience for me. I understood that other people like it and some people even introduced to my dad's music through it. It's great. It just wasn't for me and my family. You know what I mean? It was too complex of a story to be reduced to two hours.

REHM

10:46:38
Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. And perhaps too personal in some ways and not personal enough in others?

CASH

10:46:48
Well, you know, the movie, "Ray," about Ray Charles? I loved that movie.

REHM

10:46:51
Yes, yes.

CASH

10:46:53
I loved it. But I bet, if you talk to Ray Charles' children (laugh) or his wife or his brothers and sisters, you would -- they would say, well, it wasn't exactly like that for me.

REHM

10:47:04
Let's go now to Cleveland, Ohio. Good morning, Eddie.

EDDIE

10:47:10
Good morning. Rosanne, I just want -- my comment is, I was at your sister Tara's wedding in Hendersonville, at your dad's house.

CASH

10:47:21
Wow.

EDDIE

10:47:22
And I met you. I met you. I was introduced to you. And, of course, I met your father and he had just finished his meal in the tent. Remember, they had a big tent out there?

CASH

10:47:32
Yeah, I do.

EDDIE

10:47:33
Yeah. Yes. And I went up to him and I said, "Mr. Cash, my name is Eddie. It's an honor to meet you." He stood up, he shook my hand and said, "Eddie, just call me Johnny."

CASH

10:47:50
Well, that was him. (laugh) He was always very kind and gracious to people.

EDDIE

10:47:53
And that was it. And it was just such a great experience. And the home was off limits, but Tara took me in and showed me the rooms (laugh) and all those awards and things like that. So it was a wonderful experience for me. (unintelligible)

CASH

10:48:08
Well, she was always a rebel.

REHM

10:48:12
When you say she was a rebel, what do you mean?

CASH

10:48:15
Oh, just -- I'm teasing. See, I'm actually closest to Tara. She's my baby sister. She lives in Portland, Ore. She's a great person.

REHM

10:48:24
To Ogden, Utah. Good morning, Alice.

ALICE

10:48:29
Good morning. Thank you for taking my call.

REHM

10:48:31
Sure.

ALICE

10:48:32
I just tick my curiosity because Ms. Cash, you know, picked up being an artist or painting. And I have a nephew who is in Portland, Ore. and he -- he's in the music business, and he's very talented. And I just wanna know what advice to give to him. He's an artist. He, you know, plays music, instruments and he paints. And he just seems to be wandering. And I -- you know, he didn't have the base that Ms. Cash have, you know, the platform and the foundation. And what advice can I give to him? I'm not sure, you know, what to tell him, which way to go or what to do. I just -- you know?

CASH

10:49:11
Well, the best advice that was given to me was refine your skills so you can support your instincts. Meaning, those great impulses and passion that he feels for the things that he wants, he needs to have a skill set and discipline to support that so that when that inspiration comes, he has the tools to translate it. Do you know what I mean? So that's the best advice I got. And I worked hard. Like I said, I just kept showing up for myself.

REHM

10:49:42
Alice...

ALICE

10:49:43
Mm-hmm. Okay.

REHM

10:49:43
...I hope that helps.

ALICE

10:49:46
Yeah. You -- do you mean like education, like going into -- you know, actually being -- you know, because he's like self-taught?

CASH

10:49:53
Mm-hmm. That's okay. My husband is self-taught, and he's one of the greatest musicians I know.

REHM

10:49:59
So...

CASH

10:50:00
Maybe the education comes from his own self. (laugh)

REHM

10:50:02
Exactly. Thanks for calling, Alice. Rosanne, you had to write for eulogies...

CASH

10:50:11
Hmm.

REHM

10:50:12
...in a period at about two years. How did you get through that?

CASH

10:50:19
I said, I don't mind going to funerals, but I'm sick of sitting in the front row. (laugh) I -- well, the writing was actually therapeutic for me. It was an organizing principle for my feelings. The feelings were overwhelming. And yet, if I could bring some poetry to it or organize it as a, you know, an essay, then it helped. And also, it was a matter of honor. I wanted to honor these people and say what they had meant to me. They deserved that.

REHM

10:50:50
There was your father.

CASH

10:50:52
Mm-hmm.

REHM

10:50:53
There was your stepsister, Rosey.

CASH

10:50:56
Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

REHM

10:50:57
How did she die?

CASH

10:50:59
Rosey was -- she, well, she was an addict. And the circumstances of her death are a little bit murky, but it was definitely related to her addiction. She had a very tough life. And I just -- oh, it was so sad. You know, she was at her 40's and died six weeks after my dad.

REHM

10:51:18
Oh.

CASH

10:51:19
She was June's daughter. It was strange because her name was Rosey and mine, Rosanne, and so a lot of times people confused us. And I loved her, but it was almost like having a doppelganger in the world.

REHM

10:51:32
Oh, my gosh.

CASH

10:51:33
Yeah.

REHM

10:51:35
So you spoke at her service as well.

CASH

10:51:38
I did.

REHM

10:51:40
Tell me about the song "Sea of Heartbreak."

CASH

10:51:45
That song was written by Hal David and Paul Hampton and was first made famous in 1961 by Don Gibson, one of the great, great voices in country music. And it's also been covered by everyone from punk bands to Irish bands, to my dad did it as well, on one of the American recordings. And that song is on "The List."

REHM

10:53:38
And, of course, that's Bruce Springsteen.

CASH

10:53:41
Bruce Springsteen doing a duet with me, who could have ever imagined? (laugh)

REHM

10:53:46
How did that come about?

CASH

10:53:47
We asked him. I mean, we -- John and I are thinking who is the quintessential American male voice to sing a duet with you on this? I said, well, that's Bruce Springsteen. Do you think he'll do it? Let's ask. And he said yes. I've known him on and off for, you know, 25 years, but it was such a thrill. And then I played at Duke University a few months ago and he came to the show. And John said, I hate to ask the obvious, but would you sing "Sea of Heartbreak"? And so he came out and sang it. The audience went crazy.

REHM

10:54:50
How I love hearing that.

CASH

10:54:52
Oh, thank you.

REHM

10:54:53
Just wonderful. There's a last song I wanna play from your CD, "The List." It's the one with just you and your husband, John Leventhal, "Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow."

CASH

10:55:11
This is a Carter family song. This is perhaps the oldest song on "The List." And Helen Carter taught it to me herself.

REHM

10:56:18
Rosanne Cash, singer, songwriter. Her new memoir is titled "Composed," and her latest CD is "The List." What a pleasure to talk with you.

CASH

10:56:35
I have enjoyed this so much, Diane. Thank you.

REHM

10:56:37
The hour has been too short. (laugh)

CASH

10:56:40
I agree.

REHM

10:56:41
Come back and see me again.

CASH

10:56:43
Thank you.

REHM

10:56:43
And thanks to all of you for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.

ANNOUNCER

10:57:18
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