Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rosanne Cash Is On My List

I have been listening to Rosanne Cash’s new album The List. Rosanne is the daughter of Johnny Cash, and the 12 Songs on The List are from a list of 100 essential country songs her father wrote out for her on a yellow legal pad in the summer 1973, the year she graduated from high school. The grand tour of Europe is the American ideal for fresh graduates, but can’t compete to spending the summer on a tour bus across America with Johnny Cash.

The album is very low key, and each of these great songs gets to speak for itself. Here’s the song list:

1. Miss The Mississippi And You – perhaps the first of the give up the big city and go back to the country songs. Jimmie Rodgers does a version with his famous yodel and Emmy Lou Harris does a great version too on her album Roses in the Snow.

2. Motherless Children – an A.P. Carter classic that has been covered by everyone. Don't ponder too long on the lyric "sister does the best she can but she really don't understand."

3. Sea of Heartbreak (featuring Bruce Springsteen) - Johnny Cash himself did a version of this song on Unchained but it was Don Gibson who made this a classic.

4. Take These Chains From My Heart - Hank Williams made this song famous but you may know the Ray Charles version better.

5. I'm Movin' On - the Hank Snow classic, covered by everyone from Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. No, this is not the song by Rascal Flatts.

6. Heartaches By The Number (featuring Elvis Costello) - this song was a hit for Ray Price and Dwight Yoakam also does a nice cover.

7. 500 Miles - made famous by Peter, Paul, and Mary. You can hear the whistle blow 100 miles, but not at 500 miles from home. That's damn good hearing.

8. Long Black Veil (featuring Jeff Tweedy) - this ancient folk ballad was written in 1959. Johnny Cash did the definitive version on At Folsom Prison but Mick Jagger (with The Chieftains) did it justice too, as has Neko Case, and Hazel Dickens. Nobody knows but me.

9. She's Got You - Patsy Cline crossed over with this song. And I've got versions by Loretta Lynn, LeAnn Rhymes, Michelle Branch, and Red Molly.

10. Girl From The North Country - this has the reputation in some quarters as Bob Dylan's best song on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (everyone has a right to their favorite), and Johnny Cash sang it with him on Nashville Skyline.

11. Silver Wings (featuring Rufus Wainwright) - a Merle Haggard original. I'm guessing this was the song rattling around in Johnny Cash's head in that summer of 1973 and since has been slowly fading out of sight.

12. Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow - This was Maybelle Carter's song and the slightly humorous version by her daughter June Carter Cash at the Louisiana Hayride is good too, but check out Natalie Merchant on The House Carpenter's Daughter.

OK, that’s 12 but what are the other 88 songs? We may have to wait for 7 more albums to find out.

We do know that in a interview Rosanne has identified two as Battle of New Orleans and This Land is Your Land (good choices). The Porter Wagoner song Satisfied Mind is the Itunes bonus selection (unfair). And Sweet Memories featuring Chris Thile appears only on CDs sold at Barnes & Noble (double unfair).

Rosanne, if you think I'm going to two different places to get all the bonus tracks, you're on my list.

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