It was the early ’70s, and the teenager, like most girls her age, was immersed in the music of The Beatles and Buffalo Springfield. One afternoon, as discussion on the tour bus turned to classic country songs, Rosanne admitted to her father she’d never heard several of the tunes he rated among his favorites.
This was some revelation. It was as if, a half-century earlier, Edsel Ford had told his dad, Henry, he’d never seen a carburetor.
The elder Cash spent the remainder of the day putting pen to paper, drafting “100 Essential Country Songs,” a genre-defying inventory of the folk, gospel, blues, and, of course, country songs that shaped his life and informed his legendary body of work.
Twelve of those songs make up Rosanne Cash’s latest album, “The List,” a testament to the power of her late father’s gift.
More than just a primer course in American roots music, the Man in Black’s list served as a sort of genealogical document–the blueprint behind the Cash family business.
To hear Rosanne sing a song like the iconic tears-in-your-beer ballad “Sea of Heartbreak” is to hear a daughter embrace her musical heritage and, more importantly, move closer to understanding her father.
The list may have only taken Johnny a few hours to compile, but it’s stayed with Rosanne for more than three decades. A more meaningful keepsake he could not have given.