Last evening I had the extreme pleasure of hearing Rosanne Cash in the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe. As Saturday afternoon DJ on Raton’s KRTN-93.9 FM hosting “L’il Sharon’s Country Cafe” and admitted devotee of Grand Ol’ Opry roots music, I was thrilled to hear Miss Cash perform from her new roots release, “The List.”
More of an interpreter than a belter, she entranced the packed house with her deep and subtle emotions and her way of giving herself completely to a song. How gutsy of her to cover Patsy Cline material like “She’s Got You,” Hank Snow’s “Movin On,” and “Long Black Veil,” written by Lefty Frizzel and immortalized by her dad. Maybe she waited so long to do this because she had to know with complete assurance she could make them hers.
“The List” comes from a list her father, Johnny Cash, gave her of 100 tunes she needed to know, when she was only 18 and went on the road with him the day after high school graduation. I treasured every word of Miss Cash’s stories about how she toured with Carl Perkins and the Carter Family. She shared that her step-aunt, Helen Carter, taught her “Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow” and other Carter family legacies.
Actually, Rosanne Cash is the personification of the legacy that goes back even further than the 1927 Bristol sessions, when the Carter family and other musicians came out of the woods to make their first recordings. With the passing of Johnny and June, she seems to be stepping into the spotlight of legend herself now.
Even so, her own song, “Seven Year Ache” rocked the house in the highlight of the show. What a fabulous stage the pink curlicues of the faux-Moorish Lensic provides. Plus perfect acoustics.
It’s a long list. There ought to be more recordings to follow.