April 12, 2003

THE SHADOWS LENGTHEN AND BURN AWAY THE PAST:

Made With Love: Rosanne Cash is the friend who will say, or sing, what you can't (Robert Wilonsky, 4/10/03, Dallas Observer)
There's a reason rock critics--and Nation writers--love Rosanne Cash: because she's a writer of prose and essays who also happens to play guitar, possess a wondrous voice (Metaphor No. 148: warm steam off a frozen pond at dawn; Metaphor 593: a down comforter on a winter's night; there's plenty more), conjure resonant melodies and have for a father one of music's most legendary figures she's now comfortable to talk about. At last, they even sing together on Rules of Travel: The song's called "September When it Comes," and though it could and should apply to any child making peace with an aging, ailing parent, the fact it's Johnny and Rosanne trading lines about lengthening shadows that will "fly me like an angel to a place where I can rest" makes it feel like a family heirloom.

"But if it was just about me and my dad, then it kind of reduces it to narcissism," she insists. "It's about that exchange that goes on with an adult child and a parent facing mortality and the changes that happen then and that adult child coming to some sort of resolution about her childhood and past, which is common to all of us, if you're the least bit awake. Then it's served its purpose; then it is of service. Just about me and my dad--ultimately, who cares?" [...]

[J]ust as war broke out, Cash posted to her Web site, www.rosannecash.com, an essay in which she condemned the Bush administration for launching a pre-emptive first strike against Iraq and those who would damn war protesters for being anti-American. "I am American by birth, by choice and by love, and the right of free speech is the tenet I hold most dear," she wrote. "Therefore I am not afraid to say, as an American and a mother, that I think this war is a grave mistake, but I do support the young men and women who have been sent to fight it, and I wish them a hasty return home." Though it's doubtful her anti-war stance will affect album sales--she's no Natalie Maines, that coward--it sure ain't gonna help her.

"But it wasn't a career move," she says, with that familiar tinge of defiance. "I mean, the way I was raised was that you have to have the courage of your convictions, even if they're unpopular. And I'm a citizen, too. I get to say what I think. Yeah, I didn't do myself any favors in one regard, but in another regard, I can tell my grandchildren that I was against the war and I said so. I get letters from people saying they're going to tell everybody not to buy my records and calling me every name in the book. I'll tell you something really funny, though.

"My daughter, who's 21, she's really good at doing fan mail and stuff, so I hired her to go through the e-mails. If they're just photo requests or something, she refers them where to send their requests, all that stuff. So, the poor thing, right after I signed the petition and did the press conference with David Byrne and Russell Simmons, I got, you know, 500 e-mails, and a lot of them were incredibly nasty--name-calling, abusive, blah blah blah. She's not supposed to write back to these people, but she said, 'Mom, I just couldn't help it.' And I was like, 'Oh, my God, what did you say?' She said, 'I told her, "If you ever talk to my mother like that again, I will hunt you down. I am not peaceful like she is."' I thought it was so great. 'I am not peaceful like she is.'"


The tune with her Dad is outstanding:
SEPTEMBER WHEN IT COMES (Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal)

There's a cross above the baby's bed
a savior in her dreams
but she was not delivered then
and the baby became me
There's a light inside the darkened room
a footstep on the stair
a door that I forever close
to leave those memories there

When the shadows lengthen
into a copper sun
first there's summer, then I'll let you in
September when it comes

I want to crawl outside these walls
close my eyes and see
fall into your heart and arms
touch your face and breathe
I cannot move a mountain now
I can no longer run
I cannot be who I was then
in a way I never was

I watch the clouds go sailing
watch the clock and sun
I watch myself depending on
September when it comes

When the shadows lengthen
and burn away the past
I will fly me like an angel to
a place where I can rest
When winds begin I'll let you in
September when it comes


Johnny Cash singing "I cannot move a mountain now. I can no longer run. I cannot be who I was then, in a way I never was." is heartrending. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 12, 2003 7:36 AM
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