Rosanne Cash’s “Composed” Is All About the Journeys
On the very first page of Composed, Rosanne Cash writes, “For me music has always involved journeys, both literal and metaphoric.” She traces these journeys as they take her from a California childhood to Europe, Nashville, and finally New York City, where she currently resides. They range from transcendent–performing “I Still Miss Someone” with her father at Carnegie Hall–to the downright ridiculous: a bizarre and hilarious account of lip-synching her songs at a German circus shortly after the release of her first album.
Don’t expect a dry, linear recitation of facts: anyone who’s read Cash’s short stories, pieces in The New York Times or her numerous tweets is aware of her quick wit and captivating writing style. And while you probably listen to country music (you are, after all, on this website), you don’t have to be a country fan to enjoy Composed.
Though the text provides insight into her musical career as well as some behind-the-scenes information about the processes behind her albums, Composed really shines when Cash delves into her personal relationships with her parents, friends, spouses, and children. She eloquently writes about the loss of her mother, father, and stepmother in the span of two years, and the moving eulogies she gave at each memorial service are included in the book. If you can get through them all (especially the one written for June) without a few tears falling, you probably don’t have a soul. The final chapters of the book focus on Cash’s 2007 brain surgery and touch briefly on The List, the covers album based on her father’s list of essential songs. Now 55, Cash shows no signs of slowing down or becoming set in her musical ways, an attitude reflected in her feelings about her songwriting: “I am always a beginner, again and again.”
At 241 pages, Composed is over far too soon. Sometimes poignant, sometimes funny, always engaging, it’s a book for anyone interested in the journeys on which music takes us all.
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