“It required some distance.”
58-year old American singer and songwriter Rosanne Cash was raised in California and has lived in New York for almost twenty years; however, recently, Cash, daughter of legendary singer Johnny Cash, traveled down south to help raise funds for Arkansas State University’s effort to purchase and restore her father’s childhood home in Dyess, Arkansas.
From these series of trips, via car and into into her family history, her new album, “The River and the Thread,” was born.
“The river is the Mississippi because all of the songs are about the Delta, except for ‘When the Master Calls the Roll’ which is about Virginia,” Cash said in an interview with Time magazine. “As well as the river of your ancestors and your past, as Thornton Wilder says, ‘You step into the river of time and you step out.’ The thread is a literal thread. My friend Natalie Chanin taught me how to sew, and going down to Florence, Alabama, started the whole album. She said this incredible thing to me when she was teaching me how to sew, which is ‘You have to learn to love the thread.’ She wasn’t speaking metaphorically, but it became metaphorical. So they are both literal and symbolic.”
The album, released under Blue Note Records, includes lyrical-rich songs like “Etta’s Tune” based on Marshall Grant, the bass player in Johnny Cash’s band, and his wife; “A Feather’s Not a Bird,” and “Money Road.”
The song “The Long Way Home” focuses on Cash’s journey back to her roots.
“What makes you care about where your parents came from in your 40s and 50s that you didn’t care about in your 20s and 30s?” she said.
In the 1980s, Cash had several chart-topping singles including “Seven Year Ache.” The new album will be her first in seven years, though some songs off of the album have been whirling around in her head for a while.
“I had written a chorus for ‘Modern Blue’ and ‘A Feather’s Not A Bird,’ but the rest really started with the trips with the trips down south that John and I were taking starting in 2011. Virtually all the songs got written since 2011.”
Cash has been married to her second husband, Grammy Award-winning musician and songwriter John Leventhal, since 1995.
Guest appearances on “The River and the Thread” include Kris Kristofferson, Allison Moorer, John Prine, John Paul White from The Civil Wars, and Gabe Witcher from The Punch Brothers.
Image via Wikimedia Commons