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August 10, 2010

Book Notes - Rosanne Cash ("Composed")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Having been a fan of Rosanne Cash's music as well as her essays and short fiction for years, her memoir Composed was one of my most anticipated books of the year.

Rosanne Cash may be a celebrity, but Composed is not a typical celebrity memoir. Crisply written, Cash openly shares her personal growth as a person, performer, and writer. The book's tales about pop culture icons (notably her father Johnny Cash and stepmother June Carter Cash) are always interesting, but it is her own story that fascinates.

The Chicago Tribune wrote of the book:

"That's more than just nifty writing. It's truth — a crooked but sturdy truth, the kind of truth that anchors this special book and marks it as one of the best accounts of an American life you'll likely ever read. Yes, Cash comes from a well-known family and makes her living in the entertainment business, but "Composed" is really about her spiritual growth as a daughter, a sister, a mother, a lover, a wife and an artist. It's about living "as a beginner," which is, she says, one of her goals: to be open to life's crazy changes, to be vulnerable enough to feel — but not so raw and unprotected that you're knocked silly by the blows."

In her own words, here is Rosanne Cash's Book Notes music playlist for her memoir, Composed:

"Sleeping In Paris" (1993)

I wrote this just before I went to Paris in 1990. It became a metaphor for resolving things that could not be resolved.

"Seven Year Ache" (1981)

This song began as a long poem, three or four pages long, and I distilled it down into the song it became. I wrote it when Rickie Lee Jones' first album was out, and it was really influential for me. I was thinking that I didn't know any country songs about being on the streets, or street life, and I wanted to write one. This was my attempt.

"On The Inside" (1990)

This is the first track on my album Interiors. The whole album was about the difference between what is going on inside, and what you show the world on the outside.

"Rules of Travel" (2003)

I wrote the chorus to this YEARS before the whole song was finished. It became the title song of the album. I still think it is one of the best choruses I've written.

"Dreams Are Not My Home" (2006)

I was in Cambridge, England, playing at the Folk Festival, and my daughter and I climbed to the top of an ancient church, and I looked out over the River Cam and a picture unfolded in my mind, of the river rising, and Chelsea and I flying away. All the images in the song are dream-like, and the chorus is a longing to break free of the dreams.

"House on The Lake" (1980)

John Leventhal and I wrote this song, and it's full of detail about the home my dad and stepmother lived in. It's from the album Black Cadillac. Many of those songs are about loss, but this one is also about what remains--the love and memories.

"The Way We Make A Broken Heart" (1987)

This song is written by the great John Hiatt, one of my favorite songwriters. It was a big hit for me on the country charts in the 90's. It was an innovative record and just such a beautiful song.

"Like Fugitives" (2006)

This was the last song I wrote for my album Black Cadillac, shortly after my mother died. I was angry and sad, and I didn't pull any punches, lyrically.

"Black Cadillac" (2006)

This was the first song I wrote for my album Black Cadillac. It was like a 'postcard from the future'. Everyone started dying after I wrote this.

"She's Got You" (1986)

This song was written by the great songwriter Hank Cochran, and it was made famous by Patsy Cline. I had to get Patsy's voice out of my head to even approach singing this! I finally just asked her to help me. It seemed to work.

Rosanne Cash and Composed links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

The 9513 review
Awaiting the Flood review
BookPage review
Chicago Tribune review
Fort Worth Star-Telegram review
No Depression review
Northshire's Bookstore Blog's review
Scott Holleran review
Washington Post review

Atlanta Journal-Constitution interview with the author
Creative Loafing Atlanta interview with the author
Huffington Post interview with the author
New York Magazine profile of the author
Publishers Weekly interview with the author
Tune In Music City interview with the author
Washington Post profile of the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)

52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists

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