COMPOSED — Rosanne Cash A memoir + reflections from a singular life
She was the punk/pop-tinged princess of country royalty, and all she wanted to do was find her place in the world. An almost withdrawn child of a legend at his wildest, Rosanne Cash grew up distrusting fame, drawn to writing and always seeking to comprehend what was around her.
That the adults in her world were Kris Kristofferson, June Carter, Waylon Jennings, Tammy Wynette and plethora creative types – Randy Scruggs, Grammy-winning son of equally legendary Earl Scruggs was an early major crush – opened windows in her imagination most people wouldn’t think to look through. That she was able to carve out a place for herself in songs, when so children of the famous many fail, is a testament to the purity of her quest to make music that mattered.
Composed, Cash’s just released memoir, reflects upon all that – and does so not in a name-drop, bold-faced catalogue of where she went and what she ate, but more in loving recollections of the times, what they meant and the details she’s carried in her heart over the years. This loosely ordered trip through the singer/songwriter who redefined what country could be throughout the 80s is not a history book in any way, but more often reveals her doubts and fears, offering more a portrait of a modern woman seeking to find the sweetness in what she’s lived, explore her creativity and come to terms with the journey as its unfolded.
Along the way, she has been “difficult” in the quest to protect her music, resented the fame that took her father, undermined in some ways her own life and perhaps undermined her first marriage to producer/songwriter/artist Rodney Crowell. She faced brain surgery with humor and the slow flickering of her father’s life with a grace and courage – as well as mourning – that can inspire many.
She reflects on knowing when the perfect love arrived, and the disarray that caused with a strength tempered with resolve.Grammy-winning producer Jon Laventhal was not what she was expecting to find, but she had the courage to trust her heart – and in that, she found the life she’d been waiting for.
Interwoven throughout are thoughts about the creative process, lessons learned, memories held, but this is not a book about how she wrote or where they recorded – beyond how it reflected the life she was living. “Seven Year Ache,” the song that broke the pop culture surface for her, is barely mentioned, and later albums Black Cadillac and The List – the former a song cycle about losing June Carter Cash, Johnny Cash, half sister Rosie Nix and mother Vivian LIberto and the latter culled from a list of the Essential Country Songs her father had given her as a teenager – are part of the passage, not destinations in her book.
What emerges is a sense of Rosanne Cash as a person, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a creative person who finds life inspiring. Her consideration of the stepmother from the perspective of having one, being one and her stepdaughter becoming one is tenderly insightful – as is her remembrance of her father passing.
Present for so many amazing moments, she could bog us down in the minutiae of a well-lived life. Instead she gives the reader wings and lets them take in her life from a vantage point of clarity and lightness. A well-turned book that mirrors the woman writing it.
— Holly Gleason