Grammy winner, singer and songwriter, Rosanne Cash, daughter of rebel country legend Johnny Cash, will stop in Colorado on her current tour, promoting her album Rules of Travel. Cash boasts nearly a dozen albums over her 20-year career, 11 No. 1 singles, and considerable praise for her musicianship and performance.
Cash is joined on Rules of Travel by Sheryl Crow, Steve Earle, Marc Cohn, Jacob Dylan and her father, Johnny Cash (shortly before his death last September). "September When it Comes," a duet with her father, marks a milestone, as the two scarcely ever sung together; Rosanne desired to mold her image on her own rather than play on her dad's fame.
The album was nearly abandoned when, shortly after beginning work on Rules with her husband and producer, John Leventhal, Cash lost her voice. Throat polyps held her talent captive for two and a half years, during which depression set in. The time allowed Cash a unique glimpse into her life. Introspection and wrestling with fears eventually gave way to a new confidence when her voice finally returned. Rules of Travel is a solid testament to that renewed energy.
The Indy caught up with Cash recently at her home in New York City.
Indy: All said and done, Rules of Travel took how long from writing the first song, waiting for your voice to return, and now touring?
Cash: I'd say about six or seven years. During the time while my voice was lost, I took a long break. It didn't feel like working straight through. It was broken up, but yes, definitely a long time.
Indy: When describing the song "Three Steps Down," you mention being "sick of your own thoughts." As a writer of children's books, short stories and songs, do you often hit walls of being tired of your own thoughts?
Cash: Sometimes. I went through a difficult period before this last record. I needed someone else's tone to get me started, then [I needed] to see what else I could find from there.
Indy: What do you do when you get stuck?
Cash: I go to great literature and find out why it works. I read the classics. That never fails to inspire.
Indy: What's it like to work with lyrics written by others?
Cash: You know, I get to become a character actress and go inside the idea as a character. I get to portray a mood that I didn't create myself and find the nuances.
Indy: I'm interested in the theme of home on Rules of Travel. You were quoted as saying that "All travels lead home." Is this always true?
Cash: I hope it is true in the larger sense of home. But some people do get lost completely. They go farther from the self and their loved ones. But travels do lead home for a lot of us.
Indy: On the themes of mortality, rebirth and acceptance, especially the duet with your father, many of these themes were played out in your own life -- most recently by losing your voice, and then with the passing of your father. I get the sense that a peace has been made.
Cash: Absolutely. I'm not a saint; I'm not inhuman. I have a sense of magnanimity about things, about Dad belonging to the wider world. But when others intruded on my grief insensitively in the last year, I had real resentment. I didn't want to share him at that moment.
Indy: You are very outspoken and have openly opposed the war in Iraq, urging people on your Web site to go see Fahrenheit 911. Have you received any notable backlash -- any radio stations treating you like one of the Dixie Chicks?
Cash: The radio doesn't play me anyway; why should I care? I'm not new, why should I care? If I cared about losing 1,000 record sales, I should just quit. I talk about my convictions on my Web site; I get a lot of hate mail. I did a press conference with David Byrne and some others and got vicious attacks after that. I received angry letters saying things like I should just go sleep with Saddam.
Some people are so angry and filled with hate and need to direct it somewhere.
It's painful to be misunderstood. No one who disagreed ever said why; they just name-call. It's not even constructive; there's no dialogue there, which I would have welcomed. I don't feel that I have to preach during concerts, but I do like to play [Bob] Dylan's "License to Kill."
Indy: Is the picture on the postcard on the inside cover of the album you and your father?
Cash: Yes -- good eye. That's me on Dad's lap. I was 1 year old.
-- Matthew Schniper
Rosanne Cash with Jim Lauderdale
Boulder Theater, Boulder
Wednesday, Aug. 18, 8 p. m.
$24 general admission, $32 reserved seating, all ages
Call 303/786-7030 or go online to www.bouldertheater.com.