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“Where’s the madness, Rose?”

April 7th, 2010 No comments

It’s easy to forget how good music can be until you hear it live. Last night, an unusually warm April night, I heard something unforgettable: Rosanne Cash performing at the New College Theatre. She sang and played, talked about being an artist and a mom, and took questions. The event was presented by OFA’s Learning From Performers and Harvard College American Music Association.

“I became a songwriter at 18 and spent the first 4 years writing bad songs,” Cash said.  Then, one of her teachers listened to her songs, said they were good but also asked: “Where’s the madness, Rose?” It taught her to get to telling the story. For her there is an urgency to tell stories and a love of language that keeps pushing her on.

Cash went on the road her father Johnny Cash when she was 18. Because she knew only rock music, he made her a list of the 100 most important country songs. “A template for excellence,” she said. Her most recent album “The List” covers a dozen songs from that list.

Cash spoke of a mentor who told her: “God tells us different things and hopes we talk to each other.” And this is why I am writing this piece.

The video doesn’t capture the beauty and power of her performance – you should see her live. But if you can’t, here are three songs: “Girl from the North Country” written by Bob Dylan; “Bury Me under the Weeping Willow” written by the Carter Family; and “Seven Year Ache” written by Rosanne Cash.

Also: Crimson Article