Roseanne Cash told a story in her memoir Composed that inspired Steven Pressfield so much that he included it in his book Turning Pro, about the mindset needed to make a living creating art.
She had a dream one night that she was at a party at Linda Ronstadt’s house, and she walked up to Linda while she was talking to a man named Art. She tried to inject herself into the conversation, but Art looked at her dismissively and said, “We don’t respect dilettantes,” and turned away. The dream cut to the core of the uneasiness Cash had about the way her career was going, and she took her music more seriously from that day.
The story moved me, and when I found Roseanne Cash’s new album, She Remembers Everything, in the vinyl section of Barnes & Noble, it came home with me and has been spending a lot of time on the turntable.
It’s more than 30 years since the dream, but she hasn’t let up. These 10 songs are lovingly crafted from the heart. She wrote all the lyrics and much of the music in collaboration with some great musicians, some I know (Elvis Costello and Kris Kristofferson join her in one memorable jaunt) and others I want to know better (Sam Phillips co-wrote the haunting title song and sings harmony on it).
“The Only Thing Worth Fighting For,” the opening tune has an eerie Dire Straits vibe, and the lyrics speak of a contentious but loving relationship where, well, she remembers everything:
Weren’t we like a battlefield,
locked inside a holy war,
your love and my due diligence,
the only thing worth fighting for?
She celebrates “The Undiscovered Country (between a woman and a man), she wails about the “8 Gods of Harlem” with Costello and Kristofferson, who each contribute a verse, and gently thanks an honest friend who “can pull me up from the Rabbit Hole.”
Each of the 10 tracks has something to contribute to a lovely whole; this is the work of a mature artist who knows who she is and delivers in every song, every note, every turn of phrase. I’m so glad she had that dream, if it motivated her to focus her considerable talents on music this tasty, this deep and this fun to hear.