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Always Been There: Rosanne Cash, the List, and the Spirit of Southern Music

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In 1973, Rosanne Cash's father gave her a list of 100 songs, many from the Southern tradition, that he felt a young musician had to know. Always Been There tells the inside story of the album that, more than thirty-five years later, resulted from "the list." Based on original interviews conducted in the studio, at home in New York City, and on tour in Europe, Always Been Th In 1973, Rosanne Cash's father gave her a list of 100 songs, many from the Southern tradition, that he felt a young musician had to know. Always Been There tells the inside story of the album that, more than thirty-five years later, resulted from "the list." Based on original interviews conducted in the studio, at home in New York City, and on tour in Europe, Always Been There documents a pivotal episode in Rosanne Cash's long and fascinating career. As she, along with producer and husband John Leventhal, painstakingly reconstructs what songs made "the list" and why, we gain an unmatched understanding of a longer musican continuium that includes the Carter Family and other fabled names of the Southern pantheon and their influence on her music and writing. We also see how Leventhal's talents as an arranger and musician pair with Rosanne's searching vocal performances to make these old songs new again. Always Been There tracks Rosanne Cash's singular and storied career from her early commercial hits with albums like King's Record Shop through her controversial split with Nashville tradition on albums like the mercurial Interiors to the sublime Black Cadillac. It paints an unforgettable portrait of Rosanne confronting music-making in the aftermath of serious brain surgery, her lifelong search for her legacy, and her unique creative partnerships.


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In 1973, Rosanne Cash's father gave her a list of 100 songs, many from the Southern tradition, that he felt a young musician had to know. Always Been There tells the inside story of the album that, more than thirty-five years later, resulted from "the list." Based on original interviews conducted in the studio, at home in New York City, and on tour in Europe, Always Been Th In 1973, Rosanne Cash's father gave her a list of 100 songs, many from the Southern tradition, that he felt a young musician had to know. Always Been There tells the inside story of the album that, more than thirty-five years later, resulted from "the list." Based on original interviews conducted in the studio, at home in New York City, and on tour in Europe, Always Been There documents a pivotal episode in Rosanne Cash's long and fascinating career. As she, along with producer and husband John Leventhal, painstakingly reconstructs what songs made "the list" and why, we gain an unmatched understanding of a longer musican continuium that includes the Carter Family and other fabled names of the Southern pantheon and their influence on her music and writing. We also see how Leventhal's talents as an arranger and musician pair with Rosanne's searching vocal performances to make these old songs new again. Always Been There tracks Rosanne Cash's singular and storied career from her early commercial hits with albums like King's Record Shop through her controversial split with Nashville tradition on albums like the mercurial Interiors to the sublime Black Cadillac. It paints an unforgettable portrait of Rosanne confronting music-making in the aftermath of serious brain surgery, her lifelong search for her legacy, and her unique creative partnerships.

30 review for Always Been There: Rosanne Cash, the List, and the Spirit of Southern Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    3.5 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alex Bledsoe

    The title of this book doesn't really convey its contents or approach. It's ostensibly about "The List" album, based on a list of 100 songs Johnny Cash gave his daughter in 1973. Except that Rosanne can't find the list, so she has to rely on imperfect memory for the 12 tracks she chooses. There's a blow-by-blow chronicle of recording the album, except without any of the guest artists (Springsteen, Elvis Costello, etc.) who evidently added their contributions later. And there's a detailed account The title of this book doesn't really convey its contents or approach. It's ostensibly about "The List" album, based on a list of 100 songs Johnny Cash gave his daughter in 1973. Except that Rosanne can't find the list, so she has to rely on imperfect memory for the 12 tracks she chooses. There's a blow-by-blow chronicle of recording the album, except without any of the guest artists (Springsteen, Elvis Costello, etc.) who evidently added their contributions later. And there's a detailed account of a brief European tour, which really adds nothing to the topics mentioned in the title. However, it's still interesting for the interviews with Ms. Cash. She's always seemed a thoughtful and self-aware person, and it really comes through here as she analyzes her father's influence, their relationship and her own considerable body of work. I'd recommend the book mainly for those parts.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carly Thompson

    A rather fawning account of the making of Rosanne Cash's latest album, The List. The author spent considerable time interviewing his subject and was given nearly total access to the recording of the album and Cash's brief European tour in early 2009. I really enjoyed The List and Black Cadillac and it was interesting to get a look at Rosanne Cash's creative process. She seems very perceptive and the sections which focus on interviews with her about her life and career were the strongest part of A rather fawning account of the making of Rosanne Cash's latest album, The List. The author spent considerable time interviewing his subject and was given nearly total access to the recording of the album and Cash's brief European tour in early 2009. I really enjoyed The List and Black Cadillac and it was interesting to get a look at Rosanne Cash's creative process. She seems very perceptive and the sections which focus on interviews with her about her life and career were the strongest part of the book. Unfortunately the author's prose style and constant insertion of himself into the narrative really annoyed me. At times he seems like a man totally out of step with current popular culture as when we writes about teenagers ripping music from videogames and bemoans that the have "found another way to circumnavigate the recording industry--another way, to my way of thinking, not to buy a Rosanne Cash album." His obvious crush on Rosanne Cash also detracted from the book. I found Rosanne Cash's personal and professional journey interesting and will definitely add her upcoming memoir to my reading list.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karin

    This was mainly boring and would be to anyone who isn't either a fan of Roseanne Cash or of this list her dad gave her. It turns out, and this really isn't much of a spoiler, that Roseanne wasn't able to find the list because she hid it years before in some obscure place, but it was a list of songs her dad gave her that he said she should know if she was serious about Country Music. Some of this was interesting, and she is clearly very bright, well read and good with words because she has had es This was mainly boring and would be to anyone who isn't either a fan of Roseanne Cash or of this list her dad gave her. It turns out, and this really isn't much of a spoiler, that Roseanne wasn't able to find the list because she hid it years before in some obscure place, but it was a list of songs her dad gave her that he said she should know if she was serious about Country Music. Some of this was interesting, and she is clearly very bright, well read and good with words because she has had essays and short stories published in prestigious periodicals and has also written books, but most of the part about her search for the list and the recording of songs she thinks would have been on the list is as dry as dust. What it did do is to get me to listen to her on Youtube, but just a couple of country songs--she left country music to do her own thing which has reduced her career--and I will say that she has a good voice, as does her singer-daughter.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Vickie Kulp

    One of the most boring books I've read. Most of book was about Rosanne trying to find a piece of paper that her father Johnny Cash had written a "list" of songs on. She was going to make a recording (album) from the "list". Well she never found the "list". The main reason I kept reading the book was I hoped the "list" would be found. Besides her searching for the "list", the book also chronicled her concert tours in Europe. That was boring to me too. One of the most boring books I've read. Most of book was about Rosanne trying to find a piece of paper that her father Johnny Cash had written a "list" of songs on. She was going to make a recording (album) from the "list". Well she never found the "list". The main reason I kept reading the book was I hoped the "list" would be found. Besides her searching for the "list", the book also chronicled her concert tours in Europe. That was boring to me too.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth K.

    And then, my head exploded. This book and I did not get off to a very good start. In the first paragraph, the author writes about Rosanne Cash's brain surgery, letting us know that her family, friends, and admirers were concerned because "on the heels of her father's death only four years earlier, the prospect of living without his most legitimate artistic heir ... seemed unbearable." Because I'm sure her husband and four children and other family members were so preoccupied about the musical le And then, my head exploded. This book and I did not get off to a very good start. In the first paragraph, the author writes about Rosanne Cash's brain surgery, letting us know that her family, friends, and admirers were concerned because "on the heels of her father's death only four years earlier, the prospect of living without his most legitimate artistic heir ... seemed unbearable." Because I'm sure her husband and four children and other family members were so preoccupied about the musical legacy of Johnny Cash. A few pages later, the author wags his eyebrows knowingly when he points out that while Rosanne wished to establish herself as an artist separate from her father, she kept her name when she got married. Come ON, it's her OWN NAME. It's her name! No has to justify or defend being called by one's OWN NAME. (Likewise, no one has to justify or defend having a new own name, either.) So anyway, this book is about the making of the latest Rosanne Cash album, called The List, which is based on a list of significant country songs that her father wrote and gave to her in 1973. But, the twist is, she lost the actual piece of paper with the actual list on it, so this is a process of recreating the list based on her knowledge of country music and her father. The selections, as well as discussions of songs that didn't make the cut, are interesting, and I was hoping there would be more discussion in the book about the history and influence of that music. On the plus side, it was a great way to get ideas for things to listen to. There is also a lot of coverage on the actual creation of some of the recordings, which was less interesting to me because I'm not that musical of a person myself, and books about music often leave me a little cold. Do people write songs about reading? One burning question I still have, though, is how is it possible that there aren't songs that she, or someone, remembers for sure as being on the list -- the way this book tells it, they are starting consideration for each song like it's a complete mystery. MAYBE it was on the list, MAYBE it was NOT on the list ... but she had the list for almost 30 years before she lost it, and if I'm understanding it correctly, used it to build set lists for her own tours. So really, there isn't ONE (or you know, two) songs that you remember being on there? I'd think at least one would stand out, maybe because she really liked it, or because she didn't care for it, or something. Despite getting tired quickly of the author and his self-appointed therapist role, this was a fairly interesting (and quick) read for fans of Rosanne Cash.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Phil Doherty

    I must confess that I picked this book up at a LIFELINE Book Sale for $4 (the Dymocks Price Sticker showed $45). The book was a 1st Edition 2009 Hardback in pristine condition. It looked like it had never been read. My introduction above is meant to explain why I bought this book. I had never heard of Rosanne Cash but assumed, mainly correctly, that she was a part of the very large CASH family performers. However, Rosanne turned out to be a very different story to the one I expected. Firstly, she wa I must confess that I picked this book up at a LIFELINE Book Sale for $4 (the Dymocks Price Sticker showed $45). The book was a 1st Edition 2009 Hardback in pristine condition. It looked like it had never been read. My introduction above is meant to explain why I bought this book. I had never heard of Rosanne Cash but assumed, mainly correctly, that she was a part of the very large CASH family performers. However, Rosanne turned out to be a very different story to the one I expected. Firstly, she was part of Johnny Cash’s family from his first marriage to Vivian Liberto. Rosanne was 11 when her parents divorced, and so was not part of Carter Clan. Johnny married June Carter not long after divorcing his 1st wife. The book is not a classic biography as such. It centres around a list of songs that Johnny Cash gave to Rosanne after she started performing in her own right. The list contained Johnny Cash’s “100 songs that every Country performer should know”. Now Rosanne was living in California and was not part of the Nashville scene, but after her father passed away, she set about trying to find this list and choose an album’s worth of songs from this list, for reasons explained in the book. Her relationship with her father was strained at times, but The List became a project to honour her father and to find peace in her own identity. As it turns out, the “List” could not be found, but she remembered enough of the songs she liked from it, and went about recording a number of song demos to see what came up trumps. The final album, entitled “The List” contained 12 very solid tracks. A very interesting read and I came away liking this tough lady with the big voice. The story highlights her battles with a serious health problem, and covers the breakdown of her 1st marriage and her current marriage to her guitarist and producer John Leventhal. The author falls into a common trap I find with (especially) music biographies in that he becomes part of the story instead of the narrator. However, the story is so strong that I can ignore where the author “trespasses”, and I would recommend this book to fans of this music genre. As a postscript, I bought the album and to my delight, it is a ripper. Rosanne Cash has a voice I could listen to all day, and I intend going through her back catalogue to find what other gems I may have missed out on all these years.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    This book was a disappointment. I picked it up because I love Rosanne Cash's The List (supposedly based on a list of 100 standards her father Johnny Cash said she needed to know if she was going to have a career in music) and I thought it would offer some insight into the making of the record. I believe the author thinks he achieves this aim, but he doesn't. He observed a few recording sessions, he followed her on a brief (maybe five shows) European "tour", and he interviewed her several times, This book was a disappointment. I picked it up because I love Rosanne Cash's The List (supposedly based on a list of 100 standards her father Johnny Cash said she needed to know if she was going to have a career in music) and I thought it would offer some insight into the making of the record. I believe the author thinks he achieves this aim, but he doesn't. He observed a few recording sessions, he followed her on a brief (maybe five shows) European "tour", and he interviewed her several times, both on the road and at her home. He quotes at length from their interviews, but the quotes are very loose, rambling, musing. The don't offer any clarity. He doesn't speak to anyone else involved in the making of the record, not Rosanne's producer-husband John Leventhal or any of the other musicians who perform or sing on the tracks. He doesn't ask any other American music experts about any of the songs or ask what might be on their personal lists. He never discusses the songs that were eventually chosen for the record. He doesn't set them in the context of American music or present their musical genealogy (who wrote them, who performed them, etc.) despite promising that this book will be about the "Spirit of Southern Music". He also doesn't set Rosanne's own life in any context. If you don't already know the major details of her life and career, I'm not sure you'll be able to follow the biographical details he does include. Perhaps most disappointing of all, there is some suggestion that the mythological list doesn't even exist. He structures the book loosely around Rosanne's search, among books and papers and scrapbooks overflowing her Manhattan home, for the actual handwritten list from her father. She never finds it. Hmmm? I'm not sure how or why this books got published. I would love to read the book the title promises. This wasn't it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    I first heard about "The List" on NPR at some point and knew this was something I wanted to know more about. But at that point in time, I was mostly interested in the album not a book about the album. To be honest, I still haven't heard the actual music, but I am on hold for it at our library. I found the book to be very interesting. I don't normally read celebrity biographies, but this is not a tell-all book. Much of Roseanne Cash's life is alluded to, but I don't know every detail of her career I first heard about "The List" on NPR at some point and knew this was something I wanted to know more about. But at that point in time, I was mostly interested in the album not a book about the album. To be honest, I still haven't heard the actual music, but I am on hold for it at our library. I found the book to be very interesting. I don't normally read celebrity biographies, but this is not a tell-all book. Much of Roseanne Cash's life is alluded to, but I don't know every detail of her career. What I now know is about the recording of the album, The List. And about the recording industry as of 2009. This information isn't going to do me much good in my day to day life, but I like learning about new things. So for that, I am grateful to the author. My only concern is that if you ask me in six months what this book is about, I may not be able to tell you. I enjoyed it while it lasted, but I don't expect much impact over time.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Once again in recent history, this book wasn't about what I expected it to be. I thought it would be a history of each song on the album 'The List'. While in some cases a brief recording history is offered, in some cases it's pretty much skimmed over. It is a biography of Cash, emphasizing what the songs mean to her and why they were chosen for the album, often in reaction to events or circumstances from her own life. The book grew on me - Streissguth is a good writer, and he knows his American m Once again in recent history, this book wasn't about what I expected it to be. I thought it would be a history of each song on the album 'The List'. While in some cases a brief recording history is offered, in some cases it's pretty much skimmed over. It is a biography of Cash, emphasizing what the songs mean to her and why they were chosen for the album, often in reaction to events or circumstances from her own life. The book grew on me - Streissguth is a good writer, and he knows his American music. And this gave some insight into Cash that I found lacking in her actual biography. This is an amazing album, and it was interesting for me to get the history behind it. Worth checking out if you're a fan of Cash or just country music; if not, then it's probably not worth your time.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    Despite Mr Streissguth's infatuation with his subject matter (and the fact that I believe Ms Cash probably had the list under her pillow the whole time) I really liked this book. It made me think about the importance of one's lineage and the responsibility we each have in preserving and passing it down to future generations. Of course it just so happens Rosanne comes from a particularly impressive pedigree. If ever there was a concept album to be made it is "The List" and I admire that she follo Despite Mr Streissguth's infatuation with his subject matter (and the fact that I believe Ms Cash probably had the list under her pillow the whole time) I really liked this book. It made me think about the importance of one's lineage and the responsibility we each have in preserving and passing it down to future generations. Of course it just so happens Rosanne comes from a particularly impressive pedigree. If ever there was a concept album to be made it is "The List" and I admire that she followed through with it despite her daddy and Nashville issues. It was really interesting to see the inner workings of the creative process that brought it to fruition too.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    I enjoyed this book. Before reading Always Been There, I didn't know that much about Roseanne Cash or her music. But as a fan of Johnny Cash I was curious so I read the book. Then I listened to one of her CDs. Now I am a fan of Roseanne Cash and I understand her a bit better. One thing I got out of this book is that she is her own person and not a junior version of her famous Dad. The author (who did a great biography of Johnny Cash)did a good job of writing but his photos were a bit lacking. Gi I enjoyed this book. Before reading Always Been There, I didn't know that much about Roseanne Cash or her music. But as a fan of Johnny Cash I was curious so I read the book. Then I listened to one of her CDs. Now I am a fan of Roseanne Cash and I understand her a bit better. One thing I got out of this book is that she is her own person and not a junior version of her famous Dad. The author (who did a great biography of Johnny Cash)did a good job of writing but his photos were a bit lacking. Give it a read and see what you think.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Noel

    As with others who have reviewed this book on goodreads... I could not 'finish' this book. I trudged through it until I hit the middle. I skimmed the rest, only stopping to read paragraphs of interest to me. The book is bogged down with information most people will not find compelling. Truly the only engaging parts of the book were where the author revealed the relationship of Rosanne to her father, Johnny Cash, to June Carter Cash, and to June's family... And how those relationships inspired Th As with others who have reviewed this book on goodreads... I could not 'finish' this book. I trudged through it until I hit the middle. I skimmed the rest, only stopping to read paragraphs of interest to me. The book is bogged down with information most people will not find compelling. Truly the only engaging parts of the book were where the author revealed the relationship of Rosanne to her father, Johnny Cash, to June Carter Cash, and to June's family... And how those relationships inspired The List. Those sections would have made a good magazine article.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    It just did not live up to what I thought it should. In fact, I didn't finish it - I got bored. I'm not sure "the list" was even revealed seeing as Roseanne couldn't even find it. So much written on not being able to find it - a duck is a duck no matter how many different aspects you try to describe it. "The list" is lost. Guessing does not make a Johnny Cash list. In all, I was disappointed. Did I miss anything by not finishing it? It just did not live up to what I thought it should. In fact, I didn't finish it - I got bored. I'm not sure "the list" was even revealed seeing as Roseanne couldn't even find it. So much written on not being able to find it - a duck is a duck no matter how many different aspects you try to describe it. "The list" is lost. Guessing does not make a Johnny Cash list. In all, I was disappointed. Did I miss anything by not finishing it?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy Jones

    What a great read. Easy to digest but with tremendous depth. Read it in 2 sittings. Covers the making of an album, the struggle of dealing with the legacy of a famous father, the impact of drug addiction on family, love, loss, passion for music and an overall independence of spirit. I don't even really know Rosanne Cash's music but that didn't matter at all. This book really spoke to me What a great read. Easy to digest but with tremendous depth. Read it in 2 sittings. Covers the making of an album, the struggle of dealing with the legacy of a famous father, the impact of drug addiction on family, love, loss, passion for music and an overall independence of spirit. I don't even really know Rosanne Cash's music but that didn't matter at all. This book really spoke to me

  16. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    Recommended for Rosanne Cash fans, or readers interested in singer-songwriters. A great companion to the Cash CD “The List”. For fans this book merits a higher evaluation. The writing style seems for the most part to be transcription of recorded conversations or interview notes.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carolynn

    This was an "ok" read, but doesn't compare with her own memoir. This was an "ok" read, but doesn't compare with her own memoir.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    Fascinating material completely ruined by an author who believes, falsely, that he's as important to the story he's telling as Rosanne Cash. Fascinating material completely ruined by an author who believes, falsely, that he's as important to the story he's telling as Rosanne Cash.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rich

    An interesting book on the creative process that went into the recording of Rosanne Cash's album, The List. An interesting book on the creative process that went into the recording of Rosanne Cash's album, The List.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Donohue

    Definitely buy the album to listen to during and after you read it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Be it CD, DVD, or book, if it has anything to do with Rosanne Cash, I'm there. Be it CD, DVD, or book, if it has anything to do with Rosanne Cash, I'm there.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    Very interesting for fans of Rosanne Cash- detailed account of her album and tour based on a list of songs given to her by her father

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

    Rosanne writes about her music, her father and their relationship throughout her life and how a list of songs still connects her to him. Great biography.

  24. 4 out of 5

    SouthWestZippy

    I made it to page 74. Way over my head on what was going on. Started off with a sad but good story and then lost me.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Couldn't finish it. The writing was incredibly dull and tedious, I stopped caring when I had to read about Roseanne's husband getting egg salad instead of eggplant. Couldn't finish it. The writing was incredibly dull and tedious, I stopped caring when I had to read about Roseanne's husband getting egg salad instead of eggplant.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Hartz

  28. 4 out of 5

    John

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  30. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Browning

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