I have always had a fondness for the best of country music and have always enjoyed making fun of the worst. One thing is true about country music: you get a lot of memoir packed into most of those three-minute songs.

Johnny Cash and Ruth Carter Cash were some of the best. When I heard about Johnny Cash’s daughter Rosanne Cash’s album The List, I blogged about it here. Last night I heard Diane Rehm interview Rosanne, and the broadcast brought tears to my eyes. If you can watch theYouTube below of father and daughter without having your vision fog up a little, you are made of sterner stuff than I am.
I now have to read Rosanne Cash’s new memoir with the perfect name for her life: Composed.

Shirley Showalter


  1. Dnicebear on August 14, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Thank you, Shirley. Sensing potential and it being just out of reach could be a theme/pattern of my life. I’m studying how Roseanne Cash broke out of this mold.

  2. Anonymous on August 14, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Nice piece, Shirley. I agree with your observation of country music as a 3 minute memoir. I’ll have to look up the Diane Rehm show with Rosanne Cash.

    There were two things in the Washington Post you might find of interest – a review of the book by Jonathan Yardley at http://bit.ly/du8o8q and a feature piece on Rosanne at http://bit.ly/9Bu4wc .

    A book that’s definitely on my to read list.

  3. Shirley Showalter on August 15, 2010 at 1:19 am

    Thanks, Duane. I read both these reviews due to your helpful links. They make me even more eager to read Composed. The examples quoted of the poetic prose in this book demonstrate that Rosanne Cash has a talent that should erase any doubt about living in her father’s long shadow. She has emerged to tell her own story! I am sure her story will also cast light on her father’s, which will be a bonus.

  4. shirleyhs on August 15, 2010 at 1:21 am

    Hi, Dnicebear, have we met before? Thanks for the comment. I think Rosanne Cash named a universal theme with this idea of sensing potential. Hope your study of her life helps you with your own. That’s one of the best gifts of the best memoirs!

  5. Dnicebear on August 15, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Hello again Shirley, I commented earlier this summer as Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler, from Oakland, CA, but somehow, this time, the reply gremlins only accepted my reply with my e-mail name.

  6. shirleyhs on August 20, 2010 at 1:17 am

    Ah, Dolores! How nice, so to speak. 🙂 Welcome back.

  7. James on August 25, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    I’m always amazed at the bed fellows country music reveals 🙂 I think Johnny Cash is one of those artists whose voice grew with him- and has continued after he died.
    Great post and clip!

    • shirleyhs on September 2, 2010 at 5:18 pm

      Hi, James. I hope you get to see this comment, since my site was hacked shortly after you wrote these words. I am now reading Composed and find it fascinating. Will review here–so come back again. Thanks for your comment.

  8. Richard A. Kauffman on September 17, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Shirley, have you finished Composed yet? Based on an interview with Rosanne (I don’t think it was the same one you heard) and your comment above, I checked it out of our public library. I didn’t have very high expectations, but I realize that is likely because I’ve not been a great fan of country music, although I’ve grown in an appreciation of roots music, and also because I probably had some stereotypes of the Cash family. But I was pleasantly surprised by Composed. The writing is flat in spots, at other places nearly poetic. But the story she tells is compelling. She is obviously a deeper person than I imagined. And at least from her account of it, she has done better than most at living in the shadow of an iconic father and carving out her own identity and career. Her account of the recording of the September song with her dad is gripping.

  9. shirleyhs on September 17, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Hi, Richard. Funny that you ask. I was working on my review of Composed when I got the opportunity to review City of Tranquil Light under a very strict time deadline. 🙂

    I hope to get my review of this book up today. I will focus on the beauty of a good title and good endings. She nailed both of these.

  10. Richard A. Kauffman on September 18, 2010 at 3:42 am

    I don’t understand why you would allow yourself to be subjected to anyone’s strict deadline!

  11. […] them. Down below are two small words in white: A Memoir. When I first heard this title, I called it perfect. That was before I read the book. Now that I have allowed Rosanne Cash’s story to speak to me, […]

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