When Rosanne Cash’s album The List is released on Tuesday, it will unveil only a portion of a much larger treasure.
When she was a teenager, Rosanne went on tour with her father, Country Music Hall of Fame member Johnny Cash, and he wrote out a list of the 100 most important country songs for her to learn if she intended to become an artist.
A dozen of those songs — including the Patsy Cline classic “She’s Got You,” Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On” and Jimmie Rodgers’ “Miss The Mississippi And You” — are included on The List. People have offered to pay to see the other titles, though thus far, she’s kept the remainder as a secret between herself and her late father.
“I like having it as my own,” she told the Associated Press. “It’s like a martial arts secret.”
Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy joins her in the album on a cover of Lefty Frizzell’s “The Long Black Veil,” Rufus Wainwright teams up with Rosanne on Merle Haggard’s “Silver Wings,” Elvis Costello adds his voice to Ray Price’s “Heartaches By The Number,” and Bruce Springsteen appears on the first single, a remake of Don Gibson’s “Sea Of Heartbreak.”
Since Johnny never updated the list for Rosanne, every song was released prior to 1973. To newer country fans, it works much like Willie Nelson’s Stardust album did, exposing them to classic songs they might not otherwise have heard.
“Can you imagine America without this music?” she said. “It’s who we are, culturally. It’s as important as the Civil War, these songs. Personally, I would hate to see them become something you just visit at a museum. I think they are living and breathing and part of our cultural legacy.”
Rosanne performs Wednesday on “The Late Show With David Letterman.”