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Always Been There: Roseanne Cash, ""The List"" and the Spirit of Southern Music [Hardcover]

Michael Streissguth

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Book Description

5 Nov 2009
This work presents the candid story behind the making of Rosanne Cash's next album, "The List", which is based on a list of 100 essential country songs compiled by her father, Johnny Cash. In 1973, Johnny Cash scribbled down a list of 100 essential country songs for his daughter Rosanne Cash to learn. Her next album, "The List", will be inspired by those 100 songs, essential, timeless tunes like "Willow Weep for Me", "Miss the Mississippi", "She's Got You", "Silver Wings", "Sweet Memories", "Motherless Children", "The Long Black Veil", and "Big River". Michael Streissguth, author of the acclaimed "Johnny Cash: The Biography" will, in "The List", offer the candid, behind-the-scenes story of the making of the album (also called "The List"), following Rosanne Cash to the studio and on tour, conveying generous portions of her characteristically pithy and articulate thoughts on her oft-troubled yet loving relationship with her famous father, the origins of these extraordinary songs and how they relate to her family as well as the genre of country music, her recovery from recent brain surgery, and reflections on her life and music.

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"(A)n affectionate portrait of an artist in search of her roots."
--The Irish Times, December 7th, 2009

"Always Been There: Rosanne Cash, The List, and the Spirit of Southern Music by Johnny Cash's biographer Michael Streissguth (Da Capo Press, £13.99) elegantly tells the story of how, 35 years after her father gave her a list of "100 songs she ought to know", Roseanne Cash whittled it down to an album's worth of material as an exercise in "song preservation".
--The Independent on Sunday,Best Music Books 2009, December 13th, 2009

About the Author

Michael Streissguth is the editor of Ring of Fire: The Johnny Cash Reader. His work has appeared in Mojo, the Journal of Country Music, and many other publications. Most recently, he wrote the liner notes to the deluxe box set CD reissue of Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison. He is an associate professor in the English Department of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, where he lives with his wife and children.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.1 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Always Been There Reveals List Ain't There No Mo' 21 Mar 2011
By Tom - Published on
While in the middle of reading Rosanne Cash's "Composed: A Memoir" I saw Michael Streissguth's "Always Been There" at the library and extended my visit with the singer-songwriter a bit longer.

"Always Been There" is an enjoyable account of the making of "The List," Cash's latest album. Streissguth makes no bones about being an enthusiastic fan and this comes across clearly throughout the book. Whereas Cash abstains from any sentimentality in her memoir, Streissguth has no such reservations.

The book is an interesting look at the creative side of the recording process from the artist's perspective. It's also an important account of Rosanne's decision to reconnect with her musical roots.

However, I am very disappointed in regards to the alleged inspiration behind the album. American icon, Johnny Cash, presented his daughter with a list of 100 essential country songs when she was 18. On her web page, Rosanne states she revealed the existence of this list to audiences while touring for her "Black Cadillac" album. The enthusiastic response inspired her to create the album. While she leads the readers of her memoir and web page to believe she has possession of the list, Streissguth reveals throughout "Always Been There" that it is, in fact, lost and Rosanne has no definite knowledge of its contents. Come to find out, Johnny Cash's lost list served only as inspiration for Rosanne's choices of what songs SHE THOUGHT her father would have included. Surprise! This all smacks of some serious disingenuousness. I'm going back and dropping my review of Cash's memoir from 4-stars to 3.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Perfect, But It's Still A Great Book About Rosanne, "The List", and the "Spirit" of Southern Music!!!! 17 Oct 2009
By Gary Covington - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a good book, telling the story that lead up to the making of Rosanne's most recent album release - "The List". Plus, it contains a very candid story about Rosanne's professional & personal life. In 1973, when Rosanne was 17, her father (Johnny Cash), gave Rosanne a 'list' of 100 songs, mainly from "southern traditional songs", that he felt a young musician had to know. Apparently the "list" her father gave her got lost, and Rosanne was not able to find it. The book does not contain this list. So, when Rosanne decided to start working on her concept album "The List", she had to resort to memory of the list, her father had given her. She knew it ended with songs from 1973, and she knew it contained 100 songs.

So, as best as she could remember, the songs on the list, must have came from the Appalachian region, folk songs, gospel songs, country songs, & even delta blues. It must have included songs from artists such as Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family, Lefty Frezell, Sister Rosetta Thorpe, Don Gibson, Hank Williams, Porter Wagoner, Hank Snow, Willie Nelson and others. So, basically she and her husband & producer, John Leventhal sort of reconstruted the list her father had given her.

It was the "Spirit" of the list that really mattered.

The first Chapter covers Rosanne's Brain Surgery, and how she had to adjust afterwards. This book covers both Rosanne's professional life along with her adult personal life. When Rosanne was a young adult, she spent a lot of time in Europe, and she even lived in Germany for a while. The book tells the story of Rosanne's professional career, and how she has to "jugggle" her tours, recording, & etc. to make time to spend with her children. She really cares deeply for her children. Rosanne does not tour very much. When Rosanne was living in Europe, her father, Johnny wanted her to come back home. She tried to settle into Nashville, but she just didn't feel like that was the right place for her. She wanted to move to New York, and her dad, Johnny encouraged her to do that, if that was what she wanted to do. Rosanne is just not your typical Country Music Star. However, the main focus of the book is about putting together her new album "The List".

This book explains Roanne's artistic, creative process, along with her husband & producer's input. Her husband is John Leventhal, he is both her husband and her producer. Rosanne considers many things in the process of putting together her album "The List". She thinks about her own legacy, and her own identity, but she also enjoys being connected to her famous father Johnny Cash and his legacy. When she performs before a live audience, she performs some of her Dad's songs, but there are some of his songs that she just won't perform. She does not perform "Walk the Line", but she has performed "I still miss someone". The "List" project is her way of "reconnecting" with her father. She is definitely proud of her father, and proud of the Cash name.

Rosanne admits that Southern Music has had a great influence on her creativity, her music, and her writing. Plus, she wants to continue the legacy of the "Spirit" of Southern Music. She's like a link in a chain, she's connected to fathers music and his "list" from the past, and she also wants to pass the tradition on to future generations.

The book covers Rosanne's process & struggles of narrowing down the "list" from 100 songs to 12 songs for her new album, "The List". Also, Rosanne has struggles with the "list", her daddy gave her in 1973. She ponders about what songs from that list should go on her new album "The List". She considers things such as "do the songs have to stop at 1973"? Should the exact song from the list be selected, or can an "up-dated" song containing the "spirit" of the song in the list be included?. She considers can a song not even on the list, be included in her new album?. For example, she decided to include "Motherless Children", even though it did not meet her criteria, for the songs that must have been included in the list her father had given her.

She did get to spend a lot of time with her father, around the time of June's death, and up until her father died. The picture on the cover was taken just 2 months before her Dad's death. Rosanne would sing Carter Family Songs to her Dad.

Page 203 of the book concludes with "The List". A list of the final 12 songs selected for her new album.

The album "The List" includes the following songs:
1. Miss the Mississippi and You (An old Jimmy Rodgers song)
2. Motherless Children
3. Sea of Heartbreak (Features Bruce Springsteen)
4. Take These Chains From My Heart
5. I'm Movin' on
6. Heartaches by the Number (Features Elvis Costello)
7. 500 miles
8. Long Black Veil (Features Jeff Tweedy of Wilco)
9. She's Got You
10.Girl From the North Country
11.Silver Wings (Features Rufus Wainwright)
12.Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow (an old Carter Family Song)

This is a great, easy to read, 12 chapter book, with over 60 photographs and covering 223 pages including the index. The author of the book is Michael Streissguth. He authored the book "Johnny Cash: The Biography", and other books.

Overall, this is a great book, and I highly recommend it. Thanks, and May God Bless!!!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare intimate look... 29 Aug 2010
By John Julian - Published on
I really got into this book. It was kind of neat to see all the thought, decisions and ideas that went into creating this collection of music. Where else would you get this intimate a look at the process involved in this project. I really liked the insight into not only how the decisions were made for the list music to be used, but how the music impacted and/or had meaning to Roseanne's life. It made for a great story that I did not expect to find.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars my list about The List 31 Dec 2009
By Keith Calmes - Published on
1. I enjoyed learning about Rosanne Cash. She comes off as part zen-master (not impacted by her potentially jarring surroundings), part feminist hero, and the present and future of country music. She is a New Yorker, for God's sake. Who knew that?!?
2. Readers should know going into this that Rosanne Cash LOST the list that her father had given her! It remains lost at the close of the book. They use this as some sort of metaphor, but I find it absurd and frustrating.
3. The author is NOT a musician. One tale in the book tells of the record producer getting frustrated with the author's questions when he assumes that the work in the studio would be completed by the record executives. Of course, I think, the record company is sent the finished product. They merely are responsible for distribution and marketing. As a musician, the author's non-musician ways permeate this book, as does his fanhood of Ms. Cash. Being a fan may be necessary for a work such as this, but it may also get in the way of treating the subject objectively.
4. This book is easy to read. I read most of it in one extended sitting; it is enjoyable.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book in lieu of a film 16 Dec 2009
By Bradley F. Smith - Published on
This started out as a film project. But that got squashed due to budget problems. Instead, the author wrote a book about what the film would have covered: the making of an album. As such, it does seem a bit filler-ish, at times. I haven't heard the recent album that resulted: "The List." But I'll be looking it up. Rosanne Cash has a great life story, and this book does depict some of her conflicted feelings about her famous father, who gave her the list as a young girl. It's worth reading if you're a Rosanne Cash fan.
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