Rosanne Cash, still composed

After running down a remarkable roster of recent achievements, alt-country queen Rosanne Cash catches herself, stifles her enthusiasm and says, “Whoa — I must seem like the biggest dilettante in the world.”

But the lady has been busy. Her last all-covers effort, “The List” — inspired by a list of 100 country and western classics her late father Johnny Cash insisted she learn when she was drifting too far into rock back in the early 1970s — won Album of the Year at the Americana Awards, where she also presented her friend John Mellencamp with a Lifetime Achievement trophy.Cash — who plays the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival on Sunday — is already planning a second volume of “The List.”

But the dozen chestnuts she’s gathered on this set would’ve made the Man in Black proud, like the Jeff Tweedy-assisted “Long Black Veil,” “Silver Wings” with Rufus Wainwright, a duet with Bruce Springsteen on “Sea of Heartbreak,” and the Elvis Costello-backed “Heartaches by the Number.”

Costello figures into another prospective project as well, a collaboration with Kris Kristofferson that’s already begun with one recording, “April 5th.”

Cash just played the part of the mother in Mellencamp and Stephen King’s upcoming T Bone Burnett-produced retro-radio-play/CD, “The Ghost Brothers of Darkland Country.”

“Next up is this project with Billy Bragg and Joe Henry — we’re actually making a record together,” she says. “It took me months and months to get my label EMI to give me permission, but they just did. So we’ll be writing and singing together as a trio, and Joe will produce.”

Last, but not least is “Composed,” the moonlighting author’s witty, sometimes stark, memoir, which details the dark reason behind her sudden flurry of activity: After countless debilitating migraines, she was diagnosed with a rare but deadly condition that required immediate brain surgery in 2007.

“But my gallows humor got me through it,” says Cash, who horrified her family by singing “If I Only Had a Brain” on the way to the operating room.

Depression crept in during the first painful year of recovery. “But then I started thinking ‘What do I really want to complete?’ And one thing was my book, and the other was ‘The List,’” says Cash, 55. “Getting a hard look at my own mortality certainly focused my thoughts, and everything has taken on an urgency and a sweetness at the same time.”

But Cash remains upbeat. “My life has changed,” she says. “I hear things differently, and I’m not totally pain-free — I still get crushed by real bad headaches if there’s a storm coming. But I feel really lucky. I had something that they could fix!”

IF YOU GO

Rosanne Cash

Presented by Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Where: Rooster Stage, Marx Meadow, John F. Kennedy Drive east of 30th Avenue, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
When: 3:25 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: Free

Contact: www.strictlybluegrass.com

artsentertainmentHardly Strictly BluegrassOther ArtsSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Supes move to reject Breed’s picks for police oversight body, call for strong reformers

Ronen, Mar cite qualification concerns in voting against Police Commission nominees

SF public defender urges police to explicitly bar technique used in George Floyd death

Public Defender Manohar Raju is calling for policy changes after a widely… Continue reading

Protesters turn out Sunday in San Francisco for second day in a row

“To me, it’s everyone’s breaking point,” said Chris Jackson, who handed out water to fellow demonstrators.

Businesses slam proposed COVID-19 worker rehire law as too ‘burdensome’

Supervisor Mar’s legislation would require employers to take back staff at same pay

Curfew to remain in effect Monday night in SF; dozens arrested from Sunday protests

Police chief estimates as many as 6,000 took part in demonstrations

Most Read