Jenny asked if I would feature Rosanne Cash. Well, yes - always glad to talk about this remarkable singer. Jenny doesn't remember when she was on the charts, but her mom loved her - and ever since Jenny has too. Rosanne Cash was and is exceptionally talented and was one of my favs when she was all over Country Radio. I proudly played all of her songs on great stations across the country.
Seven Year Ache - Huge Hit, Breakthrough Song
It's not always easy being a kid of a legend in country music. Just ask Lorrie Morgan, Pam Tillis, or Hank Jr. Rosanne of course, is Johnny's daughter, and even though there were similarities, RC was absolutely her own star. She was versatile and I think should get a whole lot more credit for being a truly great vocalist. She was a bit hard to categorize, as many of her songs played pop and country, and much like her dad she was outside the normal in the music world in general. BUT she absolutely possessed, and was blessed with the incredibly "cool" gene Johnny gave her through DNA.
Grammy Winner - And A HUGE Hit! (With Vince Gill)
She jumped on the country charts in 1981 when a more pop-country sound was in vogue. She has appeared on about every chart there is during and after her great commercial run. She has been nominated for so many awards in so many categories, with so many associations it's almost ridiculous. She's won about everything you can, as she is immensely gifted and I would gladly pay good money to hear her sing today. Sadly, like many from that era, history has not been overly kind in remembering their greatness within our format. She is without question one of the most underrated country singers of all time. She was one of a kind for sure. That was one of her great powers.
Big Song - A Real Favorite
Cash was Maren Morris before Maren Morris was born. She was her own person with a big voice and a distinct sound. Her songs landed on various stations, formats, and charts with universal appeal. It seemed her image and sound answered to absolutely no one but herself. Like Morris, she was country rooted, but was still a bit outside the norm for the format. Like Morris, she won awards, sold records and was liked and noticed by people away from country. She married a young country singer, Rodney Crowell who also went on to great success as a singer and songwriter, plus they recorded and worked together. Sound familiar?
Like Her Dad - A Singing Storyteller
The very first time I saw Cash perform I was sold. She opened for a former member of the Eagles, Randy Meisner at a joint called Monopolies in Lorain, Ohio in 1981 right as her first big hit, Seven Year Ache was on the charts. She was dressed in all black with a shirt that had a print of a huge pair of silver scissors on it, she was confident and cool. She was about 26 and dominated the stage, making it tough to follow. I saw her a number of times after that including a show with Michael Stanley I think, although I can't remember that completely - or the venue. It may have been the Coliseum. Over the next few years she had an array of big songs and incredible success, with 11 #1 songs and charted about 40 songs overall. Then, like Taylor Swift did, Cash made a clean break and left country to pursue other musical genres and had tremendous success. She is still award winning as she hauled off a truckload of Grammys (3) in 2015 in the Americana Category.
Big Song #1 - Big Voice
She had some well documented personal issues with substance abuse, some physical health conditions, and her high profile marriage to Crowell ending. But that's life's journey. She sang with everyone, (including her dad), she recorded with everyone and has done everything you can do in music. Being from musical royalty, she's one of those incredible performers you hope is never silent. During her country run, Cash was nothing like her contemporaries Sylvia, Janie Fricke, Reba, Charly McLain, Dolly, Barbara Mandrell, Crystal Gayle or pretty much anyone else in Nashville, as there was something distinctive about her. I guess she had an edge that was more leaning towards say, Tanya Tucker, or Miranda Lambert from today, but she was unique from them too.
Her country chart run in the 1980's was remarkable, at a time when the a lot of the format really wasn't. She was a divergent bright spot recording highly original music, (more than most) at a time when we were far too cookie - cutter. She had an amazing aura of cutting through, as you knew it was her singing on the radio. Rare indeed.
A Fan Favorite
When the Traditionalists showed up about 1986 and beyond, many of the pop-country artists were slowly ushered aside. But her enviable versatility kept her in the game for a few more years during and after country's big transitional period. And why? She did not spend the early and mid 80's pigeonholing herself into a single mundane sound and style. I always felt her intent was to make "good" music and not just "hit" music. Cash was nimble and she pivoted, and she was just flat out good - still is.
Just like her dad a generation before, she gave us a kind of cool we needed. In short, Rosanne Cash was just Bad A**.