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By David Werther.

Rosanne Cash, The List (Manhattan Records, 2009)

           Shortly after Rosanne Cash graduated from high school, her dad gave her the titles of a hundred songs and said, "This is your education." Johnny Cash had been alarmed when his daughter, growing up on pop and rock, had not recognized songs he deemed indispensable. In response, he wrote up a list, "100 Essential Country Songs."

           Rosanne is now passing these songs on to her five children, starting with the dozen on The List. Among them are "Miss the Mississippi and You," "The Long Black Veil," "Sea of Heartache," "Motherless Children," and "Girl from the North Country." Bruce Springsteen joins her on "Sea of Heartache," Elvis Costello on "Heartaches by the Number," and daughter Chelsea Crowell on "500 Miles." Rosanne's husband, John Leventhal, produced, arranged, and played guitar, organ, bass, piano, and dobro.

           Rosanne is a renowned songwriter. Apart from a desire to pass on a legacy, she had no need to cover anyone else's songs. Cash and Leventhal capture the beauty and power of the dozen classics on The List. It is sobering to consider that the overarching theme of these selections from Johnny Cash's "100 Essential Country Songs" is heartache and separation. Too much of our education comes that way.

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