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Four a long time after releasing her first report, Rosanne Cash nonetheless defies stereotypes. In a 12 months when many nation stars select to stay silent on points starting from the NRA to gender equality, the 63-year-old singer writes op-eds about stopping gun violence, leads advocacy and social-justice efforts (she helped promote the Music Modernization Act into regulation in September, and not too long ago obtained a Spirit of Americana Free Speech in Music Award), and performs live shows throughout the globe. Her 14th studio launch, She Remembers Everything, is a well timed addition to a profession studded with Grammy awards and a best-selling memoir.

The new album illuminates pivotal moments of girls’s lives in ten songs set to atmospheric country-gothic textures that bridge genres and generations. The moody lead monitor, “The Only Thing Worth Fighting For,” is a collaboration with T Bone Burnett and Lera Lynn for the HBO collection True Detective, and options vocals by Cash and the Decemberists’ Colin Meloy; Cash additionally co-wrote cuts along with her producer–multi-instrumentalist husband John Leventhal, plus Elvis Costello, Kris Kristofferson, and Sam Phillips.

You launched She Remembers Everything with a dwell music efficiency in addition to spoken-word appearances by Maria Popova, A.M. Homes, Staceyann Chin, and Jana Levi, who learn written works by Angela Davis, Toni Morrison, and Ursula Ok. Le Guin. That’s a number of lady energy.

Yes, it [was] ladies studying each poetry and prose that connect with the songs, and the phrases have been all by ladies writers. I needed to put a stake within the sand. I can’t take it anymore.

When your tune “Seven Year Ache” crossed over onto the Billboard Hot 100 in the summertime of 1981, I used to be 12 and heard it at a pool get together. You have been the primary artist to make nation cool for my era. Today, there’s a form of sisterhood that connects you and Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams to youthful genre-busting songwriters like Brandi Carlile, Kacey Musgraves, and Taylor Swift. What prompted you to defend Swift’s latest political “popping out second on Instagram?

I used to be thrilled she took the danger [to speak out in favor of Tennessee’s Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterm elections] as a result of I get a lot blowback and I couldn’t even think about the blowback she’s gotten. She has a number of integrity, and he or she’s self-sufficient. I used to be ready for any person along with her clout to say one thing. Even although it was a easy endorsement and it was principally about voting, it was massively vital. Did you see what number of younger individuals registered to vote after that? It was wonderful. I assumed it was an act of nice social duty when she did it.

She Remembers Everything is just like your 1990 album, Interiors, in that it explores social points and the common themes of womanhood. You’re a mother of 5 who had small youngsters again then, and also you grew to become a grandmother whereas ending your newest report. Are the 2 albums checkpoints or bookends?

That’s good! I actually don’t suppose any of the lads [journalists] would have gotten that. Interiors was an inside report however I used to be lots youthful and I may solely go so deep. I hope [She Remembers Everything] isn’t a bookend. I hope it’s the opening of a brand new door. My youngest child went off to varsity after I was making the report, so I don’t rise up at 6:30 a.m. to get him to high school anymore or attempt to be right here when he will get residence. I felt I may go a bit of additional into insanity after I didn’t have a baby in the home to maintain. I may go right into a darkish place and keep there. I imply “My Least Favorite Life” is sort of a nightmare, and in some methods the tune “She Remembers Everything” was a sort of letting go of the construction I had created for my life.

“eight Gods of Harlem” references each the #MeToo motion and your stance on gun management within the line, “We pray to the god of gunfire and remorse” Is the tune a rebuttal to politicians’ “ideas and prayers” rhetoric about weapons in America? 

I didn’t consider it as a rebuttal, however that may be a honest and correct [assumption]. I simply wished to set the scene and make it uncooked and truthful so that every one these youngsters who’re killed by gun violence aren’t anonymous. Kris [Kristofferson] and Elvis [Costello] and I’ve been associates for a lot of a long time, and I simply had this concept we may write a tune collectively. We put a theatrical spin to it, the place I’m [the voice of the mother of the slain child], Kris is the daddy, and Elvis is the brother.

You’re a longtime New Yorker. Is it true you wrote “eight Gods” after you heard a lady mumble “ocho dioses” on the subway?

I used to be taking place into the subway and he or she was developing. She was clearly heavy-hearted, her brow was creased, and he or she was speaking to herself. I may have sworn I heard her say “ocho dioses.” I don’t communicate Spanish, however then I used to be on the A practice to Harlem and couldn’t get the phrase out of my head. I’ve labored as an activist towards gun violence for a very long time, so one way or the other I simply made the connection.

You wrote the songs on She Remembers Everything earlier than Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified at U.S. Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh’s affirmation listening to, however have been there prior #MeToo experiences or information tales which knowledgeable the album?

Besides “eight Gods”? No, I feel it’s extra a matter of patterns and the sentiments which have been impressed by all the pieces within the headlines over the previous few years — and likewise rage and hope and occupied with my daughters, all my youngsters actually, which is essentially the most painful half. One of my daughters referred to as me after the 2016 election and mentioned, “I really feel like I don’t matter.” I felt like I didn’t matter, like ladies didn’t matter, and it’s gotten worse, not higher. It’s like you possibly can’t be trusted with your individual reminiscence. You can’t be trusted with your individual physique. It’s devastating. I’ve a lot admiration for the ladies within the [#MeToo] motion who took the danger to talk out. I’ve my very own tales, you already know. I didn’t inform them publicly as a result of I don’t suppose the specifics matter, however the story issues. We all carry these tales in our our bodies.

Have these tales influenced your involvement in a separate undertaking to convey a Norma Rae present to Broadway?

I used to be writing the lyrics for Norma Rae [the musical] earlier than [the focus on #MeToo] occurred. It’s been a four-to-five-year course of, which is now infused with a brand new sort of vitality. The present is about in 1973, however there are particular scenes and moments the director modified [to have resonance in 2018]. All of the delicate males round me are getting a crash course in how they consider ladies and the way ladies ought to be handled, regardless that these males are clearly not overtly sexist. I imply, even my very own husband [John Leventhal] mentioned, “I’m actually getting an training.” At the start of the #MeToo motion, he advised me, “I don’t suppose I do know any males who would do these items.” I mentioned, “Yes, you do. You simply don’t know that you just don’t know.”

You’re very supportive of girls, particularly fellow musicians. Yet, you’ve spent a number of time in your profession recording and performing with males — from Bruce Springsteen and your ex-husband Rodney Crowell to Jeff Bridges and Jeff Tweedy. Was that ever an intentional transfer in your half, with a view to be seen as an equal?

I at all times had this sense that I used to be pretty much as good because the boys. I by no means appreciated the notion of “ladies songwriters” and “ladies musicians.” I simply felt that wasn’t honest. You shouldn’t make a subset for girls so as to decide them otherwise. When I began out [in the 1970s] there was — and nonetheless are — much more males who’re producers and lead guitar gamers and engineers than there have been ladies. I didn’t spend a number of time occupied with my very own sort of private feminist motion, I simply assumed I may do what males did. When my album The River & the Thread got here out [in 2014], I used to be a bit of embarrassed, as a result of regardless that Allison Moorer and Catherine Russell sang on it, somebody mentioned, “Don’t you already know any ladies musicians?” I went, “Oh shit!” And I began taking a look at it as a result of I’d by no means thought of [making music] as being like a Fortune 500 firm or U.S. Congress, the place it ought to be 50 p.c ladies. It’s such as you simply work with the individuals you’re employed with. I don’t know, perhaps I’ve been flawed about that every one alongside.

Or perhaps you’ve been proper since you’re not limiting your self? You co-wrote the title monitor “She Remembers Everything” with revered singer and songwriter Sam Phillips. How did that come about?

We share a writer and he prompt Sam and I write collectively. I really like her as a author. I used to be in L.A. on my own doing one thing, and I referred to as and requested her for a date. She goes, “Perfect. Sara Watkins is taking part in at Largo, let’s have dinner and go see Sara.” So we did and we talked and talked. Later, I wrote the lyrics to “She Remembers Everything” and despatched them to [Sam]. A number of months later, she despatched them again [with the music] and I liked it. When I took the tune to Tucker [Martine, the song’s producer, whose credits include R.E.M. and My Morning Jacket] I didn’t fairly understand how we have been going to interpret it with the band, however we fleshed out an concept that was fairly near the association in his head. Of course, Sam needed to sing on it.

I can’t consider many different writers whose songs take a look at private relationships throughout a continuum of life the way in which that the uptempo “Not Many Miles to Go” does. You don’t write compartmentalized verses about hookups or breakups. The phrases on this tune are about you and John [Leventhal] and the gloriously messy span of an extended, intimate partnership. Did you visualize this tune as a timeline?

I couldn’t have written it when it was nonetheless all about lust and heartbreak and intercourse. John and I’ve been collectively 25 years, and it slowly begins to daybreak on you that one in every of you goes to depart earlier than the opposite. That is inevitable and it’s extremely unhappy. And so I began trying round for the touchstones of our life — you already know, the issues that had repeating resonance for us and are constants, like his Telecaster [guitar] which is at all times there, his glass of bourbon on the finish of the day, how he complained for years about my sense of rhythm, like, “Honey, the tempo! Watch your time!” The tune, “Crossing to Jerusalem,” can also be about the identical material, but it surely’s extra in regards to the one factor you’ll take with you if you go away. The final verse is about seeing cities via tiny airplane home windows and the phases and resort rooms we’ve wandered via collectively all over the world.

“Crossing to Jerusalem” additionally follows a historic line of songs with Jerusalem within the title — together with the English church hymn with lyrics borrowed from a William Blake poem and music by Hubert Parry which additionally grew to become an anthem for the ladies’s suffrage motion within the 1920s. Is there any specific significance for you within the that means of Jerusalem?

I’ve tune lyrics on my cellphone, and I saved pondering, What is that this tune about? I simply appreciated the way in which the phrase “Jerusalem” rolls off the tongue. Then I assumed, Oh, Jerusalem is the opposite facet. Jerusalem is leaving the planet. I used to be doing an interview with a German author the opposite day and he had a extremely laborious time with that concept. I mentioned,”‘No, no, no. The tune’s not about faith.” I don’t actually imagine in heaven or hell, however there is one other facet. Energy doesn’t die.

You survived mind surgical procedure a decade in the past and are fascinated with quantum physics. To me, the tune “Particle and Wave” melds these experiences. What does the “rainbow of struggling”imply?

I don’t imagine we’re on the planet simply to expertise happiness. We all are likely to push away from ache and struggling.  You know, it’s not snug, however ache is half of life. I imply, no person escapes that. I do know it sounds trite, however I wished to acknowledge that there will be magnificence in struggling.

In “The Undiscovered Country,” you sing about Shakespeare and your father “who kick mud up in my goals” after which observe it up a number of traces later with the sentiment, “It’s my flip, I gained’t look again.” The tune alludes to the sacrifices ladies make for one another and for future generations. Tell me in regards to the writing course of.

For months, I labored over the lyrics to “The Undiscovered Country.” I used to be decided I used to be going to put in writing the music myself as a result of I felt that the tune is a form of mission assertion. The previous, the longer term, the lady who walks alongside the ocean is the savior we didn’t embrace — whoever she is, whether or not she’s Hillary [Clinton] or whether or not it’s us. I wrote 4 completely different melodies for it. All of them are nonetheless on my cellphone. I lastly thought, “John would know tips on how to write the music to this, he’ll discover it,” and he did in a short time. So I simply had to surrender no matter hubris or territoriality I’ve about songwriting and do what was finest for the tune. Ultimately, that’s what [a songwriter wants], proper?

I bear in mind first seeing Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash as visitor stars on the 1970s TV collection Little House on the Prairie fairly than as nation music legends on a stage. You’re happy with your loved ones — your earlier three albums [2014’s Grammy-winning The River & the Thread, The List (2009), and Black Cadillac (2006)] honored your relationships along with your mother and father [including your mother, Vin Liberto Cash], as does your new ballad, “Everyone But Me.” Does it annoy you when music journalists focus extra in your heritage than your music? She Remembers Everything looks like the ultimate straw.

You’re completely proper. The album is so profoundly a feminine narrative and a lady’s lengthy story. If the takeaway from it’s that I’m Johnny Cash’s daughter, I simply … I’m gonna snap. Because it’s so sexist to maintain defining ladies by the lads they’re

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