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Always Been There: Rosanne Cash, the List, and the Spirit of Southern Music

Michael Streissguth

Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Dec. 4, 2009

Always Been There: Rosanne Cash, The List, and the Spirit of Southern Music

by Michael Streissguth
Da Capo Press, 223 pp., $24

Ostensibly about the making of Rosanne Cash's latest album, The List, this overview digs deeper. Michael Streissguth, author of Johnny Cash: The Biography, offers a detailed portrait of his subject through interviews conducted in her studio, home, and even on tour in Europe, but along with exposing Rosanne's intensely thoughtful rebel heart and the fable of "the list," he includes biographical information and reminiscences that highlight the historical aspect of her life and times. The titular list is a handwritten collection of 100 essential songs that the elder Cash gave his eldest child in 1973, songs he felt any young musician should know. That she now can't find the hidden-on-purpose list offers some intrigue to Streissguth's telling, but a great deal of Always Been There reveals Rosanne still wrestling with her father's demise and legacy – refusing requests for "Ring of Fire" in concert and wondering how to reconstruct "the list" so she can decide which songs to record. An effortless read with plentiful photos, Always Been There is an enticing view of an artist unafraid to challenge herself.

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