After the “The River & The Thread” tour ended a half-decade ago, Roseanne Cash’s Blue Note label hoped for a repeat of the commercially successful and critically acclaimed album. Who could blame the label for coveting a replication of an album that garnered three Grammy Awards and considerable industry buzz?
However, Cash, 64, always has been compelled to move on throughout her storied career.
“My record company wanted more of ‘The River” & The Thread’ but I couldn’t do it,” she said. “It seemed false. So I went in another direction.”
It’s not surprising for Cash, who has been a maverick during her lengthy career, to go another way. Many children with considerably less talent hope to follow in their famous parents’ footsteps and carve out a successful career.
The eldest daughter of Johnny Cash and his first wife, Vivian Liberto, however, has been a remarkably consistent singer/songwriter since the release of her 1979 debut album, “Right or Wrong.” All told, she’s been nominated for 16 Grammys in four genres — country, folk, pop and American roots — and picked up four statues. Her most recent nomination came in the 2020 American roots category for “Crossing to Jerusalem” off her latest album, “She Remembers Everything.”
“I’ve been fortunate,” Cash said by phone from her New York apartment. “But I’ve worked hard and I’ve continued moving forth. It’s always been about that burst of newness, creativity and curiosity.”
That’s part of the reason Cash continues to achieve.
“There are a number of great legacy artists, such as Bruce Springsteen, Tony Bennett, Elvis Costello and Lucinda Williams,” Cash said. “They don’t stop challenging themselves. They live in the moment.”
That’s what Cash did when she wrote and recorded the tracks for her latest album, “She Remembers Everything.” The project wasn’t as commercially successful as “The River & The Thread,” but it made an impact. Cash admitted that she couldn’t have written the moving, fearless songs a generation ago. The tunes come from a recording artist who has a wealth of experience.
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“This is not a title or a song that I could have come up with 30 years ago,” she said. “It’s a double entendre. Is it a come-on or is it a warning?”
Much of the album sounds like it was composed during the #MeToo Movement.
“Many of the tracks were written before #MeToo, but some were written at the dawn of it,” Cash said. “I was definitely inspired by what was happening. After the last election was over, one of my daughters told me that she felt that her voice didn’t matter anymore. That just pierced my heart. It was like a cold bucket of water was tossed over me. But I believe things are changing. We’re not there yet, but it’s improving. What was acceptable is not acceptable anymore. Decent men are questioning their past. Even my husband (and her co-writer and producer John Leventhal) said that he’s learning. He also said that he doesn’t know men like Harvey Weinstein, and I told him that he does. He just doesn’t know it.”
The anti-gun “8 Gods of Harlem” is one of the most moving tracks from “She Remembers Everything.” Cash, who has long been an advocate of gun control, wrote the song as a public service.
“Feeling like I do about guns is an extension of mothering,” she said. “Saving the life of one child is well worth not having a semi-automatic weapon in the hands of a person. The Second Amendment should be re-examined.”
Her view is not exactly a popular take in the country music world.
“I’m in the minority there, but I don’t care,” she said. “I’m not worried about alienating anyone.”
Cash will perform Saturday (2/8) at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City. On Friday (2/7), the genre-crossing recording artist and author will speak during a free University of Iowa “Creative Matters” lecture series at Hancher.
“It’s an honor and a thrill for me to lecture at the university,” she said. “I have so much to talk about.”
Of course Cash has much to share, since she remembers everything. What does Cash, who has recorded rock, pop, folk and blues numbers as well as country, remember most about her larger-than-life father?
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“When I think about my dad, what comes to mind is his kindness and his work ethic,” she said. “My dad worked in the cotton fields as a kid and he worked so hard. That stayed with him, but I also think about how incredibly sweet he was with me. There was never anyone like him. I’m so glad I share the same love of writing and performing music he did.”
• What: Rosanne Cash in concert
• Where: Hancher Auditorium, 141 E. Park Rd., Iowa City
• When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday (2/8)
• Run time: 80 to 85 min., no intermission
• Tickets: $45 to $65 adults; $10 to $58 college students; $10 to $32 youths; Hancher Box Office, (319) 335-1160, 1-(800) HANCHER or Hancher.uiowa.edu/2019-20/RosanneCash
• Artist’s website: Rosannecash.com
• An Evening of Music & Literature: Rosanne Cash, A.M. Homes, Lan Samantha Chang, Tameka Cage Conley, John Leventhal, 7 p.m. today (2/6), Strauss Hall, Hancher; $25
• Creative Matters lecture: Rosanne Cash, 7 p.m. Friday (2/7), Hancher Auditorium; free, registration encouraged
• Details: Hancher.uiowa.edu/2019-20/RosanneCash