NPR logo Exclusive First Listen: Rosanne Cash Sings Her Father's 'List'

Exclusive First Listen: Rosanne Cash Sings Her Father's 'List'

Hear 'The List' In Its Entirety, With A Bonus Track

Audio for this feature is no longer available. The album was released on Oct. 6, 2009.

courtesy of the artist
Rosanne Cash
courtesy of the artist

Back in 1973, Rosanne Cash told her father that she wanted to play country music for a living. Johnny Cash was, to put it mildly, an authority on the subject, so he made her a list of 100 essential songs she needed to hear as she embarked on her career. "Long Black Veil." "Girl From the North Country." "Miss the Mississippi and You."

Each selection not only added to the young singer's understanding of music and the emotions behind writing and performing songs; they also provide a window into the mind and spirit of Rosanne Cash's late father. Thirty-six years later, the younger Cash has had a fruitful career, and now she's taken on the task of interpreting some of the music Johnny Cash helped her discover when she was starting out. The List, heard here in its entirety for the week leading up to its Oct. 6 release, compiles 12 of those covers, with guest vocals from Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. (An iTunes-only bonus track, "Satisfied Mind," also features Neko Case and is included here.)

Rosanne Cash has never been the showiest country singer around, which is part of her considerable appeal: She inherited her father's plainspoken nature, which lends her a measure of authenticity and authority. These 12 covers are — by definition and necessity — timeless, and Cash's performances give them room to breathe and shine.

Please leave your opinions of The List — and suggest a list of songs you'd pass down to your children — in the comments section below.

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