It has been a magical September for Rosanne Cash, who wrapped up her Artist-In-Residency series on September 24 at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum with a set that showed once again why she is one of the most unique and critically acclaimed artists of her time.
Featuring just herself and husband John Leventhal on guitar, Cash brought the intimate Ford Theater to life with a collection of songs that ran the gamut of her Grammy-winning career.
The first part of the evening was dedicated to music from her recent album The River and the Thread. Some of the highlights of this part of the set included the mystical “The Sunken Lands,” which she says was written about her family heritage in the Arkansas Delta. “Etta’s Tune,” a tribute to the love story of longtime Tennessee Two member Marshall Grant and his wife, also moved many in the audience, and she cast a spell of enchantment on the crowd with “When The Master Calls The Roll,” a song inspired by her dual Civil War family history.
From there, Cash revisited her 2009 album The List. Inspired by a collection of 100 songs that her father suggested she become familiar with in her teenage years, she gave a poetic feel to “500 Miles,” tipped the hat to Don Gibson on “Sea Of Heatbreak,” and slowed down the tempo on Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On,” turning the 1950 hit into something of a jazz tour de force, soaking up the raw emotion of the lyrics about a person who has had enough.
Then, there were her hit singles. She dusted off John Hiatt’s “The Way We Make A Broken Heart,” telling the audience that she had only performed it “about twice in 25 years.” Leventhal sat down at the piano to accompany his wife on a much slower version of her 1985 No. 1 “I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me,” but the highlight of her hits was 1981’s “Blue Moon With Heartache.” The stunningly gorgeous song about losing that special spark with your lover might very well be the most heartbreaking four minutes any female artist – oops…any artist has ever laid down in a Nashville studio.
For her encore, the singer dazzled with “Tennessee Flat Top Box,” and finished the night with “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” closing out what was definitely one of the most passionate performances of the Hall’s Artist series.