Q&A: Rosanne Cash

The Man in Black's daughter on releasing her new album, working with her husband and growing up

Roseanne Cash in 1981. Credit: Kirk West/Getty Images

There's much ado about Rosanne Cash, whose second album, 'Seven Year Ache,' and recent club dates have reaped considerable praise. Johnny's twenty-five-year-old daughter lives with husband-producer Rodney Crowell and their two children (one by Rodney's previous marriage) in Los Angeles, where she wound up her tour and we caught up with her.

Is 'Seven Year Ache' a concept album?
Yeah, I think it is. It's about a girl and a man who's doing her wrong, but she's not a victim. It starts with "Rainin'," where he's leaving her, and "Seven Year Ache," where he's acting like a jerk, and goes on through "What Kind of Girl," where she's got her sense of humor back, along with some cockiness. The first side ends with "You Don't Have Very Far to Go," where he's breaking her heart, and the album ends with "I Can't Resist," where she gives in and loves this guy. Originally we had it ending with "Where Will the Words Come From?"her not loving him anymore.

You opted for the happy ending?
Well, Rodney did. I was against it at first, but now I'm glad we did it that way.

How's Rodney taking your success?
He's very happy. He didn't see the show until I got back to L.A., and then he said he was my fan.

Is it hard having your husband as your producer?
It's the hardest thing in the world, and the best thing in the world, too. Sometimes it's magic, sometimes it's work. Oh, God, we have World War III in the studio. It's really intense. It's either wonderful and easy working with someone you love, or it's fiery battles.

Do you try to keep the conflicts in the studio?
Yeah, but they come home anyway. They have to. It goes from pillow talk back into the studio.

Will the next album continue in the same vein?
It's a little too early to tell. I've written two songs for it, though.

What are they called?
I don't want to tell you yet. The two songs I wrote for this album ["Seven Year Ache" and "Blue Moon with Heartache"] were the only songs I wrote in the year and a half between albums.

Is it hard for you to write songs?
It's easy when it happens. It just doesn't happen that often. I'm not a writer who's so skilled in my technique that I can seek it out. I have to wait until it seeks me out.

What's up for you next?
I'm going to be doing another tour this summer. And a lot of TV John Davidson, Merv Griffin, Solid Gold and my dad's spring special. We're going to do a duet, maybe "No Memories," and I'm going to do "Seven Year Ache." And then the new album. I can't wait to get into the studio again. I've already got a lot of songs compiledfrom Keith Sykes and Rodney and one from Moon Martin called "Over the Edge," which hasn't been recorded yet.

Which performers do you like to see?
Springsteen. And there are some acts around L.A. I go to seethe Carl Gante Band, they're really good. I think the last group I paid to see was Rockpile.

That won't happen again.
Too bad. I'd pay to see Judy Garland right now if she were alive. I love her. She's my hero. She was an absolute clear channel of emotion through her singing. On the album recorded at Carnegie Hall, her voice cracks, breaks, she misses notes, and nobody gives a shit because the emotion is so strong. Patsy Cline was the same way. I think she had greater technical ability than Garland did, but the same emotional quality. What a voice. Unencumbered emotion.

You don't have the same self-destructive streak Judy Garland had.
I think I used to. But being married and having children changed that. Self-destruction is self-indulgent when you're trying to nurture a child and be an example to that child. I was twenty-four when I had my baby. I guess then I was ready to start growing up.