“The last time I won a Grammy, Reagan was president.”
That’s how Rosanne Cash kicked off the first of three acceptance speeches at last night’s Grammy Awards pre-telecast, where the Americana pioneer took home three trophies for The River & the Thread. It was the first time in nearly three decades that the 12-time nominee, who landed her first Grammy with 1985’s “I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me,” walked away from the ceremony with an award rather than a consolation prize.
Back in February 1986 — when Cash attended the 28th annual Grammy Awards and beat out competition from Emmylou Harris, Juice Newton and Dolly Parton in the now-discontinued category of Best Country Vocal Performance, Female — Johnny Cash’s eldest daughter was one of country music’s biggest names. She had already sent five songs to the top of the country charts, and she’d send five more before the decade was up. Although she didn’t tour as much as other country hitmakers during the Reagan days, preferring to stay home and raise her children with then-husband Rodney Crowell, Cash still packed a punch in concert, too. Case in point: her performance of “I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me” at Austin City Limits in 1988. (Watch the live video above.)
If Cash looked comfortable on the ACL stage, it’s because she had already made several appearances on the show by 1988, both as a solo act and as a duet partner with simpatico singers like Crowell and Emmylou Harris. During the decades following that performance, Cash has returned to Austin City Limits multiple times, joining legends like Lyle Lovett and Willie Nelson as the of the show’s most frequent performers.