Rosanne Cash’ Blue Moons and Broken Hearts: the Anthology 1979-1996

Rosanne Cash is the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash and his first wife Vivian. She has a brand new album out which is being strongly promoted. This disc, Blue Moons and Broken Hearts is an anthology of her earlier work. It covers a variety of styles and sounds, as Rosanne searched for her own voice, but it also shows that there was always something there to work with. The liner notes talk about her first recording, for the German label Ariola, being a mistake. That record is not represented here. There are no mistakes on this anthology!

The first few tracks come from her first U.S. album, Right or Wrong which was produced by Rodney Crowell. “Right or Wrong” is pretty country, and “Anybody’s Darling” finds Rosanne singing with Bobby Bare. Crowell wrote the songs and his fingerprint is on these tracks. He ended up being Rosanne’s husband for a while, and steered her recordings for some time. He produced several albums for his wife, but she began to grow pretty quickly. She was Johnny’s daughter after all. She wrote “Seven Year Ache,” and “Blue Moon With Heartache” and co-wrote others with Crowell, but she also had a great ear for covers. “My Baby Thinks He’s a Train” has the same railway rhythm that propelled many of her father’s hits.

She took on songs by Tom Petty and John Hiatt. She did the definitive version of John Stewart’s “Runaway Train” and gave new life to Johnny Cash’s “Tennessee Flat Top Box”. Her combination of country and contemporary led to the success of people like Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks.

Rosanne branched out, writing books, taking a long time between albums. Her work is thoughtful and moving. You can see from the pictures included in the insert booklet, from the informative liner notes, and from the development of the music through the 21 tracks Raven has selected that she was searching for her voice. By the time this collection ends, she had found it. But it’s there throughout this collection. Sure Rosanne Cash has a new CD out this month, but if you aren’t familiar with where she’s been, Blue Moons and Broken Hearts is a good place to start.

(Raven, 2005)

About David Kidney

David Kidney was born in the Marine Hospital on Staten Island in the middle of the last century, when the millenium seemed a very long way off. His family soon moved to Canada, because the air was fresher. He has written songs and stories, played guitar, painted, sculpted, and coached soccer and baseball. He edits and publishes the Rylander, the Ry Cooder Quarterly, which has subscribers around the world. He says life in the Great White North is grand. He lives in Dundas in the province of Ontario, with his wife.