by Rosanne Cash
I heard my dad mention her many times, and heard him say she was his “favorite singer.” It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I really listened to her myself, and I understood what she meant to my dad, and how influential she had been. I can imagine him listening to hear over the radio, that combination of spiritual and badass, and how my dad integrated that VERY combination into his own musical persona.
“Strange Things Happening Every Day” is just.. chilling. It is like a William Faulkner novel in miniature and verse, set with a bluesy, plunking guitar; a Southern Gospel warning and hallelujah, a dark painting of a thrilling soundscape.
She was liberated– in voice, in movement, in phrasing, in musicianship. She seemed so confident, so authentic. It’s hard to find this kind of deep authenticity now. There is no self-consciousness or artifice in her performances: she was just ‘moved by the spirit’, as they say. Perhaps she identified the ‘spirit’ that moved her as a particular kind of God, the Southern Christian God, but to me it is the spirit of the holiest kind of art: deep, pure, authentic, truthful and with an artistry that may not ever come this way again.
I have to say, she may be my “favorite singer.”