Rosanne Cash brings ‘List’ of classics to acoustic set
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media October 5, 2011 5:32PM
Rosanne Cash, JOHN LEVENTHAL
8 p.m. Oct. 7
McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn
† 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8
† Blizzard Theatre, Elgin Community College, 1700 Spartan Dr., Elgin
† (847) 622-0300;
Updated: January 23, 2012 4:03AM
What’s on your list?
That’s the question you’ll be thinking about if you see “Rosanne Cash: A Special Acoustic Duo with John Leventhal” this weekend at College of DuPage or Elgin Community College.
Cash will perform songs from her Grammy-nominated 2009 album, “The List,” which famously came to be when her father, the late country music pioneer Johnny Cash, realized she lacked an understanding of the country music genre. He made a list of 100 essential country songs he thought documented every critical juncture in country music. She took that list, whittled it down and made an album out of it. Now she is touring with her husband, musician and producer John Leventhal, performing a stripped-down version of “The List.”
Steve Duchrow, director of performing arts at ECC, said Cash has evolved into a force in American songwriting, and that this concert will be a nexus of four forces in American art.
“First of all, there’s Rosanne and John Leventhal. Then you have this list, which is some of the best American songs ever written by people like Merle Haggard or Harlan Howard or Hal David or Bob Dylan,” Duchrow said. “Then the fourth thing, you have Johnny Cash, which is like the myth of the man coming off the mountain. He’s taken the time to write what has influenced his work.
“Those four things are coming together on that record and in this concert. That’s what unique. These are forces of American art that have stood the test of time and will stand the test of time, and they’re all coming together at this point. So that’s what is exciting about this work.”
Duchrow says “The List” is a record that gets better with each listen.
“Her interpretation of ‘500 Miles,’ I didn’t think that song could get any more poignant. And yet her and her daughter, who sing on it together, have really brought another level of depth to it,” he said. “‘Girl From the North Country’ is beautiful. And there’s that tie to Bob Dylan and her dad singing that piece together.”
Then you have Jeff Tweedy from Wilco singing on the album, along with Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen and Rufus Wainwright.
“[Those] are four names in American songcraft that recognize the depth of ‘The List’ and what Rosanne and John bring to interpreting that list,” Duchrow said. “It’s really rich. You don’t usually get that at a concert, where there are all those meta-layers that are happening. I’ve always been interested in songwriting and songcraft as it’s manifested itself in folk music and roots music. Songwriters help make sense of the world. They take snapshots of the world and name things.”
Cash’s stripped-down acoustic set will offer audience members a new, subtle dynamic to these classic songs. They will be able to appreciate the beauty of the songs, Duchrow said.
“You’re going to have great song interpretation of classic American repertory and great song interpretation from the source — meaning Rosanne’s music,” he said. “I think it will be intimate and soft and sweet and beautiful. It’s just two artists bringing their musical voices to bear in this space. It’s like painting, and you’ll get to see how they do that. And if you’re really paying attention, you can start to peel the threads back to the source of that original work. What was Hal David doing when he wrote that? If you know the original songs and original artists, you can compare.”