Sunday, April 17, 2011

Composed: A Memoir by Rosanne Cash

A teacher at school noticed me reading this book during a break and said, "Oh, I love Johnny Cash.  Is that book any good?"

"It's very good, " I said.  That's all I said, because I needed to get back to my classroom and didn't feel like explaining that this was a book by Rosanne Cash, about Rosanne Cash.  If she wanted a story about Johnny Cash, there are probably plenty out there, but this isn't one of them.  And besides all that, it wasn't like I was going to let her borrow this book, she's had my copy of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo since October, so I'm certainly not letting her have any more of my books.

If someone is wanting a book full of dark family secrets and confessions, this is probably not the book for you.  I'm sure that Rosanne Cash could have written something like that, if she'd chosen.  I'm going to guess she has plenty of stories she could tell, and it would be within her right, because those stories are a part of her life.  But instead she remains on a higher ground, showing respect for her family and choosing to keep their worst moments private.

While she hints at the pain caused by divorce and the addictions that haunted members of her family, she leaves out the details.  Instead of a sordid celebrity tell-all, this book is instead a series of essays about her reflections on the events of her life.  She writes less about the actual events and more about the way these events have affected her thoughts and her actions.  She writes about how she's approached life's milestones - living on her own for the first time, establishing her career as a musician and a writer, falling in love, becoming a wife and a mother, falling in love again, becoming a mother to a son, losing parents and other loved ones, and learning to forgive.  She writes beautifully about these events and the way that she turned to art and music and examined her own ideas and beliefs and paid attention to her dreams. 

After reading about how she listened to Miles Davis while painting, I started playing Kind of Blue for my students while they worked. 

I've always been a fan of her music, which is why my sister gave me a copy of this book for Christmas.  But after reading this book, I've gained a new respect for her.  Shortly after reading this book -- I was able to see her perform in Fort Worth at the Main Street Arts Festival.  (And if you don't already follow her on twitter, I very much recommend you do, she's funny and smart.)

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