13 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The titular list here refers to a handwritten selection of country music songs that Johnny Cash gave to his daughter Rosanne on her 18th birthday. With this album she testifies to the power of her father’s gift. The lesson of The List is that a great song lends itself to interpretation by a multitude of singers, each of whom can tell his or her own story within the old structure. Hank Snow’s jaunty celebration “I’m Movin’ On” here becomes a sultry blues. The worn-out folk ballad “500 Miles” transforms into something ethereal and introverted. When she’s not reinventing a song, Cash’s faithful readings of “Take These Chains From My Heart,” “She’s Got You” and “Silver Wings” strike a neat balance between reverence and stylization — like a young woman asking the old gentleman at the party for the night’s last dance. Of Cash’s estimable duet partners, she is best matched to Bruce Springsteen, who seems to have an inherent grasp of the Everly Brothers’ bright harmonies, in spite of his grizzled voice. Illuminated by John Leventhal’s sparsely elegant production — reminiscent of T-Bone Burnett’s signature sound —The List is at once easy swaying and deeply felt.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The titular list here refers to a handwritten selection of country music songs that Johnny Cash gave to his daughter Rosanne on her 18th birthday. With this album she testifies to the power of her father’s gift. The lesson of The List is that a great song lends itself to interpretation by a multitude of singers, each of whom can tell his or her own story within the old structure. Hank Snow’s jaunty celebration “I’m Movin’ On” here becomes a sultry blues. The worn-out folk ballad “500 Miles” transforms into something ethereal and introverted. When she’s not reinventing a song, Cash’s faithful readings of “Take These Chains From My Heart,” “She’s Got You” and “Silver Wings” strike a neat balance between reverence and stylization — like a young woman asking the old gentleman at the party for the night’s last dance. Of Cash’s estimable duet partners, she is best matched to Bruce Springsteen, who seems to have an inherent grasp of the Everly Brothers’ bright harmonies, in spite of his grizzled voice. Illuminated by John Leventhal’s sparsely elegant production — reminiscent of T-Bone Burnett’s signature sound —The List is at once easy swaying and deeply felt.

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