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A candid and moving memoir from the critically acclaimed singer and songwriter For thirty years as a musician, Rosanne Cash has enjoyed both critical and commercial success, releasing a series of albums that are as notable for their lyrical intelligence as for their musical excellence. Now, in her memoir, Cash writes compellingly about her upbringing in Southern California A candid and moving memoir from the critically acclaimed singer and songwriter For thirty years as a musician, Rosanne Cash has enjoyed both critical and commercial success, releasing a series of albums that are as notable for their lyrical intelligence as for their musical excellence. Now, in her memoir, Cash writes compellingly about her upbringing in Southern California as the child of country legend Johnny Cash, and of her relationships with her mother and her famous stepmother, June Carter Cash. In her account of her development as an artist she shares memories of a hilarious stint as a twenty-year-old working for Columbia Records in London, recording her own first album on a German label, working her way to success, her marriage to Rodney Crowell, a union that made them Nashville's premier couple, her relationship with the country music establishment, taking a new direction in her music and leaving Nashville to move to New York. As well as motherhood, dealing with the deaths of her parents, in part through music, the process of songwriting, and the fulfillment she has found with her current husband and musical collaborator, John Leventhal. Cash has written an unconventional and compelling memoir that, in the tradition of M. F. K. Fisher's The Gastronomical Me and Frank Conroy's Stop-Time, is a series of linked pieces that combine to form a luminous and brilliant whole.


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A candid and moving memoir from the critically acclaimed singer and songwriter For thirty years as a musician, Rosanne Cash has enjoyed both critical and commercial success, releasing a series of albums that are as notable for their lyrical intelligence as for their musical excellence. Now, in her memoir, Cash writes compellingly about her upbringing in Southern California A candid and moving memoir from the critically acclaimed singer and songwriter For thirty years as a musician, Rosanne Cash has enjoyed both critical and commercial success, releasing a series of albums that are as notable for their lyrical intelligence as for their musical excellence. Now, in her memoir, Cash writes compellingly about her upbringing in Southern California as the child of country legend Johnny Cash, and of her relationships with her mother and her famous stepmother, June Carter Cash. In her account of her development as an artist she shares memories of a hilarious stint as a twenty-year-old working for Columbia Records in London, recording her own first album on a German label, working her way to success, her marriage to Rodney Crowell, a union that made them Nashville's premier couple, her relationship with the country music establishment, taking a new direction in her music and leaving Nashville to move to New York. As well as motherhood, dealing with the deaths of her parents, in part through music, the process of songwriting, and the fulfillment she has found with her current husband and musical collaborator, John Leventhal. Cash has written an unconventional and compelling memoir that, in the tradition of M. F. K. Fisher's The Gastronomical Me and Frank Conroy's Stop-Time, is a series of linked pieces that combine to form a luminous and brilliant whole.

30 review for Composed: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    It's a hard road but it fits your shoes. --50,000 Watts Fans of Rosanne Cash know she's been writing her memoir for decades . . . through her songs. The pain, the joy, the love and the heartbreak - stories of a life, laid out for your musical enjoyment. But, this is the "official" version, the one for you to read instead of listen to. Cash writes quite candidly about her relationship with her famous father, the importance of family, and her struggles with balancing her career and motherhood. Ma It's a hard road but it fits your shoes. --50,000 Watts Fans of Rosanne Cash know she's been writing her memoir for decades . . . through her songs. The pain, the joy, the love and the heartbreak - stories of a life, laid out for your musical enjoyment. But, this is the "official" version, the one for you to read instead of listen to. Cash writes quite candidly about her relationship with her famous father, the importance of family, and her struggles with balancing her career and motherhood. Many musicians think they can do no wrong, so it was refreshing to find Cash dissing some of her own work, particularly the song Real Woman from Interiors, the only song of hers I honestly can't stand. I've been a fan since 1981, though I never leaned on Cash as hard as I did after my mother died in 2008. The Black Cadillac disc, featuring songs about the deaths of Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, and Rosanne's mother, Vivian, provided a strange comfort, and I listened to it incessantly during those dark days. But I hear his voice close in my ear I see her smile and wave. I blink and while my eyes are closed they both have gone away --House on the Lake Once we had a mother but that's all over now so wish her well and let her go just as soon as you know how --Like Fugitives In the book, Cash speaks eloquently about death as something that unites us all: You begin to realize that everyone has a tragedy, and that if he doesn't, he will. You recognize how much is hidden behind the small courtesies and civilities of everyday existence. Deep sorrow and traces of great loss run through everyone's lives, and yet they let others step into the elevator first, wave them ahead in a line of traffic, smile and greet their children and inquire about their lives, and never let on for a second that they, too, have lain awake at night, in longing and regret, that they too have cried until it seemed impossible that one person could hold so many tears, that they, too, keep a picture locked in their heart and bring it out in quiet solitary moments to caress and remember. Loss is the great unifier, the terrible club to which we all belong. If you're a Rosanne Cash fan, this is essential reading.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    I grew up listening to the different songs by Johnny Cash on the radio and TV. His eldest daughter Rosanne carried on his legacy as a musician, forging her own impressive body of work. She has written a candid, penetrating, and, at times, wryly humorous memoir. I like how sincere, compassionate, and proud she feels about her family and friends. She talks a lot about her famous dad and shares her thoughts on him. All in all, it's a delight to read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gary Anderson

    One of the most moving concert experiences I've ever witnessed was from Rosanne Cash. This was toward the end of her Black Cadillac tour. She'd done a great set, including some of her hits and some of the songs that later became The List. The audience was clearly with her. She came out for the encore seeming like she'd enjoyed herself. As she prepared to go into her last song, someone yelled out "I Still Miss Someone, Rosanne." She said, "Yeah?", turned to her husband John on piano and asked, "C One of the most moving concert experiences I've ever witnessed was from Rosanne Cash. This was toward the end of her Black Cadillac tour. She'd done a great set, including some of her hits and some of the songs that later became The List. The audience was clearly with her. She came out for the encore seeming like she'd enjoyed herself. As she prepared to go into her last song, someone yelled out "I Still Miss Someone, Rosanne." She said, "Yeah?", turned to her husband John on piano and asked, "Can we do that?" He started playing it, and she began a tender rendering of that great song from her dad's repertoire. But she couldn't get through it. She became emotional and just stopped singing. John kept going and she came back to the song and finished it powerful. I've never witnessed anything so personal in such a public setting. Afterwards we hung around to see if we could talk to her, and she was as friendly and approachable as she could be. I asked her what she had originally intended to do as an encore, and she said, "Wouldn't It Be Loverly." I thanked her for doing what she did instead. What a delightful person. Reading Rosanne Cash's Composed was a deeply affecting experience for me. Reading about her struggles, successes, and perspectives makes me want to be quite a bit more intentional about the ways I consider family, work, art, and other people. If you liked Bob Dylan's Chronicles, this book is better. If you admire Mary Karr's books, this one is every bit as good. If you're looking for a sappy celebrity tell-all, look elsewhere. If you're prepared to be moved and inspired, start here.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    I have yet to call myself a fan of Rosanne Cash's music. She is a great songwriter, but not a lyricist of the quality of, say, Suzanne Vega, who I think possesses some of my devotion that I could have diverted to Cash. Now, Cash has finally won me over, because while her lyrics might not have Vega's poetic flexibility, her prose writing is solid and evocative. For example, her explanation of the analog recording process is fascinating and enlightening without seeming technical, although she did I have yet to call myself a fan of Rosanne Cash's music. She is a great songwriter, but not a lyricist of the quality of, say, Suzanne Vega, who I think possesses some of my devotion that I could have diverted to Cash. Now, Cash has finally won me over, because while her lyrics might not have Vega's poetic flexibility, her prose writing is solid and evocative. For example, her explanation of the analog recording process is fascinating and enlightening without seeming technical, although she did teach me a few things. Mostly, she explains how she misses the "hands on" sense of the analog process, from having to tune knobs precisely to cutting magnetic tape. As someone who came of age straddling the analog and digital age, her perspective fascinated me. But Cash also talks about motherhood, seeming to be still in disbelief that she had and raised five children while having a career. Her amazement makes for some insightful writing, and some of the most convincing arguments that I (a confirmed childless woman) have heard for having children.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Pris robichaud

    "I'll send the angels to watch over you tonight/And you send them right back to me./A lonely road is a bodyguard/If you really want it to be." song: 'Sleeping In Paris' from the album 'The Wheel'. Rosanne Cash, it seems has been writing forever. The above song was written after the demise of her first marriage. She remembers as a school child writing a sentence and feeling the extraordinary power of words. What she has given us in her memoir is a lifetime of writing that is, indeed, so beautiful "I'll send the angels to watch over you tonight/And you send them right back to me./A lonely road is a bodyguard/If you really want it to be." song: 'Sleeping In Paris' from the album 'The Wheel'. Rosanne Cash, it seems has been writing forever. The above song was written after the demise of her first marriage. She remembers as a school child writing a sentence and feeling the extraordinary power of words. What she has given us in her memoir is a lifetime of writing that is, indeed, so beautifully written that we are transported. We are taken to her birth which her mother related in detail so many times, Rosanne was unsure that she ever wanted children. Her life in California, the daughter of Johnny Cash and her petite mother, Vivian. Rosanne speaks of her self doubt throughout much of this book, her body, never thin enough, and the ever present shadow of her father. All of this, like most of us, has taken a lifetime of thought and experience to work through. She says at one point, "I worked out a lifetime of self-doubt and musical and emotional vulnerabilities under the spotlight." In time she realized that "the arena I thought was a circus of humiliation actually held half the available light of what was intended for me, for my whole life." What a remarkable paragraph. That this memoir is filled with these kinds of pearls and delectable writing should be enough, but she also graces us with a life to write about. Rosanne lived in California as a child with both parents, but then her father split and moved to Tennessee as his career started to boom. They always had a good relationship, and even though Johnny Cash had his demons he was a wonderfully loving father. Rosanne and her sisters spent time with him every summer and at Christmas. She remembers fondly the peach ice cream he would make on hot evenings, taking everyone to the movies when it was too hot outside to play. Eventually her stepmother, June Carter Cash entered the picture, and Rosanne found another woman to emulate and love. They spent many lovely times at their estate in Jamaica, and it was there that Rosanne discovered one night the overwhelming feeling to move on with life. She resisted singing like her father, the shadow was too large, but singing and writing prose and melodies overtook her, and so she persisted, and year after year she pushed on, finding her own place. A marriage to Rodney Crowell produced three lovely daughters, and she also brought up Hannah, Crowell's daughter from a previous marriage. Although Rosanne is often classified as a country artist, her music draws on many genres, including folk, pop, rock and blues. In the 1980s, she had a string of chart-topping singles, which crossed musical genres and landed on both Country & Western and Top 100 charts. 'Seven Year Ache' was one of her biggest hits. When her marriage to Rodney Crowell ended she moved to New York City, and in 1995 she married John Leventhal, a musician and producer who produced the album 'The Wheel'. They have a son together, Jakob. At one point, Rosanne developed polyps on her vocal cord and could not sing, thus Rosanne picked up her writing career. She wrote her first book to great reviews and continued writing several articles. In 2003 her stepmother, June, and father, Johnny, both died within a short period of time of each other. Her sister, Rosie died. Her mother followed in 2006. What a legacy to be gone within such a few short years. In 2007 Rosanne had brain surgery to correct a malformation that was giving her persistent and blinding headaches. This was a grueling time, but she recovered and continued writing and assembling this memoir that has taken ten years to write. When Rosanne graduated from high school, that summer, her father took her on his bus tour. He discovered that she had a limited knowledge of the old songs, and sat down and wrote down the 100 songs that he felt delineated the times. It is a list of the 100 Folk/Americana songs that she needed to know about. Somehow she picked twelve of the very best, and these suit her to a 'T'. She has made a CD that is pure love and music. She has made these songs her own. 'The List' has been nominated for album of the year. Rosanne Cash's 'Composed' is a perfect title, that is how she has followed her life- in music, from one lyric and song to the next, in life, from one issue to the next, an authentic person. She writes as she lives. She tells us "So, in writing this in nonfiction and a memoir, I felt a responsibility to be true to the facts as I remembered them. And you know there is melody in prose. It's more subtle, but it's there. So I was always trying to find the melody." Rosanne's eulogies for her stepmother, June, and her father, John, are so ephemeral and poignant, that a tear or two are bound to slide down your cheeks. What Rosanne Cash brings to her memoir, with her prose and melodies are the beauty, fire and the stuff of dreams. Addendum: Publishers Weekly chose her memoir as one of the top non-fiction books of the year! 11-18-10

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    I had never heard of Rosanne Cash, and certainly had no idea she was remotely famous as a musician; my in-house librarian just brought it home thinking my fondness for Johnny Cash might spill over to her life and this book. I did enjoy learning a bit more about Johnny and his family. (With apologies to Rosanne, I'm afraid I didn't stay all that interested in *her* life, which is her cross to bear, I suppose.) For the first 75 pages or so I had no idea why anyone was reading this book and praisin I had never heard of Rosanne Cash, and certainly had no idea she was remotely famous as a musician; my in-house librarian just brought it home thinking my fondness for Johnny Cash might spill over to her life and this book. I did enjoy learning a bit more about Johnny and his family. (With apologies to Rosanne, I'm afraid I didn't stay all that interested in *her* life, which is her cross to bear, I suppose.) For the first 75 pages or so I had no idea why anyone was reading this book and praising it, but it sorta grew on me in the 10 pages at a time I devoted to it. What to me initially felt a bit like excessive namedropping and random bragging I came to realize is just her odd celebrity-filled musician's life, but her need to fill me in on the life outcome of every person she's ever known was excessive. And I know it's a memoir, but even so it often felt solipsistic. The book has compelling moments and a few lovely phrases, but I didn't find the writing to be as amazing or lyrical as other reviewers seem to. The memoir's organization is a bit choppy--as I wrote this it reminded me of waves, crashing with stories, back and forward in time again and again, so maybe she intended that as the ocean is, for her, something of a totem. But to this landlubber, the stories often felt disjointed, and not in a cool postmodern way. She includes the eulogies she wrote for several relatives' funerals, and somehow that was my favorite part of the book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kerry Dunn

    Gee, I'm really not sure how I feel about this book. It's a memoir but she never seems to delve deep enough into her own life. It all feels like surface. Impressions. Feelings. There are big ideas here about art and grief and living an independent life, but it just never connected for me. The part of the book I enjoyed the most was her eulogy to June Carter Cash. That was truly beautiful and touching. Near the end when she writes about her traumatic brain surgery I was disappointed in her attitu Gee, I'm really not sure how I feel about this book. It's a memoir but she never seems to delve deep enough into her own life. It all feels like surface. Impressions. Feelings. There are big ideas here about art and grief and living an independent life, but it just never connected for me. The part of the book I enjoyed the most was her eulogy to June Carter Cash. That was truly beautiful and touching. Near the end when she writes about her traumatic brain surgery I was disappointed in her attitude about it. She has a platform where she could help other sufferers and she defiantly chooses not to. In the end I don't think I would recommend this memoir to anyone unless they are already a devoted fan.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rene Saller

    Such a wonderful memoir--intimate without seeming exhibitionistic, well-written but not in a preeningly "poetic" way, perceptive, compassionate, and wise. I read Cash's collection of short stories several years ago and thought it was excellent; this memoir is even better. If I have to quibble, I'll note that there were times when the unpredictable, possibly intuitive arrangement of the material became needlessly confusing. (I don't know why, but there's some kind of new rule in publishing whereb Such a wonderful memoir--intimate without seeming exhibitionistic, well-written but not in a preeningly "poetic" way, perceptive, compassionate, and wise. I read Cash's collection of short stories several years ago and thought it was excellent; this memoir is even better. If I have to quibble, I'll note that there were times when the unpredictable, possibly intuitive arrangement of the material became needlessly confusing. (I don't know why, but there's some kind of new rule in publishing whereby biographers can't present information chronologically anymore.) Rather than being arranged topically, as with Mary McCarthy's memoir, Cash's memory-essays seem ordered in an almost stream of consciousness way, even though the language itself, the individual sentences, are admirably precise. I look forward to the next autobiographical installments Cash promises. (With any luck, she'll crank them out a bit faster than Dylan's Chronicles project has been going.) Listening to Cash read the audiobook is a real pleasure. As a longtime Rosanne Cash fan, I know her singing voice so well that it felt like listening to an old friend. At a few junctures, as when she talked about the deaths of her parents and stepmother, her voice seemed to tremble slightly, as if she could have been crying. But she holds it together, yet another reason that her title, Composed, was so perfectly chosen. It's about songwriting and one artist's creative development, but it's also about learning to adapt to life's challenges without totally losing your shit.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Yaaresse

    Had it not been for Cash appearing on the On Being podcast and showing herself not only to be intelligent, articulate and thoughtful, but also a bit of a geek, I would probably never have checked out this book. Bios and memoirs of musicians or actors (or, really, anyone still alive) just isn't my thing. I like her music well enough, but the interview with On Being downplayed the "famous family" angle and played up the angle of someone who is curious about everything from Jung to quantum physics Had it not been for Cash appearing on the On Being podcast and showing herself not only to be intelligent, articulate and thoughtful, but also a bit of a geek, I would probably never have checked out this book. Bios and memoirs of musicians or actors (or, really, anyone still alive) just isn't my thing. I like her music well enough, but the interview with On Being downplayed the "famous family" angle and played up the angle of someone who is curious about everything from Jung to quantum physics and would much rather talk about those than about her fame. Rosann Cash is her own person, one who took a long time to figure that out for herself, and she's not into dishing the dirt on her famous family. She admits that she's a big fan of privacy and it took her years to figure out how to do what she loved (songwriting and signing) while minimizing her exposure to the public eye. I find this a plus; apparently, others find it a negative. Like I said, I'm not into fangirling anyone just because they happen to be famous. The book is deceptive. There are points where you think "OK, she's just recounting stuff she did -- sometimes in weirdly shallow-seeming detail -- not all that fascinating." Then, suddenly, she heads for deep water and you realize that all that extraneous description was to bring you into the scene before she goes into what's really on her mind: loss, love, grief, the creative process, owning up to the stupid things you thought were smart at the time and the smart things you thought were stupid at the time, how figuring out what we are isn't something that has a deadline, postcards from the future and voices from the past. There is no great point to the book, no ax to grind or self-congratulations to parade; it's more like a late night conversation with someone who can laugh at herself and be a little in awe of how things seem to fall into place in spite of all our fumbling and well-meaning mistakes.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Lovely little memoir from one of my most beloved country musicians-- though I hasten to add that you don't particularly have to enjoy, or even know, Cash's music to be charmed by this book. Actually, those looking for behind-the-scenes discussions of the recordings themselves are those most likely to be disappointed; Cash talks just a bit about the conditions surrounding some of here albums, perhaps more than a bit about the three biggies (King's Record Shop, Interiors, Black Cadillac), but ther Lovely little memoir from one of my most beloved country musicians-- though I hasten to add that you don't particularly have to enjoy, or even know, Cash's music to be charmed by this book. Actually, those looking for behind-the-scenes discussions of the recordings themselves are those most likely to be disappointed; Cash talks just a bit about the conditions surrounding some of here albums, perhaps more than a bit about the three biggies (King's Record Shop, Interiors, Black Cadillac), but there's very little here in terms of discussion of specific songs and their origins, technical details of the recordings, etc. Actually, there's also very little of the kind of tabloid-ish fare one might expect; Cash is someone who intensely values her privacy, and as such the book is very elegantly crafted to focus on important themes and life-long, interior monologues as opposed to, say, the dirty laundry of her failed marriage to Rodney Crowell, which she talks about but not really with any specificity. Instead the book offers some really wonderful insights on parenting, creativity, and grief; for the latter, I note that Cash includes the full text of the eulogies she delivered for her father, mother, and step-mother June, at least one of which made me awfully misty-eyed. Some humorous stories here, and, as an added bonus, a very complimentary name-check to my main man Joe Henry.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anne Jordan-Baker

    This is probably the most interesting autobiography I've read, full of strange and fascinating language. I am in love with the paragraph that starts with, "If Magritte had painted my childhood...." A very interesting way to sum up her most memorable childhood images. Brilliant and breathtaking.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Scott Hitchcock

    Parts were interesting but overall it was very dry and hopped all over the place with a rambling style.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    It's not surprising that Rosanne Cash is a good writer. As a musician, composer and lyricist, she has honed these skills nearly all of her life. And, it didn't hurt that she's got some pretty powerful genes coming from, not only her famous father, but also her less well-known mother. Ms. Cash's ability to relate family and relationship dynamics is paramount in this book. And she does it without judgement, but rather as a seasoned observer. Both the dysfunctional and the exemplary models are desc It's not surprising that Rosanne Cash is a good writer. As a musician, composer and lyricist, she has honed these skills nearly all of her life. And, it didn't hurt that she's got some pretty powerful genes coming from, not only her famous father, but also her less well-known mother. Ms. Cash's ability to relate family and relationship dynamics is paramount in this book. And she does it without judgement, but rather as a seasoned observer. Both the dysfunctional and the exemplary models are described in detail with crisp clarity, but also with profound compassion. Speaking of her parents, "The emotional debris field between them after thirteen years was enormous, too immense for them to cross toward each other..." Speaking of the death of her father, "In the months since my father's passing I had come to understand the the loss of a parent expands you - - or shrinks you, as the case may be - - according to your own nature. If too much business is left unfinished, and guilt and regret take hold deep in the soul, mourning begins to diminish you, to constrict the heart, to truncate the vision of your own future, and to narrow the creative potential of the mind and spirit. If enough has been resolved - - not everything, for everything will never be done, but just enough - - then deep grief begins to transform the inner landscape, and space opens inside. you begin to realize that everyone has a tragedy, and that if he doesn't, he will. you recognize how much is hidden behind the small courtesies and civilities of everyday existence. Deep sorrow and traces of great loss run through everyone's ives, and yet they let others step into the elevator first, wave them ahead in a line of traffic, smile and greet their children and inquire about their lives, and never let on for a second that they, too, have cried until it seemed impossible that one person could hold so many tears, that they, too, keep a picture of someone locked in their heart and bring it out in quiet, solitary moments to caress and remember. Loss is the great unifier, the terrible club to which we all eventually belong. Her personal and professional challenges are related with prose that is not verbose or trite, but, rather deep and moving. I had not been aware of the health challenges she faced in 2007, undergoing brain surgery for a rare condition called: Chiari I malformation. The journey she traveled towards recovery is fascinating as relates to her changed sensory perceptions and motivations as an artist. And, finally, speaking of Art and her own personal spirituality: "We all need art and music like we need blood and oxygen. The more exploitative, numbing, and assaulting popular culture becomes, the more we need the truth of a beautifully phrased song, dredged from a real person's depth of experience, delivered in an honest voice; the more we need the simplicity of paint on canvas, or the art of a lonely body in the air, or the photographer's unflinching eye Art, in the larger sense, is the lifeline to which I cling in a confusing, unfair, sometimes dehumanizing world. In my childhood, the nuns and priests insisted, sometimes in a shrill and punitive tone, that religion was where God resided and where I might find transcendence. i was afraid they were correct for so many years, and that I was the one at fault for not being able to navigate the circuitry of dogma and ritual. For me, it turned out to be a decoy, a mirage framed in sound and fury. Art and music have proven to be more expansive, more forgiving, and more immediately alive For me, art is a more trustworthy expression of God than religion." Highly recommended. Also her album, "The List" which is an excerpt of 12 songs from a list of 100 that her father gave her when she was touring him with 18. Songs that he felt she should know and master if she wanted to truly be a country singer.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kyli

    I was planning on giving this book 3 stars until I got to page 224 and read this: "I adamantly refuse to join any community that identifies itself by an illness. This idea of becoming a spokesperson for this condition, which I was asked to do before the staples were even out of my head, was appalling to me, and entirely against my nature and sense of privacy - I was not inclined to trade publicly on anything related to my health or body, even, unfortunately in the service of others who suffe I was planning on giving this book 3 stars until I got to page 224 and read this: "I adamantly refuse to join any community that identifies itself by an illness. This idea of becoming a spokesperson for this condition, which I was asked to do before the staples were even out of my head, was appalling to me, and entirely against my nature and sense of privacy - I was not inclined to trade publicly on anything related to my health or body, even, unfortunately in the service of others who suffer with the same disease. . While I've always been a fan of Johnny Cash (who isn't?), I admit that what encouraged me to buy this book was the fact that Rosanne and I both have the health condition she mentioned above: Chiari Malformation. Before I review the writing itself, I just have to mention that, up until I read those sentences above, I found myself thinking "This woman seems like somebody I could be friends with. She's so intelligent, insightful, and doesn't seem to be phased by her fame." I totally understand Cash's desire to keep her health private - dealing with this condition for over a decade, I understand that its not something you really feel like sharing, nonetheless, drawing attention to. I also understand that she isn't obligated to be a part of the community or to advocate for the illness, but perhaps she doesn't realize the deep struggles many people with this condition face and the disastrous results of inadequate treatment and lack of awareness. I know people who've died of Chiari Malformation and many of them would probably still be alive today had they been diagnosed and treated earlier. Cash, whether she likes it or not, is in a position where she could spread awareness and not just change, but save lives. However, in those few sentences, she conveyed a selfishness and a lack of compassion, that quite frankly, shocks me. I can't imagine experiencing these symptoms PLUS the actual brain surgery and not feeling like you want to help others in the same situation. I know a lot of people in the online community - they're extremely sick people, who don't identify as an "illness", but instead try to triumph through their symptoms the best that they can. They would give anything to have an outlet to spread awareness about Chiari, but they don't have one. They're not famous. What a shame. Really. As far as the writing goes, I, too, felt that it was disorganized and a bit too time-liney for my taste. She's definitely a talented writer and an intelligent woman; very articulate and deep. I enjoyed some of the more emotional stories (like the one about the lady they picked up on the side of the road) and like others said, the funeral speeches towards the end - the one about June was really beautiful. I think it may have held my attention better if I was involved in the music industry; there were parts about the recording process that I felt like skipping over. I had a hard time staying interested at times. Overall, I wouldn't recommend it, but then again maybe I'm biased after those comments she made.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    I saw the movie "Walk the Line", but the film did not portray the rich and wonderful relationship Johnny Cash had with his oldest daughter that comes through in this book. Johnny Cash is constantly there for her, as a father, mentor and friend. 2010 seems to have been the year of the singer memoir. Of ones by women that I've read "Between a Heart and a Rock Place: A Memoir", "Lips Unsealed: A Memoir", "Just Kids" and now "Composed", the life stories are very different. While Smith's book is limit I saw the movie "Walk the Line", but the film did not portray the rich and wonderful relationship Johnny Cash had with his oldest daughter that comes through in this book. Johnny Cash is constantly there for her, as a father, mentor and friend. 2010 seems to have been the year of the singer memoir. Of ones by women that I've read "Between a Heart and a Rock Place: A Memoir", "Lips Unsealed: A Memoir", "Just Kids" and now "Composed", the life stories are very different. While Smith's book is limited to her early years in New York with Robert Mapplethorpe, it shows the early stages of her career as a poet/song writer. Of the group, Pat Benetar's experience comes the closest to Rosanne's in that they both came from loving families, had first marriages that ended without a mess and then both fell in love with and married their producers. Neither is associated with drugs or scandal. Rosanne's story still stands far apart from Pat's and farther from the others. The difference being her famous mentor. Rosanne got a job with CBS without a resume or interview. Through her father she had contacts throughout the music industry. Her demos were listened to asap. A record contract was obtained with ease. She's has career ups and downs, but life's problems for Rosanne have been primarily loss and health. Throughout you can see how close she is to her parents and step parents. Her relationship with her famous father dominates the book even when it is not about him. 2003 was a striking year for Rosanne. It is hard to imagine so much loss in one year. Her 2007 brain operation shows incredible resiliency of both herself and her marriage. While the story jumps chronologically, the writing is clear and very readable. It's a very positive book. I recommend it for fans of Rosanne, Johnny and June.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    I'm not entirely sure what I expected from Composed, but I picked it up with a vague idea in mind of learning more about Johnny & June Carter Cash from the perspective of one of their children. I was wrong, and I was pleasantly surprised. Composed primarily tells the story of her professional development, as it was affected by her childhood, adolescence, and her non-professional adult life. While it contains some wonderful notes about her parents & stepparents, it is first and foremost a story o I'm not entirely sure what I expected from Composed, but I picked it up with a vague idea in mind of learning more about Johnny & June Carter Cash from the perspective of one of their children. I was wrong, and I was pleasantly surprised. Composed primarily tells the story of her professional development, as it was affected by her childhood, adolescence, and her non-professional adult life. While it contains some wonderful notes about her parents & stepparents, it is first and foremost a story of Roseann Cash making her own career outside the rather substantial shadow of her family's musical legacy. My only major complaint about the book is that there were times where I felt that something important was being left out, or not told in as great detail as I would have preferred. Of course, its entirely up to the author how much of their personal life they choose to reveal in their memoirs (and Ms. Cash reveals quite a few personal bits), but I sometimes found myself thinking, "She's gone this far, why not a little farther?" All in all though, an intriguing read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    George

    ENTERTAINING BUT SAD. “Loss is the great unifier, the terrible club to which we all eventually belong.” ― Rosanne Cash, Composed: A Memoir There’s an awful lot about loss in this book, COMPOSED: A Memoir, by Rosanne Cash. In fact, her eulogy of her step-mom, June Carter Cash, was the most interesting, one of the most poignant passages of her tale. It is amazing all the things that happen to people in the course of a lifetime. Some uplifting, some tragic. On balance it would seem that Rosanne Cash ENTERTAINING BUT SAD. “Loss is the great unifier, the terrible club to which we all eventually belong.” ― Rosanne Cash, Composed: A Memoir There’s an awful lot about loss in this book, COMPOSED: A Memoir, by Rosanne Cash. In fact, her eulogy of her step-mom, June Carter Cash, was the most interesting, one of the most poignant passages of her tale. It is amazing all the things that happen to people in the course of a lifetime. Some uplifting, some tragic. On balance it would seem that Rosanne Cash has lived a pretty full and enjoyable life—but not without a lot of hard work and more than her share of grief and pain. Recommendation: Johnny Cash was a legend when I was a teenager. Any stories of his time, life and/or family are of interest. If you share my enthusiasm, you’ll be glad you read/listened to this momoir. “I have learned to be steady in my course of love, or fear, or loneliness, rather than impulsive in its wasting, either lyrically or emotionally.” ― Rosanne Cash, Composed: A Memoir OverDrive MP3 edition, 7 hours, 5 minutes

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie G.

    Not a lot to say about Cash's book. I am a fan of her music, and that of the Rodney Crowell. Johnny Cash, and to a lesser extent the Carter Family. It's an interesting road Cash has taken, and I was pleased to hear about her formative experiences as a musician, and about the dynamic of this well known family. I somehow came away from this wanting more information about all of it. Her family, her time in England, her marriage to Crowell. Though she is very up front about what happened in her life Not a lot to say about Cash's book. I am a fan of her music, and that of the Rodney Crowell. Johnny Cash, and to a lesser extent the Carter Family. It's an interesting road Cash has taken, and I was pleased to hear about her formative experiences as a musician, and about the dynamic of this well known family. I somehow came away from this wanting more information about all of it. Her family, her time in England, her marriage to Crowell. Though she is very up front about what happened in her life, there is not a lot about repercussions for her or her family (other than the death of her father, she is frank about the fallout from that.) I am no stalker, I don't like tell-alls, but there was an emotional remove to this that made it hard to love. So this was good, and recommended, but ultimately not as satisfying as I had hoped.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Having just finished Rodney Crowell's Chinaberry Sidewalks, reading the memoir of his former wife seemed fitting. They were both very respectful of each other. Neither book is a trashy "tell-all" meant for the National Enquirer's readership. While I connected with Crowell's book culturally, I read Cash's book with the enthusiasm of one who's found a new friend who "gets it." Cash's Nashville pedigree provides her with amazing experiences, but its her introspection and sojourner's spirit that prov Having just finished Rodney Crowell's Chinaberry Sidewalks, reading the memoir of his former wife seemed fitting. They were both very respectful of each other. Neither book is a trashy "tell-all" meant for the National Enquirer's readership. While I connected with Crowell's book culturally, I read Cash's book with the enthusiasm of one who's found a new friend who "gets it." Cash's Nashville pedigree provides her with amazing experiences, but its her introspection and sojourner's spirit that provide her with material and intelligence. Hers is a tale of growing up while navigating a complex and compelling interior life and searching for the words, the method, of communicating longing and lessons learned.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Cash is likeable and a great storyteller. I enjoyed getting to know more about her and her friends and family. She's very upfront about her family's history of substance abuse, and she writes about heartbreak and pain very beautifully. I felt that she treaded too lightly over her divorce from Rodney Crowell - she details the hurt she felt, but never explains why. In general, there were other relationships that I wanted to hear more about (like with her step-family and June Carter). Also, the book Cash is likeable and a great storyteller. I enjoyed getting to know more about her and her friends and family. She's very upfront about her family's history of substance abuse, and she writes about heartbreak and pain very beautifully. I felt that she treaded too lightly over her divorce from Rodney Crowell - she details the hurt she felt, but never explains why. In general, there were other relationships that I wanted to hear more about (like with her step-family and June Carter). Also, the book isn't written chronologically, which made it tough to follow in places. Overall, worth a read to find out more about one of country music's most prominent families.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Scottsdale Public Library

    A beautifully written memoir by Rosanne Cash, the famous singer and daughter of Johnny Cash, that covers everything from her parents painful split when she was a child, to touring with her father and launching her own career as a young adult, to living in New York on 9/11 and her recent brain surgery. Lush with stories and sneek peeks into the lives of the Cash and Carter families and other Country greats this is a must read for music lovers! -Lindsey D.- A beautifully written memoir by Rosanne Cash, the famous singer and daughter of Johnny Cash, that covers everything from her parents painful split when she was a child, to touring with her father and launching her own career as a young adult, to living in New York on 9/11 and her recent brain surgery. Lush with stories and sneek peeks into the lives of the Cash and Carter families and other Country greats this is a must read for music lovers! -Lindsey D.-

  22. 4 out of 5

    Erika Marks

    A lovingly and beautifully written memoir, understated and powerful, Ms. Cash shares, and often with aching honesty, pieces of her life and her passions. She reserves falling into tabloid confessions in private matters, which only serves to give more power to the sections of the book that address the intimacies of her music and her sometimes challenging, but always tender, relationship with her father. There are frequent distillations of her songs and how she came to shape the lyrics, which is e A lovingly and beautifully written memoir, understated and powerful, Ms. Cash shares, and often with aching honesty, pieces of her life and her passions. She reserves falling into tabloid confessions in private matters, which only serves to give more power to the sections of the book that address the intimacies of her music and her sometimes challenging, but always tender, relationship with her father. There are frequent distillations of her songs and how she came to shape the lyrics, which is especially fascinating to read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Rosanne Cash's interview on Gretchen Rubin's Happier podcast is what led me to Composed. I had never been particularly interested in Rosanne or her dad (although, years ago, I was riveted by the movie, Walk the Line), but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I recommend listening to the audiobook so you can hear Rosanne's memoir in her own voice, occasionally accompanied by original music from her husband, John Leventhal. Beautiful.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Louise Turner

    A beautiful memoir. Roseanne Cash is not only a songwriter, but a gifted and eloquent writer of books as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this. While not glossing over some of the problems of her life such as the divorce of her parents and her father's struggle with addiction she is not into placing blame. Her love and respect for her parents, including her stepmother, are apparent.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    A view into a family from poor origins dealing with fame through two generations. Roseanne's unique way of coping with growing up in the shadow of her father and stepmother is not a linear path. Her persistence and honesty are admirable Maybe TMI at times.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Evi

    Found this book at a used book sale. Since I'm a fan of country music and always enjoyed listening to her father's music, it was a safe buy. Nothing special, but I enjoyed the book and the little inside stories about the Cash family.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn (in SC) C234D

    Rosanne Cash is a wonderful writer. Enjoyed this book very much. It’s not a linear account, but wanders around a bit. Terrific anecdotes. It’s interesting to read how different a creative, artistic person reacts to life. 9/10.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brent

    I love reading this lyrical book by a favorite author of great songs. Highly recommended!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    I really don't know why but I was disappointed in this book. It just didn't appeal to me but I did finish it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Well Read Southerner Blog

    Recently I listened to the Garden & Gun magazine podcast Whole Hog. It was episode 3 of season 2 and was entitled "Rosanne Cash's Arrow to the South" and host John Huey speaks with Cash about storytelling; the influence of her father, Johnny Cash; speaking up politically; and the ability of songs to mean something different to each listener. They also discussed her memoir, Composed, so I checked it out at the library. I'm a faithful listener of this podcast. Frankly, I could listen to John Huey,  Recently I listened to the Garden & Gun magazine podcast Whole Hog. It was episode 3 of season 2 and was entitled "Rosanne Cash's Arrow to the South" and host John Huey speaks with Cash about storytelling; the influence of her father, Johnny Cash; speaking up politically; and the ability of songs to mean something different to each listener. They also discussed her memoir, Composed, so I checked it out at the library. I'm a faithful listener of this podcast. Frankly, I could listen to John Huey, Former editor-in-chief, Time Inc., read the back of a shampoo bottle. I love his voice. But more importantly, I love the questions he asks of guests with a way of opening a dialogue that makes you realize you never thought of something that way before. I follow Rosanne on Twitter. I've read her New York Times opinion piece and am totally in agreement with her dislike of Trump. Is hatred of him too strong a word? I don't think so. I also read the two articles in Rolling Stone magazine about the use of her dad's name on a tee shirt worn by a Neo-Nazi and a white nationalist radio show. I applaud her for standing up for that nonsense. There was some of the book that I didn't really know a lot about what she was talking about in regards to the music industry such as mixing music, being in the studio, etc. But that didn't matter much. I enjoyed reading about her life in trying to be independent of the large effect her father's life and influence had on her. But, If I'm honest I'll tell you that I never really listened to that much of Roseanne's music. Oh, I remember her hits from the 80s and 90s and liked them and have them downloaded to my iPhone but I'm talking about her other music. The music she writes about that changed her life in her book. That's the music I haven't heard. Those are the lyrics that haven't spoken to me as they spoken to her. But now, after reading her memoir, I want to listen. I want to hear the words that made her write so eloquently in her book that moved me to tears. Words that hit me in my heart such as the ones quoted below. Words that I could have sworn I wrote myself. "It was never too late to undo who you had become." "I have taken every sorrow in my life to the ocean - the deaths of my parents, my grandparent, my aunts and uncles, friends who died untimely deaths, my stepsister Rosey, and my best friend from eighth grade, the baby that never came to term, the broken relationships, divorce, the terror of the addictions of those I love - I have taken all of it to the sea. I have performed many rituals of release while immersed in salt water or walking on the shore. The ocean, for me, is what those in a twelve-step programs call a Higher Power." "We all need art and music like we need blood and oxygen. The more exploitative, numbing, and assaulting popular culture become, the more we need the truth of a beautifully phrased song, dredged from a real person's depth of experience, delivered in an honest voice, the more we need the simplicity of paint on canvas, or the arc of a lonely body in the air, or the photographer's unflinching eye. Art, in the larger sense, is the lifeline to which I cling to in a confusing, unfair, sometimes dehumanizing world. In my childhood, the nuns and priests insisted, sometimes in a shrill and punitive tone, that religion was where God resided and where I might find transcendence. I was afraid that they were correct for so many years, and that I was the one at fault for not being able to navigate the circuitry of dogma and ritual. For me, it turned out to be a decoy, a mirage framed in sound and fury. Art and music have proven to be more expansive, more forgiving, and more immediately alive. For me, art is a more trust-worthy expression of God than religion."

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