Rosanne Cash and Carlene Carter are inexorably linked. Aside from being step-sisters, they come from two of Country music's most revered families. One could argue that the Carter Family practically invented Country music. Carlene's mother, June, was a key component in the family's musical heritage. Rosanne was no slacker in the family ties arena either. Her father was none other than Johnny Cash.
When Johnny married June (in the '60s), his life partner, Carlene and Rosanne became family. Interesting their careers took such divergent paths.
Carter went the Rockabilly route (close, at least in spirit, to her step-father's career) creating some fun music that sold marginally at best. Even her marriage (and subsequent divorce) from British Rockabilly singer/producer/songwriter Nick Lowe failed to generate much excitement.
Cash didn't really do things differently, but she had a whole lot better result. She married the talented singer/songwriter/producer Rodney Crowell, who had launched his career as a guitarist in Emmylou Harris's Hot Band. He also composed some of her more memorable songs. Interestingly, given that Crowell was such an accomplished songwriter, it was not one of his compositions that gave Cash her first major hit but one she composed herself. "Seven Year Ache," a song of infidelity (his) and regret (hers) scored on both the Country and pop charts. The synth and guitars of the '80 release made Shania Twain possible.
With Crowell producing, Cash gave herself the latitude to go from covering her dad's "Tennessee Flat Top Box" to working with Tom Petty and members of the Heartbreakers on "Never Be You." She even scored a #1 Country hit with a cover of The Beatles" "I Don't Want To Spoil The Party." The Country leaning track was originally released on the B-side of "Eight Days A Week." Good find.
As often happens, the personal has a bearing on the professional. A '90 divorce from Crowell and a dismal, depressing album, "Interiors," caused Cash to focus on raising her kids and writing fiction.
But back in action, Cash issued an '09 covers album "The List" which included a duet with Bruce Springsteen on "Sea Of Heartbreak."
1978 Rosanne Cash
1980 Right Or Wrong
1981 Seven Year Ache
1982 Somewhere in the Stars
1985 Rhythm & Romance
1987 King's Record Shop
1993 The Wheel
1996 10 Song Demo
2003 Rules of Travel
2006 Black Cadillac
2009 The List
2014 The River & The Thread
With the exception of "Interiors" all Cash albums have merit. Cash treads the line between Country, Rock and pop, as well as anybody. Her '79 release "Right Or Wrong" with "Man Smart, Woman Smarter," a "battle of the sexes" song (guess who wins), has undeniable charm. "Seven Year Ache" is also good. Aside from the title track hit there's the funny "My Baby Thinks He's A Train." Two late career efforts are worth picking up, "The King's Record Shop" and the '93 release "The Wheel."