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Roseanne Cash Plays Not My Job


So on our Summer Pleasures show we've done baseball, beer, thrillers and movies. Bill, what's missing?

BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: Our clothes. All we're missing is our clothes.

SAGAL: Tunes, Bill, tunes. What's summer without some music? So here's somebody who's both a legend and the daughter of a legend, Rosanne Cash, who we spoke to back in July of 2011.

ROSEANNE CASH: Thank you. Hi, Peter.


SAGAL: Great to have you.


SAGAL: So we did, you know, some research - 'cause, you know, we do that. We do research. And we went to your website. And this is the entirety of your official bio. It says, Rosanne Cash keeps her head down and shows up for work. That's it.

CASH: (Laughter). Well, that pretty much says it, doesn't it?

SAGAL: Yeah, it really does. Why are you keeping your head down? Is there anything you don't want to see?

CASH: I keep my head down because, I mean, that was a reference to people always referring to my dad. And if you just keep showing up, you know - my dad told me one time somebody came up to him and said, are you Rosanne Cash's dad?

SAGAL: (Laughter).

CASH: So that's one to eight million.


SAGAL: Yeah. Well, let's get right to it, then. That must have been tough. I mean, tell us about your decision to go into music - 'cause obviously your father, one of the seminal figures of American music - ever. Did you feel like you had to deal with the expectations that you were, you know, Johnny Cash's daughter? That maybe you were just, you know...

CASH: Sure. And I probably pushed away a bit too hard but, you know, not any more than any other young person in their 20s, and their parent is successful and you want to do it on your own. You know, I think we all go through that to some extent.

SAGAL: Now, teenage girls, in general, are embarrassed by their parents.

CASH: (Laughter). Yeah.

SAGAL: You joined your dad's road show for two years when you graduated high school?

CASH: I did.

SAGAL: Was it hard to be embarrassed by your dad, even though he was literally the coolest man in the entire world?


CASH: (Laughter). I was never embarrassed by him. He - you know, he made a duet. He did a duet with Bob Dylan when I was 14 years old. You can't get embarrassed after that.


CASH: It's over.

SAGAL: Really? Well, was it weird touring around the country with your father?

CASH: No. You know, he was really funny in that way. He really - he liked getting to a new hotel and seeing if there was chocolate. He said he just loved to know what the amenities were in the next hotel.


CASH: He made it fun on the road. It was a great time.

SAGAL: That's a positive attitude.


CASH: It is a positive...

LUKE BURBANK: I had no idea I had so much in common with Johnny Cash.


CARL KASELL, BYLINE: I can just see Johnny Cash coming in and checking out the shampoo. Look at it.


KASELL: It's a separate shampoo and conditioner.


CASH: He had a very child-like spirit in all things.

SAGAL: There's a connection, of course, to your father in your last - in your latest album, "The List," which is pretty great. And this relates to a moment you had with your father, right?

CASH: Yeah. When I went on that tour you were just mentioning, he sat in the back of the tour bus and spent the afternoon making this list for me of what he called, one hundred essential country songs. And I had the good sense to hold onto that list. I didn't really think about it. I just kept moving it around wherever I went in a box of letters. And then, you know, when he passed away, I started thinking about it. In that same way, like, your mother leaves you a recipe, and you don't care about it until she's gone.

SAGAL: Right. Did you understand what he meant by this?

CASH: Oh, yes. I wanted that information.

SAGAL: Yeah.

CASH: And also, you know, I knew he was giving me himself - not just the list, but saying, this is my deepest soul right here.

SAGAL: Right. And did your father ever work with you when you were starting to write songs? Did you ever, like, show him your songs, and get his input? - 'cause that would be totally intimidating to me.

CASH: Yeah, but - well, but it was just in a parental way. He would say everything I did was great, like any good parent does.


CASH: And it was terrible.

SAGAL: Oh, wait a minute. Are we supposed to do that?


CASH: Well, apparently...

SAGAL: Hang on; I got to make a phone call.


SAGAL: So your book - you're out with a new book, a memoir called "Composed."

CASH: Yes.

SAGAL: And now you're an author, on tour, promoting your book. How does that compare with being a musician on tour? How do authors trash their hotel rooms?


CASH: Well, you know, the dressing rooms are a lot cleaner for authors.

SAGAL: Really?

CASH: Yeah. You know, no sound check, no filthy dressing room, no cranky musicians, no feedback. It's kind of nice.


CASH: It's a civilized world.

SAGAL: Really? But how are the groupies?

CASH: The same.


SAGAL: So Rosanne, I know you have kids of your own and that some of them are grown. And some of them, at least, have gone into music too, right?

CASH: My middle daughter is a musician, Chelsea Crowell. She just released her first record.

SAGAL: Oh, wow.

CASH: Yeah.

SAGAL: Congratulations.

CASH: Yeah.

SAGAL: That's pretty exciting. And did she come to you and talk to you in the way that you went to your father?

CASH: No, she doesn't want to know anything. She's just like I was. The only thing she's ever asked me was a really technical thing about a tuning.

SAGAL: Really?

CASH: That's it.

SAGAL: Are you ever insulted? Are you like, oh, here...

CASH: No, actually, no, you know, she did say, mom, how can I become successful without getting famous? - which is exactly the question I asked.

SAGAL: Really? You asked your father? And what was the answer he gave you?

CASH: He said, I'm the wrong person to ask.


SAGAL: And what did you say to your daughter?

CASH: I'm the wrong person to ask.

SAGAL: Yeah.


CASH: You know, how can she be herself? She's got the weight of two generations in back of her...

SAGAL: That's true.

CASH: Of songwriters. She's got to do it. I totally understand.

SAGAL: Did you make a list like your father did?

CASH: She asked for it. That's the one thing she did ask for.

SAGAL: Oh. And what'd you write down.

CASH: And she said email doesn't count.


SAGAL: Oh, so you had to write it down?

CASH: I have to write it down.

SAGAL: And have you done it yet?

CASH: I've started it. I take that very seriously.

SAGAL: Can you tell me what is on it?

CASH: I'm not going to tell you my list before I tell my own daughter.


CASH: I mean, Peter, I really like you, but...


SAGAL: Anyway, no. We are delighted to have you with us. We've asked you here, Rosanne Cash, to play a game we're calling...

KASELL: Man, you sing a lot better now than you did at that Padres game.

SAGAL: Carl is expressing surprise because obviously he's confused you with another Roseanne.


CASH: Oh, my god.


SAGAL: Roseanne Barr, of course. She famously butchered the National Anthem at a Padres baseball game. So inspired by his mistake, we're going to ask you three questions about the other Roseanne, Roseanne Barr. Get two right, you'll win our prize for our listeners, Carl's voice on their home answering machine or voicemail. Carl, who is Rosanne Cash playing for?

KASELL: Rosanne is playing for Leslie Hornig of Chicago.

SAGAL: All right, ready to play Rosanne?

CASH: May I apologize to Leslie in advance?


SAGAL: That's a tactic often used around here to little avail. Here we go. First question, Roseanne's image was pretty much set when she divorced her husband to marry Tom Arnold, and at their wedding Tom made what announcement to the media? Was it A - we're just hoping to live a quiet life and devote ourselves to good works? B - I think this marriage is going to last at least a couple of years? Or C - we're America's worst nightmare, white trash with money?


CASH: I think he said, we're your worst nightmare.

SAGAL: That's what he said.


SAGAL: He said we're America's worst nightmare.


SAGAL: White trash with money. And lo, so it came to pass.


SAGAL: Next question, Roseanne did divorce Mr. Arnold in a few years, as she did a number of husbands. But all is well now. In fact, one of her ex-husbands now does what for a living? A - he works, along with his new wife, as Roseanne's personal assistants. B - he's the manager of a pub called The Roseanne Barr?


SAGAL: Or C - he is married, in Las Vegas, to a Roseanne Barr impersonator?

CASH: He has the Roseanne Barr?

SAGAL: I'm sorry, he has the - is that your guess?

CASH: Yes.

SAGAL: That he owns the Roseanne Barr?

CASH: Yes.

SAGAL: No, I'm afraid not. He actually works with his wife as Roseanne's personal assistant.

CASH: Oh, I should have known that.


SAGAL: Why in the world should you have known that?


SAGAL: You have lived your life in a far more useful, productive way than to know anything about that. I just want to say. All right, here's your last question. If you get this right, you still win. Eleven years after her top-rated sitcom "Roseanne" went off the air, Roseanne Barr is making a triumphant return to television this summer in what vehicle? A - "My Daughter Roseanne," in which she plays a 12-year-old with a rare disease that makes her look like she's 57 and Roseanne Barr?


SAGAL: B - "Roseanne's Nuts," a reality show about her macadamia nut farm in Hawaii. Or C - "Roseanne's Idol," in which Roseanne teaches amateur singers her particular methods?


CASH: I know the answer to this because Sandra Bernhard is my very good friend.


CASH: And she just did the macadamia nuts show.

SAGAL: Yes, you're right.


SAGAL: It's on Lifetime.


SAGAL: You can enjoy it. There it is.

CASH: Oh my god, Peter, I was more nervous about this quiz than about opening at Lincoln Center, I swear.

SAGAL: Really?


SAGAL: Carl, how did Rosanne Cash do on our quiz?

KASELL: Rosanne Cash had two correct answers, Peter, so she wins for Leslie Hornig.

CASH: Yay.


SAGAL: Rosanne Cash is an award-winning singer-songwriter and the author of the memoir "Composed." It's out in paperback. Rosanne Cash, what a pleasure to talk to you.


SAGAL: That wraps it up for our Summer Pleasures show. Support from NPR comes from NPR stations and Progressive Insurance, helping people show for car insurance at 1-800-PROGRESSIVE and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives, on the web at And Carmax, offering more than 35,000 used cars and trucks, online and in stores from coast to coast. Learn more at Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.