Composed by Rosanne Cash
Rosanne Cash has lived her life peeking from the shadows of her father. In the public’s eye, she will always be Johnny Cash’s kid. And yes, Rosanne’s memoir, Composed is an endearing reminder that she has again followed in her father’s footsteps.
Most don’t think of Johnny Cash as an author, but he did in fact write autobiographies and a hand full of songbooks. Johnny Cash’s mega-stardom leaves Rosanne with no chance of attaining her father’s level of fame, however, Rosanne’s short stories, essays and autobiographical writings are continuing to distinguish Rosanne from her father. Fortunately, Composed is not a memoir solely dealing with her relationship with Jonny Cash (although is obviously contains this). It is rather a book that focuses very closely on herself and her sentiments.
If you’ve read Rosanne’s short stories and essays, you are familiar with her quick-witted, smooth writing style. Much like the sound of her music, Cash’s writing is simple, elegant and effective. Composed is filled with whimsical sentences that are written as more of an instrument of sentiment than actual fact-based story telling. As a child she explains she would, “Nurture magnificent surges of melancholy and longing, which I attempted to turn into bad poetry.” Charming sentences like these pop up throughout the memoir and suggest that Cash is a little more interested in the process of writing than actually getting the facts straight. In fact, the introduction to the book states directly that the memoir is not intended to be a perfectly accurate portrait of her life.
Composed is a mild, cautiously written account of Rosanne’s life from birth to present. Usually autobiographies are most interesting when the writer is living in extreme circumstances, extremely fortunate or extremely victimized. Criminals and billionaires can generally produce a page turning autobiography with little effort because their content is inherently interesting. Cash is far from this extreme persona – sure, we don’t all have the king of country music as a father, but if anything, Composed tells us that Rosanne’s life is not that far from an average upper class family. The bad news is that the reader is left wondering weather Rosanne’s life has actually been ordinary or if she simply held back the grimy content.
Rosanne’s memoir is no tell-all account of her deepest thoughts and emotions. There is little depth when it comes to her divorce, for instance. There is also little talk about her well known distaste for the film, Walk The Line. Issues like these are a must-have for Cash fans. The omission of Rosanne’s deepest emotions leave the reader feeling left out; a little like going to a movie and seeing a two-hour trailer rather than unfiltered narrative. In here lies the main problem with the memoir. It is just as the title suggests, composed.
Rosanne explains that she grew up as a self conscious and curious California girl. She toured with her father after high school, explaining that her fondest memories of him were during this time. She spent six months in Europe, made friends, came back and discovered herself as a songwriter. The things that Rosanne deals with in the memoir are relatable: self-discovery, ambition, family and lost love.
Rosanne writes the memoir as a series of events that eventually boil down to a single theme; Rosanne’s journey to her self-discovery. At 55 years old, Rosanne’s Cash is a talented writer and musician with much unwritten work. Thankfully, Composed leaves the reader with the impression that her journey is far from over.
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