Composed: A Memoir
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Composed: A Memoir

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  959 ratings  ·  222 reviews
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 Californi...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 10th 2010 by Viking Adult (first published April 1st 2010)
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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, Many m...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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 suffer...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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.-

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...more
David Wallis
I was a casual fan of her music, but a huge fan/disciple of her father. So, when I saw this hardcover in the bargain bin at BN for a paltry $2 I picked it up.

I started relistening to her music as I read it and realized she was doing 'adult alternative' before there was such a thing. It was never really about Country with her. Especially that thing that calls itself Country these days.

And SURPRISE her prose is as good, if not better, than her music. She has a great writing voice. She by no means...more
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.
Margaret
As someone exposed to Johnny Cash from the womb, I was thrilled when I saw that his daughter Rosanne had written a memoir. She is a gifted writer and has an eloquent ability to express herself and to draw raw emotions from her readers. She had me in tears on many occasions as I read about her reactions to her parents' deaths. Having lost both of my parents, I learned once again, that grief is universal. I appreciated her insights about other aspects of life, as well. In terms of religion, she an...more
Travis Mcclain
If you're familiar with my reading habits at all, you know that the memoir is my favorite sub-genre. I don't care to follow celebrity gossip or anything so vapid. But when a human being, of any background, really takes the time to put pen to paper and explore the depths of his or her soul--and then courageously offers to share those unflinching reflections--that, to me, is the single most powerful kind of written work there is.

Art is a small world, and I have learned in recent years that you don...more
Dawn
This is definitely one of the better autobiographies I have read, and I have read quite a few. In some, it seems like the author penned the book for the soul purpose of getting a final jab in at someone or to make sure their side is heard (as it seems as though their side will differ greatly from everyone else's). I don't get that from reading this book. Rosanne tells about her life, from being a product of a highly publicized divorce as a child to enduring and living through her family's addict...more
Natalie Tyler
Rosanne Cash, the oldest child of Johnny cash, is 55 years old right now and has had a solid career in what I might call a country/folk/independent crossover style. She has written some excellent songs.

"Composed" is a “memoir” and not an autobiography, so it might defy expectations for those who want a straightforward, chronological listing of events as opposed to a thoughtful rumination about life and loss. The strength of the book is its penetrating thoughtful excavations of memories and its r...more
Linda C
This memoir of Johnny Cash’s oldest daughter included some interesting insights into the music creation process and into the life of a woman living in the shadow of a legend and trying to create her own place.
She was born in Memphis and moved to the desert of California when she was 3. She was the oldest of 4 daughters. She did not like the desert. Her parents divorced when she was twelve; both parents remarried within the year. For most of the California years she saw little of her Dad, who was...more
Judy
Roseanne Cash has a voice all her own. I have been a fan of her songs beginning with her 1993 album, The Wheel. I never listened to her early commercially successful stuff which was mostly Nashville influenced country music. In her memoir I learned that it took her until 1990 to find her true writing voice as a songwriter. Sure enough, that is when her commercial appeal faded away, but also when she began garnering huge critical recognition.

I think she is a better songwriter than prose writer. I...more
Steve lovell
An excellent memoir. This is despite of much that is typical of the genre, particularly for American celebrities, where there is, possibly out of necessity, much self absorption and analysis. On top of that, this one had angels appearing, ghostly visions, 'significant' dreams and, of course, loving lashings of musical anecdote - the latter no bad thing.
As a collector of the legacy of Cash, father and daughter, this did not overly focus on the significant relationship, but the presence of such an...more
Beth Newman
I desperately wanted to like this book, but the best I can muster is 'eh'

I'm a fan of Ms. Cash's music, and I believe she weaves lyrics together beautifully. The writing and the thought process behind her reminiscences, however, felt disjointed at best.

It's her story, so I make no judgment about her revelations (or lack thereof). Many of them were lovely, many of them were sad, yet none of them left me feeling emotionally invested. Ms. Cash states repeatedly that she values her privacy, and that...more
Rhonda
Rosanne's memoir. I've always admired her and her life as the daughter of Johnny Cash. She writes a lot about her mother and their relationship, as well as the relationship with her 'new' family.

Favorite Quotes:

"With time the unbearable becomes shocking, becomes sad, and finally becomes poignant. Or maybe poignancy isn't the conclusion to grief. Maybe there is something beyond poignant that I haven't experienced yet." p 187

"In the months since my father's passing I had come to understand that th...more
Lisa
If I've learned anything from blogging, it's how deceptively difficult it is to write in a clear, casual, voice without falling into being chatty or dry. It's hard work, finding the right tone, and it takes a light touch. Rosanne Cash does a nice job, managing to stay interesting and accessible on topics like family, loss, growing up, the artistic process -- things that can either glaze your eyes over permanently or engage you.

A few days ago I had lunch with a friend who saw the book cover and...more
Fuzzy Gerdes
I've come to Rosanne Cash all backwards. I'm a Johnny Cash fan, I mean how can you not be, but before a few months ago I don't even think I was aware that he had any musician children. Then @rosannecash started showing up in a lot of retweets from people I like alot on Twitter. I followed her on Twitter and found her to be a hilarious master of the short form (and prolific - she's up to 22,000 tweets in just over a year. I'm at 2,600 in four years). She mentioned a memoir she'd released this yea...more
Maura
I don't have much to add to what other reviewers have written, except to say that if you're a musician there's some helpful information here on writing and singing. Oh, maybe one more thing: I think about children of musical icons having such a privileged existence with entree to a world most of us must fight to glimpse and that was certainly part of Roseanne Cash's story. But the strength she's shown in overcoming adversity, finding her own voice and supporting her family is admirable.
Kathleen
Rosanne Cash is one of my favorite singer/songwriters; that said, there's not a whole lot of insight in this book. The book is strongest when it talks about her longing for family and her sadness over the mortality of her famous father and not-so-famous mother. Cash is famously guarded, and this comes across in this memoir. I would've liked to know more about her process of creating art. She also gives almost no mention to some serious issues. It's certainly her right to keep her privacy guarded...more
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“For me, art is a more trustworthy expression of God than religion.” 3 likes
“Loss is the great unifier, the terrible club to which we all eventually belong.” 3 likes
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