The best Rosanne Cash song ever.

Scrutinizing culture.
Oct. 13 2010 12:29 PM

The Best Rosanne Cash Song Ever

Dare you not to weep!

(Continued from Page 2)

That baby became me. ... Reminds me of the heartbreaking Dylan line in "If You See Her, Say Hello" from Blood on the Tracks: "She still lives inside of me/ We've never been apart." It seems to me from the way she writes about the profound effect of a 1995 miscarriage in her memoir, and from the way she spoke about it candidly at the 92nd St. Y event, that it was a turning point in her life. She doesn't say so explicitly, but it's hard to hear that line now about a room prepared for a baby who "was not delivered" without thinking this is what she is referring to.

That grief—and her recovery from it—is, I think, at the center of the book. It's almost as if that verse was the eulogy for the child not delivered.


It's the kind of grief men can suffer, but never as much. I know this because my mother suffered two still-births and, and though she never spoke about it to me, I believe the deep streak of sadness that was bequeathed to me by those losses is what has drawn me to this music of loss. That's my new theory anyway.

Look at that: I've never written anything so emotional. Rosanne Cash will do that to you.

And then there's the verse her father sings in their "September When It Comes" duet when it's clear he's singing about his own coming death:

I plan to crawl outside these walls
Close my eyes and see
Fall into the heart and arms
Of those who wait for me.

Note the use of the rhetorical device "fall into the heart and arms." It reminded me of Shakespearean hendiadys, * the signature figure of speech of Hamlet, a device that some have argued expresses in its doubling the divided soul of Hamlet himself. "Heart and arms" recalled to me another line from Hamlet, "the book and volume of my soul." Well, that's how I remembered it. Only my memory was at fault. In the text it's "book and volume of my brain." But in "heart and arms" we hear the book and volume of the soul as well.

 The girl can write. Listen to "September When It Comes." Read those eulogies. Not that Composed is entirely without humor, even about death. She talks about one of the ambitious funeral directors she deals with approaching her with a new innovation the industry has come up with. If she agrees to be cremated, the eager mortuary man says excitedly, they can compress the carbon ash or her remains into a diamond. (I'm not making this up; anyway that's what she says.)

She laughs it off. I know she wouldn't say it, but she's already one of life's gems.

Correction, Oct. 13, 2010: This article initially misspelled the name of a rhetorical device. It's hendiadys, not hendyiasis. ( Return to the corrected sentence.)

Like Slate on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

Republicans Want the Government to Listen to the American Public on Ebola. That’s a Horrible Idea.

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Tom Hanks Has a Short Story in the New Yorker. It’s Not Good.

Brow Beat

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.