Rosanne Cash Surrenders to Grief
In an exclusive video meditation, plus an interview and music, the singer-songwriter shares her journey through grief and faith.
BY: Interview by Holly Lebowitz Rossi
How do you describe yourself spiritually or religiously?
I'm not uncomfortable with "religious." Some people are uncomfortable with what my idea of "religious" is. I'm already getting letters and biblical tracts from people telling me how to become a Christian and how to keep myself from going to hell. And I want to say, how can I go to a place that only exists in your mind?
But I consider myself religious in the best sense of the word. I like being in a state of surrendering my will to something greater than myself, whether that's in writing or when I go to Buddhist meditation, or when I go to Episcopal church, which I do both of, actually. I pray every single day, and meditate every single day. So my spiritual life is as important to me as my creative life. At some points, the two merge. Not always, but at some points, they do. Actually, they're very similar. They might even be the same thing, I'm not sure yet.
What kind of music do you find the most spiritual?
Bruce Springsteen can be deeply spiritual to me. Lou Reed's record "Magic and Loss" is profoundly spiritual. Annie Lennox's song "Why" is profoundly spiritual to me. It doesn't have to have context for me to find it spiritual, it doesn't have to be framed and labeled as being of God or of the spirit for me to find it spiritual. That word "spiritual" just means that it resonates with the spirit. And that could be anything—that could be art, music, it could be my 7-year-old son's paintings of Bionicles, because it comes straight from his little soul, and he loves it. It's all communion with God, isn't it?
How do you describe your parents' religion and spirituality? What legacies did they leave you?
Her parents' spiritual legacies
My father, on the other hand, was a Baptist--although I always said he was a mystic. His mysticism was framed by Southern Protestant religion, but he was an anomaly because he was very respectful of anyone's spiritual path, and very open to mystical experiences and to a sense of the mystic in religion. He was not earthbound by his religion. So I got that too, and for better or for worse, it led me to Buddhism.
Was he supportive of your Buddhist practice?
Not really. That was hard for him. In fact, one day, he said, "Please don't become a Buddhist." But I don't think he had a real understanding of it. I wouldn't call myself a Buddhist anyway. I still go to Episcopal church a lot of times. I wouldn't define my religious sense.
What do you think happens to us after we die?
Before, you said that the relationship with your parents continues. Does that depend on the answer to the question, "Where are they now?"
No. In fact, even if I believed it was lights-out and it was just over, I would still think the relationship continued, because I've internalized them. When I was making Thanksgiving dinner, I was all about my mom. I was doing things like my mom would have done. I just felt her presence, I got out her cookbook, she was there. A couple of years ago, I went to hear Al Gore speak, I got in the taxi, and my dad's cologne was in the taxi. I had that scent in my nose through the whole speech, after the speech, so sometimes I do think that they are around. But like I said, even if there wasn't any feeling of that, the relationship would still continue.