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.
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.
In your liner notes, you write, "there's no faith without doubt." Do you also feel that there's no love, peace, any other good things, without doubt? That we can't fully experience anything good in life without being aware of the alternative?
I think that is true. You can experience them, but they have a more narrow margin, and they're shallower until you experience the reverse. I just know that, in my own experience, my love was deepened after experiencing loss. And that my faith was strengthened after experiencing tremendous doubt, doubt to the point of a sense of annihilation. And that my patience was strengthened after going through these unsettling things where you can't bear one more second. I don't know if that's true for everyone. Maybe there are some people who are full of love, they don't need to know about doubt or death or loss or anger. I've never met anyone like that.