Friday, April 02, 2021

Song of the Day: 'The Killing Fields' by Rosanne Cash

The lovely and talented Rosanne Cash is back with a haunting new single, one she says she wrote "during a volatile, heartbreaking moment in America last summer." 

All proceeds from "The Killing Fields" go to Arkansas Peace and Justice Memorial Movement (@APJMM2019 in collaboration with @eji_org & @comingtothetable).

Purchase and streaming options HERE.

You would have to be a Republican monster to not be going through a reckoning with racial justice after what we've witnessed, especially since the advent of smartphones. 

I'm guessing this song must have been especially meaningful to Rosanne, whose family was targeted by white supremacists back in 1965 when her father, Johnny Cash, was photographed with wife Vivian after appearing in an El Paso, Texas, courthouse facing drug-smuggling charges. Were the Jim Crow fans upset that he might have been a druggie, you ask? No, it was the way his pretty wife looked they had a problem with.

Biographer Michael Streissguth said Cash's manager felt he had to respond: “He was out there saying that Cash was not married to a black woman.” Cash made a statement that his wife was, in fact, white, and threatened a lawsuit.

Vivian later wrote in her 2008 memoir that her husband was harassed and boycotted by some Southern fans. “Johnny and I received death threats, and an already shameful situation was made infinitely worse."

Cut to Rosanne's recently aired episode of "Finding Your Roots," where genealogists discovered that her mother did in fact descend from slavery. (One of Rosanne’s maternal great-great-great-grandmothers, Sarah A. Shields, was a mixed-race woman born into slavery, who was freed along with her eight siblings by their white father.) 

It's hard to imagine if this in any way changes how Rosanne and her family feel about the whole ugly chapter. (The Cashes have long been associated with racial equality before any DNA testing was done.) I think she might have said, "So they were kind of right" to Henry Louis Gates as he delivered the news. The only way I can even think to relate to it is having grown up being called a "f****t" my whole life and then years later finally coming to terms with who I am. 

Rosanne, of course, looked understandably mortified by all the slave-owning ancestors in her family tree, which no doubt inspired this poignant lyric from the new single: ‘All that came before us is not who we are now.’

61 across: Grammy-winning singer Cash

No comments: