A little over 30 years ago Rosanne Cash recorded The Wheel, a magnificent set of songs she wrote about the breakup of her marriage to Rodney Crowell. The album was produced by John Leventhal, whom she fell in love with in the process and married the following year. We saw the two of them at Minneapolis’s old Guthrie Theater when they toured in support of the album. I thought it was a perfect album and a fantastic show. The album seemed to me a moving and brilliant success.
Thirty years later the ownership of the master tapes has reverted to Rosanne and she has released a remastered and expanded version of the album on her label. She has also set off on a tour she calls Reinventing The Wheel 1993-2023. Leventhal accompanies her on guitar and occasional harmony parts. We attended the tour’s first show last night at the Dakota in Minneapolis. They return for a second (sold-out) show again tonight. Upcoming tour dates scheduled in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and elsewhere are listed here.
She filled last night’s show with highlights. It felt like a privilege to attend. Rosanne mentioned toward the end that she and John had fought over the setlist during the day. Every song they performed sounded to me like it could have been an encore. Rosanne’s voice remains a thing of devastating beauty.
I learned from comments Leventhal made during the two-hour set that the original album was “a complete and total commercial failure.” I didn’t know that and didn’t understand it. The title track was the last of the five songs they performed from The Wheel last night. I have posted the original album version below. I think it is about starting her life over again with Leventhal. What a stunning track.
Rosanne also performed three songs from The List — her disc based on the handwritten list of 100 essential country songs her father gave her when she turned 18. Listening to her perform these numbers last night felt like living history. “Long Black Veil” was the first of the three numbers.
“Sea of Heartbreak” was the second. You can hear the heartbreak in her voice.
Leventhal called an audible during the show. I don’t think the Beatles’ “And Your Bird Can Sing” was on the setlist, but this was another highlight. Leventhal said it was his favorite Beatles song. Rosanne turns it into a kind of feminist anthem.
Rosanne’s “Seven Year Ache” was the last song she performed before two encores. It sounded like this.
Bob Dylan’s “Farewell Angelina” was the first of her two encores. Another song from The List (Hank Snow’s “I” ‘m Movin’ On”) was the second. She sent us home on a high.