04 September 2010

Barkeep's Jukebox: "The List" by Rosanne Cash

This album is for drinkers.
The List by Rosanne Cash

Welcome to the second installment in the "Barkeep's Jukebox" sub-series.  This weekend, we turn our attention to Rosanne Cash's 2009 release The List.  I won't bore you with the oft-repeated origin of the album, but what matters is that this is a collection of songs from various eras.  Cash's husband and album producer, John Leventhal, brought a unifying aesthetic to the twelve songs with his arrangements.  Here we go!

"Miss the Mississippi and You" - Cash's wistful vocals and an almost lazy sounding accompaniment wish they could return to the comfort of Mississippi.  There's a jazz-like sound here that calls out for a light wine.  A pinot noir, or perhaps a pinot grigio, I should think.

"Motherless Children" - Yeah, we're not in white wine territory anymore.  The sound of the song is as ominous as its lyrics.  We're told how various family members will try to replace a mother, but come up short.  There's something about the coldness of Cash's vocals here that make me think: vodka.  And not in some kind of fruity concoction; pour a highball of chilled vodka over ice.  Let it burn.

"Sea of Heartbreak" (featuring Bruce Springsteen) - When Jimmy Buffett and George Strait covered this, it made me want rum.  Cash and The Boss, though, make it forlorn.  This is the kind of regret that can only come from someone screwing up something special.  Complete the bittersweetness with a flute of champagne.  It should be bubbly...like the love that used to be.

"Take These Chains from My Heart" - The lyrics tell of a relationship that's already died, but keeps going.  Thankfully, after the previous two songs, the arrangement favors optimism; the emphasis here is on being set free.  Have a mint julep.  The bourbon is to the "chains" as the minty-ness is to the hopeful outlook.

"I'm Movin' On" - Sultry.  Absolutely just...smoldering with humidity.  This arrangement kills me every time I hear it.  You shouldn't mix drinking and driving, of course, but it's okay to mix drinking and songs about driving off.  Pour a smooth, Tennessee sippin' whiskey.  I suggest George Dickel.  And go ahead and light up a Montecristo No. 2 while you're at it.  Let your temples tingle.

"Heartaches by the Number" (featuring Elvis Costello) - Ah, the ups and downs of an on-again/off-again relationship.  The acoustic, pleasant arrangement makes this more of a sing-along than the rest of the album.  It's okay to have something a little more whimsical here, like a mojito.

"500 Miles" - My God, this is depressing.  Cash sounds fatigued by emotion here, befitting the song about being away from home.  I really don't know that there is a drink to go with this song, but perhaps this is the time to have a darker, stout beer like a Guinness?

"Long Black Veil" (featuring Jeff Tweedy) - Originally composed for a male singer, this is a story song about a wrongfully convicted and executed narrator who wouldn't expose his affair with his best friend's wife as his true whereabouts.  It never quite takes on a lesbian subtext, despite the lyrics not being adapted for the feminine Cash.  Because of this, it's got more of a folksy, around-the-campfire feel.  I hate to tell you to have another beer, but that's what I'm feeling here.  Drinker's preference is fine.

"She's Got You" - The Other Woman won, and we're privy to the inner thoughts of the loser.  This calls for something not very elaborate.  A simple, red wine.  I'd go with a merlot (The Little Penguin was a favorite of mine before my guts stopped allowing it).  Go ahead; finish the bottle.  It's a long, long night of misery.

"Girl from the North Country" - This song feels as cold as the "howling wind" of the North Country where a "true love of mine" still is.  Enjoy a White Russian here.  When properly mixed, it's the kind of light-tasting drink that evokes a small grin.  Just like the kind a person has when they see the light at the end of a dark tunnel.

"Silver Wings" (featuring Rufus Wainwright) - Here, Cash pleads with a lover not to get aboard an outbound flight that will take him away from her.  Is there anything sadder than watching someone you love leave?  Pour a shot of tequila.  No salt, no lime.  Just soul-deadening burn.

"Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow" - How dark is this?  Our intrepid narrator lets us know she wants to be buried under a prominent weeping willow tree...so that her ex-husband might be able to find her and feel some sadness once she's gone.  There's a desperation here and it's hard to say which kind of alcohol best suits it.  Err on the side of caution and mix a Long Island Iced Tea.