Release Date

December 1st, 2021

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Music great Rosanne Cash joins Zainab to talk about the intersection of creativity, authenticity, and the Divine. Over the course of her illustrious career as a singer, songwriter, and author, Rosanne Cash has learned to embrace both her own identity and her father’s towering legacy. Along the way, she’s dealt with devastating loss, opened her heart to transformative love, and learned that live performance is a matter of service rather than ego.

“When there’s something tremendously hard in my life and painful, I think: If I can do this through integrity and not blame anyone and not act out and not destroy myself—if I do it with integrity, I do it for all women.”

INSPIRATION

TRANSCRIPT

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Redefined is hosted by me, Zainab Salbi, and brought to you by FindCenter, a search engine for your soul. Part library, part temple, FindCenter presents a world of wisdom, organized. Check it out today at www.findcenter.com and please subscribe to Redefined for free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

[introductory piano music]

What’s most important about life? What is the essence of life? Is it what we do, how much we earn, how many social media followers we have, or is it, do we live our lives in kindness to ourselves and to others? Do we live our lives in love to ourselves and to others? In nearly losing my life, I was confronted with these questions and it led me to the conversations that make up Redefined, about how we draw our inner maps and the pursuit of meaningful personal change.

My guest this time is singer, songwriter, and author Rosanne Cash. She is a Grammy-winning artist, a brilliant author, and of course, the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash. Good music comes from an authentic place and Rosanne’s story is one of digging deep into her own authenticity. She does this in all of her creative work and in her development as an individual, as a mother, a daughter, a wife, and ultimately as a seeker. “Art,” she says, “is a more trustworthy expression of God than religion.” Please join me as Rosanne and I discuss the relationship between creativity and the Divine—and so much more.

[piano music fades out]

Well, Rosanne, thank you so, so, so much for joining me in this conversation, and I want to start by the story of your encounter with the friend who introduced us, David, because you had a huge impact on him with the first question, as I understand the story, that you asked him when you got together, I think for a meal, which is who is your favorite mystic? And I was like, wow, obviously this had a huge impact on him. You have talked about being a mystic before, so I’m going to just ask you the question, who is your favorite mystic?

Rosanne Cash:

Oh, I have an array of mystics that I’m drawn to. And also, how do you define that? How do you define mystic? There’s also a spectrum of those kinds of people and beings from Joan of Arc to Rilke, from Hildegard to Rumi, or the Buddha. Those people who have stepped outside linear time and linear thought and are “ascending heaven on the stairs of surprise,” as Emerson said. I’m drawn to those people. They pull you out of your own morass of linear thoughts and the mundane.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

And on that, I feel when I immerse myself in your life and in your interviews and in your books in the last . . . and preparing for this interview, I feel that authentic value, that authentic voice has been something that is very anchoring in your life. And you talk about moments of inauthenticity and the decision to say, “No, I’m going to go into the authenticity.” I wonder, how did you come to that?

Rosanne Cash:

Well, because it felt damaging to be inauthentic. It made me uncomfortable, sleepless, anxious. Even if I was “wrong” in the decision of being authentic, I learned something. When I was really young and starting out, sometimes I made terrible choices that at the time were authentic because that’s who I was, that was where my development was, that’s what I didn’t know yet, but that’s how I learned to go forward.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

And have you been in the position of being asked not to be authentic and what was the decision you had to make to not to abandon yourself, or the sacrifice? Because, I really believe in one, I mean the path of getting to our bliss is to be authentic, to be true to ourselves, to our voice, to our values. And there are times, at least in my life, when I tried, because I was going to lose love or lose acceptance or lose whatever, jobs, I mean, it’s like I would go into an unauthentic . . . and that kills me.

Rosanne Cash:

I totally relate. I mean, it’s the same for me. It’s like something that has prestige and I’m afraid to turn it down even though I know it’s wrong to turn it down or something that would’ve got me a lot of attention, but it wasn’t right for me, or I would lose something, or I would lose a step on the path forward. And every time I accepted it and I knew it was wrong, it’s never turned out well. If I knew it wasn’t me, wasn’t authentic, I would fail. Although, failure is essential, but still, it refines your instincts, doesn’t it?

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Mm-hmm [affirmative]. I mean, that’s a feminine value, I would say, the instinct. It’s like really listening to that pulse and seeing what it says. I want to go back to the mystic. I’m a Rumi person. I have his books all over my home. I read him every day. I’m in love with this thirteenth century Sufi poet. He is my guide. He’s my teacher. And mysticism, for me at least, has relationships with the Divine. It’s a different relationship with the Divine, for me. And I’m very curious about that because you have told the story of going to church throughout your childhood, and you have told the story of stopping, of asking your father to stop taking you to church when you were sixteen, and that you made a pact, and that was the new beginning. I am just dying to know: why. Why did you want to stop going to church?

Rosanne Cash:

I wanted to stop going to Catholic church. I couldn’t find myself in that; I felt it was misogynistic and punitive and didn’t respect women. My mother was excommunicated when she divorced and she was a devout Catholic. And I thought, well, any religion that treats somebody who’s so devoted to them like that, she couldn’t receive communion anymore. I didn’t like it and I felt that they used guilt against me.

The odd thing, Zainab, is that my daughter is Catholic. She got baptized. I learned to respect the way I saw things was not the way other people saw that religion. It wasn’t black and white. So I tried a lot of things. I went to different churches. I couldn’t find myself in that, although I do like ritual a lot.

My sense of the Divine right now at this point in my life is that it’s related to science, particularly to quantum physics, because there’s such mystery at the center of theoretical physics. And that there’s a humility to theoretical physicists because they know they’re constantly at the edge of the unknown and just touching something that’s so vast that we can’t understand it. And I think of God as beyond my understanding and beyond human qualities. And so, therefore, God is not punitive. That’s a human quality. God is not judgmental, but there’s this machinery—if I can just keep my hands out of it, stop gumming up the works—it works beautifully. It’s also the source of all creativity.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

And what does it mean to keep your . . . where do you put your hands in it? Is that where your mind is doubtful and judgmental? Where are the cases where you interfere in that flow, as you said?

Rosanne Cash:

When I don’t pause, when I do something out of a sense of anxiety or false urgency, or out of a sense of inauthenticity, like we were just talking about, that’s “gumming up the works.” It’s beyond what I could explain, but I know it’s there. And I know when I work and I am in this free zone where it’s just coming through—I’m sure you know what I mean—where you’re outside linear time again, and it’s just coming through. There’s something of God in that.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Talking about the Divine and mystic, with saying in that, you had once said, music is your deity. I wonder how did you discover that? What was the process in which you were like, “Oh my God, this is my deity?”

Rosanne Cash:

Well, at some point, and this was many years ago, I realized that—I said this, I even made it into a little poster for myself, that art was a more trustworthy expression of God than religion. It’s because art is trustworthy. It doesn’t pollute. It doesn’t warp. It doesn’t twist you. It doesn’t demand—except of your own discipline if you are an artist, and it does demand discipline. But unlike religion—or some religions, I wouldn’t say all religions—but unlike some religions, it doesn’t want to instill fear or make declarations that can’t possibly be proven or judge you or narrow the possibilities for your own development and self-awareness. I mean, that’s one thing . . . I’m drawn to Buddhism because it’s three things, self-awareness, compassion and nonviolence. And I think, well, what else do you need in a religion?

Zainab Salbi (Host):

True, but I truly, truly love your description of art. It’s true. It doesn’t have power dynamics.

Rosanne Cash:

I would call it the Divine. And also, it’s a space where you find no judgment, no gender discrimination, no racial discrimination, no religion discrimination, no discrimination at all. It’s a free space to allow yourself to be inspired. I used to imagine when I was a child that I had a little cave and that I could go into it. And that it had all of the books I wanted to read and the music I wanted to hear, and the pictures on the walls that I wanted to see. And the solitude that protected the creativity, because I deeply value my solitude. In fact, I wrote this piece once called “Architecture of the Soul” about artists having more than their fair share of mental illness and drug addiction and suicide, because we go into that space and we don’t know how to get back. And that solitude can lead you to depression, which can lead to despair; you have to be so careful once you enter in to stay open to the creativity without being open to darker psychic forces that could pull you under.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

That explains actually a lot of artists who do suffer with that. Yeah, it does. Thank you. What keeps you, I mean, and let’s go into that. What has held you personally, soulfully in your highest moments of success or highest points of success? Because that can get . . . Right? You’re there, right? The world is yours and it’s people are clapping and what’s kept you grounded?

Rosanne Cash:

Well, first I want to say, that doesn’t mean I’m not prone to melancholy. I am. And I have to be very careful with melancholy. It can also be a tool for creativity, but it’s dangerous if you go too far down the road. What has kept me there? My children. I was self-destructive, I would say, before I had children. And then I realized, “Ah, I’m responsible for them.” And I’ve learned that one of a parent’s chief responsibility is to be optimistic because otherwise you damage their futures, right? And they have the whole world and all their potential ahead of them. I can’t be negative and self-destructive and take something away from who they are going to become. So they have been a lightning rod for me, the guiding force. Also just enough rest, a companion who supports me—my husband—my friends. I sew. I think doing tactile things are very helpful.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

You sew? What do you sew?

Rosanne Cash:

Well, I’m not a great seamstress by any stretch of the imagination, but I hand sew, embroidery and things.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Way cool. Fantastic. My mom was a great seamstress, as a hobby, and I was like, “No!” My resistance of her, I was like, “No, I’m not doing it,” because she was such a good one at it, actually. So I’m fascinated by that. But talking about children, you have five children.

Rosanne Cash:

Yeah.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

And my friend once told me, the biggest lie society tells women is that you can balance between your parenthood, being a mother and your career. And that was actually a CEO of a major company. She was like, “It’s the biggest lie. They don’t tell us that we cannot, that it is very, very hard. And it’s really hard to do them both.” How has that been for you? Did you have that challenge or not, and how did you deal with that?

Rosanne Cash:

Well, I think the balance comes because you have to constantly make choices—or I did. There was work that I gave up, certainly, because I wanted to be with my children or they needed me. I noticed that about two years after having a baby, I felt very disconnected from writing, performing, creating. And I would always . . . The first couple of babies, I would think, “It’ll never come back. I’m done. I’m just going to be a mom and be cleaning the kitchen.” And then I realized they required those two years. And that was great. I got the baby, they need the two years, and the creativity always came back. And also it was creative in another way, right? You’re bringing a child, getting them past that stage where they’re completely dependent on you. And I don’t know. She’s the CEO of a big company. Yeah, she probably couldn’t balance it. I found that the lie for me is that you can do it all. You can’t do it all. At least not at the same time. Maybe you could do this here and this here and that adds up to being all, but not at the same time.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Well, but that’s good that you can, and that you were not judgmental, I suppose, on yourself when you said, “I’m going to take this period just for them to get them into an age where they can walk and talk.” But were you worried about, “Oh, my God, the impact of my career,” all of that, in these pauses, or do you just stay present to wherever you need to be?

Rosanne Cash:

I wish I could say that I knew that cognitively before it was happening, it had to happen for me to learn that and go, “Oh, that’s a cycle of life for me. That’s my cycle of life because I chose to have children.” I’m speaking as a very privileged woman. I am not a single mom who is a housekeeper. I don’t work for minimum wage. I have choices, more choices than some people. So I’m humbled by the idea that I could make these choices. Some people can’t.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

That’s fair. You grew up with [an] iconic father and there’s a resistance you talk about in your . . . A resistance to follow his path, a resistance of music. How did you come, and there’s one interview that I heard you say that you were in your fifties when you said, “Okay, if I cannot accept that this is also my life, then when will I accept it?” But how did you come to that conclusion that this is who he is, then this is who I am, and that people are always going to see me in extension of him, but I also am going to see my identity as I am. And I ask that honestly, from a very personal perspective, because I always resisted my own father. Very different story. And like, “No!” And then finally I surrendered. And the surrendering to it, it no longer was a burden.

Rosanne Cash:

That’s beautiful.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

But how did you come . . . It was torturous for me. I worked with a lot of work on myself, but how did you, I’m curious about how did you come to . . . And your father is much, much, much, much, much, much bigger than the story I have, but how did you come to that journey?

Rosanne Cash:

Well, I’m sure that the inner journey wasn’t much, much, much bigger than yourself. It’s the same. How did I come to it? Also, a lot of work in myself, and working very hard on my life’s work that I got more comfortable with accepting that it was good work, that I was good at what I did. But how I came to it is that I shifted my understanding and my relationship with him from, “he’s a shadow” to “this is my legacy” and I can cut the threads I don’t want, and I can strengthen the ones I do want. And also, I don’t think that you know yourself until your ancestors and where you come from.

And that thing about I’m cutting that chain. I’m not carrying that forward, but this I’d like to develop for my children. My grandmother’s tenacity. I want that. My grandfather’s racism, his viciousness, [slap] cutting, it’s done. And my father, his beauty as an artist and the depth of his feeling and the way he lived in an artist’s mind all the time, yeah, I have some of that. I can develop that. That’s in my DNA. But the other part, the self-destructive part, like we talked about earlier, there’s no benefit in that for me and there’s no benefit in anyone around me.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

You talked about one time, your daughter asked you, who is a musician herself, and when she released her first album, she said, “How can I be a musician and not be famous?” And you said, “Oh, my God. It hit me because that is how I’ve always struggled with.” Part of that legacy is being famous. How did you come to being at peace with that? It’s so interesting because so many people want to be famous, especially these days. You’re famous on social media, you’re famous on . . . And so I’m curious as someone who grew up inside of fame, if you may, and have lived the life of fame, what do you have to share with everyone else about fame? The goodness of it, the destructiveness of it, and the relationship with it in a healthy way?

Rosanne Cash:

Well, I saw behind the curtain very early that fame . . . And my mother also imprinted on me, fame makes you get divorced and makes you a drug addict and makes you stay away from home and not raise your own children. She had [a] very negative kind of a prototype of what fame is that she wanted to pass on. And I did think some of those things, it was just a terrible thing that could happen to someone, as if it was an outside event that came and hurt you, that you never had any privacy. I remember when my dad wanted to take us roller skating, he would have to rent the roller skating rink so that he wouldn’t be covered up with people. At the same time, I never saw him be rude to anyone in his life. No matter how intrusive the interruption was, he was always kind.

So I didn’t have any illusions about fame, that it was all glamorous, that it was all beauty. I saw the exhaustion and all of it. So the idea made me very anxious, but I did want to perform, I did want to write songs. I did not want to just do them from my living room. I knew that that was part of the deal. You had a somewhat public life, but I think I’ve moderated it really well. If I had wanted to go for it and be the amount of attention of Bruce Springsteen or something, or Adele or someone like that, I would’ve put more effort into being famous. But I’ve seen throughout . . . Not to say I could have done it just because I wanted to. But do you know what I mean? I didn’t put the energy there. I’ve seen in my life that I have put stopgaps for myself at various points. Like that’s too much attention, I’m not going to do that. And I’ve managed to keep a private life. And part of my private life is living in New York City. I love the anonymity of living in New York City. And also if people recognize you on the street, they go, “Oh, I saw you on that thing. Yeah, that was good,” and then they just keep going.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

It’s true.

Rosanne Cash:

Yeah. I mean, I don’t have illusions about it at all.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

It’s interesting because I grew up close to power, not fame, but power. My father was Saddam Hussein’s personal pilot and friend. So I grew up seeing power very closely. And at a very young age, I was like, “Oh, power is corrupt.” It wasn’t because I read a book. It’s because I was seeing its corruption right in front of my eyes. And I was like, “I do not want to be that.”

And I spent a lifetime, change . . . a lifetime working with the poorest of the poor. That’s one thing. It’s almost like the opposite. But a lifetime escaping power, resisting it, refusing it, giving it away when it came to me. And almost to my detriment, I mean, at one point it got into my way. And for me, that transformation was, I work with a Jungian analyst. I hear that you had also worked with a Jungian analyst. And it was like, he was telling me, “You have to . . . Either you accept it and be at peace or you leave it and be at torture all the time.” Or like refuse it, not leave it. Keep on rejecting it and constantly torture yourself. Which one do you want to do?

And I didn’t listen to him then. But it took me a while to really change my understanding of—I’m really struggling with until today—of power, and how does one not have the phobia or the trauma you work with. I mean, whether it’s trauma,whether. . . Whatever it is. The observation that’s seeing from close—not get into the way of one’s own path and one’s own voice.

Rosanne Cash:

That changed for me. I know exactly what you’re talking about. It’s so interesting how you just explained it. The microcosm of that for me is performing. In the beginning of my career, I thought that performing was about being perfect and going out and being judged for not being perfect. And it caused me tremendous anxiety and stage fright. Over time, I’ve realized that it’s about service. They’re not coming to feel my feelings. They’re coming for me to be in service to their feelings and to what they are going to have revealed about themselves to their own lives, and to stoke their compassion and connection, and to create a sense of community for two hours that night. So that was the microcosm in performance.

I’ve come to feel that fame is the same thing. You can use it to kind of live out this poisonous existence that’s very shallow and it’s what the Buddhist call the hungry ghosts. It’s never satisfied. Or you can use it to be of service. Well, it sounds lofty, but it’s not. It’s just bedrock. It’s just a bedrock choice.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I love that. And the same with power, it could be destructive and could be with service. And I think what I came to learn and what I’m listening from . . . taking from what you’re saying, is that when we use it as a core, as the core of our identity, when we use the success or the fame or the power as the core of our identity, it is destructive. When we use it as in service of identity, that the channeling, if you’re just a channel to be in service, then it could be healthy and it can be grounding.

Rosanne Cash:

That’s so true. And that is absolutely what you are living. And it’s what I aspire to live. I think that it requires self-awareness and hard inner work. And it’s easy to default to just doing what you just said, that, making it your core identity, and then you’re always hungry. There’s never enough power. There’s never enough money. There’s never enough fame. Yeah. You described it very well. And it’s a lifelong process, isn’t it? And it takes being guarded against the seduction of the other.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Very true. And seduction of society, commercialism. It’s not [an] easy process. I don’t think so. I think it’s a—

Rosanne Cash:

Zainab, what I have found too, is that I have a very strong, competitive spirit, in everything from playing ping pong to getting the good shows to do, and how many tickets sold and all of that. That can live concurrently. Right? We use competition as something that’s healthy, makes you better. And then you’re able to do more service.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Oh my gosh, I’m very competitive as well. I mean, you don’t want to play backgammon with me. I mean, it’s just like, I’ll go at it. So that for me is much more . . . But that’s a drive and I love that charge. It keeps me—it’s joyful for me. It’s like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” And I think that’s a healthy thing.But it’s not. . . But honestly, it’s. . . I mean, you’re kind and say you are there. I’m not there. I’m just trying to work on it every day, every day, every day, to get there, hopefully, maybe, one day.

I want to talk about heartbreaks and loss, because you’ve had a lot of loss in your life. I mean, loss of parents, loss of loss. I mean, loss of your voice, honestly I mean for a couple of years. And that’s scary. How did all of that loss—I mean, I have two questions. One is, what did loss teach you about the essence of life?

Rosanne Cash:

Well, and also the loss is, I mean, it’s not a tragedy to lose an elderly parent. That’s the natural course of things. I’ve lost not more that I haven’t spoken about, about not just death, but I would be betraying other people to talk about it. But I think I talk to a Jungian analyst about this, speaking of Jungians, and there was a tremendous loss I was feeling and I was devastated. And she said . . . She talked about doing it with the due diligence of integrity, going through the grief and loss of this. And she said something so interesting. She said, “If you do that, you’re doing it for all women.”

Oh, I will never forget that. And if I still think of it, it’s going to make me cry. I still think of it. When there’s something tremendously hard in my life and painful, I think if I can do this through with integrity and not blame anyone and not act out and not destroy myself, if I do it with integrity, I do it for all women. And it’s not that . . . an egocentric thing. It’s about just your little bucket that you carry. And helping people move a little further along the path with theirs because you did this and it’s unspoken. Doesn’t have to be spoken.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I love it. I love it. And actually, I don’t think it’s egocentric at all. I think many women, every woman I know, carried that burden of pain, whether the pain happened to the woman herself or is ancestral pain or in our DNA, because we have been [a] marginalized group of people for centuries now. So we do carry that pain. So the way I hear what your analyst said is when every time we change the trajectory of how we deal with that pain, then it helps other . . . the psyche, if you may, of the collective. We contribute to the psyche of the collective.

Rosanne Cash:

That’s right. It is about the collective, and the collective and the connection. And that people get it whether you say it or not.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Exactly, exactly. The loss that I’m really interested also in asking how you dealt with that is the one when you, of your voice. I mean your core identity is someone who expresses her voice, okay. Not only in songs, you’re also a songwriter, you’re also an author, you’re also a storyteller in so many different ways. But the singing is a core part of your voice. And you developed polyps on your vocal chords and that does not allow you to sing for a couple of years, as I understand it.

How did that impact your identity? And I ask that in context, because a few years ago, a couple of years ago, I lost my ability to think, to articulate myself with words. I had a severe case of Lyme disease, which impacted my cognitive ability to express myself with words. And I am a writer, I’m a communicator. And it really shook me. I was like, “If I can’t express myself with words, then who am I?” It really led me to question the core of who am I. I’m curious. How did it impact you? That particular loss, how did it impact your identity? And it may not have, but how did it impact you and how did you come to a conclusion of it afterwards?

Rosanne Cash:

Let me first ask you something. How long was that for you?

Zainab Salbi (Host):

A year and a half where I could not . . . I would think of a word in my mind and I cannot express it verbally. My expression moved to painting to colors, but not to words. But I’m not a painter. I mean, like I paint, but I can’t earn a living from painting. My communication is who I am. So it took me a year and a half and [the] most humbling experience of my life to be honest, one of.

Rosanne Cash:

Well, when I lost my voice, I first thought, “Oh, I’ll be fine. I consider myself a songwriter foremost. So, not being a singer is not going to bother me that much. I’ll just turn myself to songwriting.” [pause] I was devastated. And that’s when I realized that it was a part of my core identity and that I had been keeping it secret from myself that that was a part of my core identity. For some reason I just didn’t think it was as valuable as being a writer, and I grieved for it, and I thought . . . very clearly I thought when I get it back, I’m not going to criticize myself about it anymore. I’m not going to have that running thing of, “Oh, you missed that note. Oh, somebody else is better than you. Oh, whatever, you’re so limited.”

And I haven’t kept that a hundred percent, but I did get more loving towards my own voice after that. But what I did during the time, as you said for you, it was a gift, the core identity gift, well first I saw that. And then also I started writing prose, a lot more prose. And I started developing a cottage industry of people commissioning me to write essays for various publications; that would’ve never happened had I not lost my voice.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

For me, it led me to a new direction in life. It’s like a new intention because it connected me to my . . . The loss of my words led me to connect to my heart in a most intimate way, and coming to realize that the heart has a language and that I need to understand its language.

Rosanne Cash:

That’s so beautiful. And also what you’ve just described is what happens when your life’s work comes directly from the heart, rather than something created outside of yourself. And I think both of us have found that out over time as we mature, and through loss.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Through loss, through loss. I’m so grateful, I have come to the point in my life where I’m just grateful for all the things, the loss and the gains, the successes and the failures, and just the tears and the . . . I’m just grateful for . . . And you know what? Most important, I’m grateful for the people who have hurt me. I’m truly grateful for the people who have hurt me because they have helped me become who I am today.

Rosanne Cash:

That’s inspiring. I’m going to think about that for the rest of the day.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Well, I have a few questions. I know I’ve taken a lot of your time and I have few more questions. Your brain surgery, because that’s another scary one, right? And you always in all your mentions about it, you always, I have a sense that you go lighthearted about it. You talk about jokes and lightheartedness and all of that. I was like, “So maybe that’s how your attitude was about it, which is wonderful and healthy.” But I wonder what are the things you told your kids just before you went to the surgery? What are the things that you wanted to leave them with in case the worst happened?

Rosanne Cash:

Well, my son was only eight and he didn’t really understand. And that, as I put it . . . I was just positive about it. “I have the best doctor who does this all the time and I’m going to be fine.”

And the night before my surgery, and I put him to bed, and he said, “I’m freaking out mom.” And I said, “How can I help you?” And he said, “Tell me everything that’s going to happen.” And so I just, I went through the whole surgery. I said, “This is what’s going to happen.” And I told him about the doctor and how great the hospital was and everything. And he was still scared, but he was okay. And when I came home from the hospital, he started to cry. It was so sweet.

And then I could tell he was still worried. And this doctor said to me, “Tell him that you’re cured, an eight-year-old will understand that, that you are cured.” And so I did, I said, “I saw the doctor today and he said I’m cured.” And his face changed, he said, “A hundred percent totally cured?” I said, “Yeah.”

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Oh, that’s beautiful. That is beautiful.

Rosanne Cash:

One of my daughters came down to take care of me, and she was very strict. She wouldn’t let me talk to people too long or do anything to stress myself. My kids are great. I’ve learned so much from them. I’ve learned more from them than anyone.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

What did you learn about love from them?

Rosanne Cash:

That it’s particular that . . . A mother can love unconditionally and love all of her children, but they’re all different, and they need different ways of having it expressed.

So what you think is going to work for this kid, because it works for this kid, doesn’t. They don’t perceive love in that; they perceive something else. So fine tuning your expressions of love for each kid. And then they’ll say to me, even now they’re grown up, “You love her more than you love me.” I said, “Nope, each one of you has a space in my heart that is exactly fitted to who you are.”

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Love is particular and make it fit to the other person. I love that.

Rosanne Cash:

Yeah.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I love that very much, yeah. Okay. So a few last things, quick questions, if you may.

Rosanne Cash:

Sure.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

What piece of art, work that you can always go to for inspiration?

Rosanne Cash:

It’s so funny because the Joan of Arc painting at the Met, whenever I go to the Met, I find her and I just stand in front of her and go, “You are two things. You are delusional, which is inspiring. And you’re a cautionary tale, because you’re delusional.” [laughs]

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Brilliant, brilliant. I love that. I love that. A movie that you always watch, you always go to for solace or for joy?

Rosanne Cash:

All About Eve.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Oh, I love that movie.

Rosanne Cash:

Oh my God. I love it. It’s because I love the theater, and I love all of the backstage dramas of the theater, and same in the music business. And it’s Bette Davis, and also the script is so tight and snappy and witty. I just love it. I’ve watched it so many times. Oh, the other one is 84 Charing Cross Road.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

That I don’t know.

Rosanne Cash:

:86 Charing Cross Road, 84. Oh, you must watch it, it’s beautiful.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I will. I will for sure. And do you have a poem that you always go to or a poet?

Rosanne Cash:

I like the Philip Larkin poem “An Arundel Tomb” for several reasons, because Philip Larkin was a kind of misanthropic person. And yet he wrote this poem, that is so beautiful, about a couple from medieval times that is buried together in the churchyard and they’re holding hands. And he describes the centuries of people who have passed by them. And there’s one line that says, “Snow fell undated.” So at the very last line of the poem is, “What will survive of us is love.” And he was so misanthropic. So I think he wrote that poem, somewhere in him, he knew. So even the most . . . people with so complicated and dark, somewhere in them, they know. That whole . . . what we talked about at the very beginning.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Absolutely. And I so believe that, yeah, I do believe that ultimately love is bigger than all, ultimately. Yeah.

Rosanne Cash:

Agree.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Yeah. And last but not least, a song that you go to.

Rosanne Cash:

Oh, that’s not fair.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I know it’s a hard one. I know, I know. But I asked Annie Lennox the same question. I was like, “It’s awkward to ask you this question, but can I ask you that question?”

Rosanne Cash:

Did she come up with one song?

Zainab Salbi (Host):

No, she came up with many.

Rosanne Cash:

Same here. I couldn’t come up with one because they’re . . . Different songs fit different times in your life, different moods, different needs. It’s like, if I need to cry, I go to “Adagio for Strings,” or this song called “And I Fell” by World Party, or—that was a song I listened to through my divorce several times a day—or I go to Ennio Morricone’s score for The Mission.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I love that one, oh.

Rosanne Cash:

Oh my God. And if I need to just move some energy, I might go to “Give Me Shelter,” or “Thunder Road,” or something like that. You know, it’s like there’s different songs that fit in different pieces of the puzzle.

[closing piano music]

Zainab Salbi (Host):

That was Rosanne Cash. You can learn more about her new music and days for her current tour at www.rosannecash.com. For transcripts and other resources from this episode, please go to www.findcenter.com/redefined. You can follow Rosanne on Twitter and Instagram @rosannecash. You can follow FindCenter on Instagram @find_center. And you can follow me @zainabsalbi. And please email me questions about this podcast and your own transformative moments at redefined@findcenter.com.

Thank you so much for listening. We’ll be back next week for another conversation about life’s turning points and lessons learned. My guest will be yogi, mystic, and visionary Sadhguru. Redefined is produced by me, Zainab Salbi, along with Rob Corso, Casey Kahn, and Howie Kahn at FreeTime Media. Our music is by John Palmer. Special thanks to David Bahm, Neal Goldman, Caroline Pincus, and Sherra Johnston. Looking forward to seeing you next time.