My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Single Review: Rodney Crowell feat. John Paul White and Rosanne Cash – ‘It Ain’t Over Yet’

maxresdefaultThe celebrity marriage is the stuff of legend in country music, where iconic pairs either come together as the loves in each other’s lives or break apart as fame and fortune stuck their formidable wedge where it shouldn’t belong. The success rate hasn’t been high, which should be expected, from pairs in such an industry.

One such union is that of Rodney Crowell and Rosanne Cash. The pair met when he produced three tracks on her European-Only debut album. She would venture to California to play with his band The Cherry Bombs. They married in 1979 and had their first child in 1980 and moved to Nashville the following year. Cash and Crowell would divorce in 1992.

They’re back together twenty-five years later for “It Ain’t Over Yet,” which finds Crowell tracing their love story in song, from his perspective:

For fools like me who were built for the chase

It takes a right kind of woman to help you put it all in place

It only happened one in my life but man, you should have seen

Her hair two shades of foxtail red

Her eyes some far-out sea blue-green

With stark honesty, he goes on to blame himself for their demise:

I got caught up making a name for myself

You know what that’s about

One day your ship comes rolling in

The next day it rolls right back out

And you can’t take for granted

None of this shit

The higher up you fly boys

The harder it is you’re gonna get hit

Cash takes the reins on the final verse:

I’ve known you forever and ever and ever it’s true

If you came by it easy you wouldn’t be you

You make me laugh

You make me cry

You make me forget myself

I do love the message that in love as in life, we’re only human:

It ain’t over yet

Ask someone who oughta know

Not so very long ago

We were both hung out to dry

It ain’t over yet

You can mark my word

I don’t care what you think you heard

We’re still learning how to fly

It ain’t over yet

There’s so much about this song to admire. “It Ain’t Over Yet” is devoid of animosity, which is remarkable, and paints time as an almighty healer. Crowell, as a songsmith, has never been sharper with his imagery or conviction.

The record itself, though, suffers from overcrowding. As much as I admire John Paul White’s contributions, and his buttery vocal is gorgeous, what is he doing here? He plays an intermediary in an intimate moment that would’ve ultimately shone brighter if it were left to Crowell and Cash alone. That version would’ve been transcendent. This one is a hair slightly below, although still very much worthy.

Grade: A-

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One response to “Single Review: Rodney Crowell feat. John Paul White and Rosanne Cash – ‘It Ain’t Over Yet’

  1. Luckyoldsun February 1, 2017 at 1:28 am

    Interesting review, JP. You suggest that the presence of John Paul White on the recording creates a barrier between Rodney Crowell and Rosanne Cash as they revisit their real-life relationship. It’s dangerous to presume to know what artists are thinking, but it’s possible that Crowell invited White to participate for precisely that reason. You don’t mention it, but Rodney and Rosanne are both remarried–to other people. Rosanne, in fact, has a teenage son with her husband Jon Leventhal. Maybe, in deference to their current situations, Rodney and Rosanne didn’t want the recording–(with its title, “It Ain’t Over Yet”!)–to be perceived as literally and explicitly about their own actual relationship–and the other singer was brought in to create that barrier and make the song a bit less personal and more universal.
    Everything Rodney Crowell and Rosanne Cash put out is worth hearing. I’ve never heard of White, but he’s great here, too.

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