My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: The Cherry Bombs

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-

Spotlight Artist – Rodney Crowell

Born in Houston, Texas on August 6, 1950, Rodney Crowell has made a name for himself as one of the finest songwriters in country music.  A difficult family background was also a very musical one and he was a serious musician by his teens.  He moved to Nashville in 1972 to pursue his vocation as a songwriter, and found a first mentor in Jerry Reed before becoming a friend and acolyte of another great Texan songwriter, Guy Clark.

His career took a new turn when Emmylou Harris, who had recorded some of his early songs, recruited him as a seminal member of her Hot Band.  He also had a side project with the Cherry Bombs, a band whose other members included Vince Gill and future record executive Tony Brown.  In 1978 he signed his own deal with Emmylou’s label Warner Brothers.  He was to release three albums for the label in the late 70s and early 80s, but while his blend of country and rock garnered him significant critical acclaim, mainstream success was frustratingly slow to follow.  It certainly wasn’t due to poor material – many of his songs were hits for more established artists including Emmylou and the Oak Ridge Boys and even Crystal Gayle.

Rodney married Johnny Cash’s daughter Rosanne, and in 1981, he put his solo career on hold in favour of producing her records.  That led eventually to his signing with her label Columbia in 1986.  Street Language, his debut for the label was another flop, but it was followed in 1988 by Diamonds & Dirt.  This masterpiece was both a critical and commercial success, with Rodney having mastered a radio friendly sound.  It was the first album in country music history to contain five #1 hits, and is the biggest selling record in Crowell’s career.  The song ‘After All This Time’ won him a Grammy.  However, his hot streak slowed down after that and was not reinvigorated by a move to another major label, MCA, in 1992 (the year he and Rosanne divorced).

After a break from recording in the later 90s, Rodney returned to making music in the new millennium.  He was now primarily a singer songwriter with increasingly less concern for mainstream country, with 2008’s Sex And Gasoline Grammy-nominated in the Folk/Americana category.  He has nonetheless remainded a presence in country music thanks to a number of high profile covers of both older and newer songs, such as George Strait’s revival of ‘Stars On The Water’ and Tim McGraw’s version of Rodney’s ‘Please Remember Me’. He also revived the Notorious Cherry Bombs with Vince Gill.  His latest work, out on 5 June, is a collaboration with poet and writer Mary Karr, who like Rodney had a difficult childhood in Texas.  He is also reportedly working on a duet album with Emmylou Harris.