Music biographies and autobiographies are often dry, stubbornly factual affairs, impenetrable to all but the most dedicated fans. Composed isn’t that way at all. Cash herself prepares us for the difference in the introduction: “This is not a chronological fact-check of my life, and I am sure my sisters or my husband or my children remember some of these events very differently. I have abandoned my reliance on the external facts to support an individual truth, and everyone is entitled to his or her own.”
The result is an approachable, lovely memoir brimming with humor and humanity, one that never loses its voice even as it navigates matters of divorce, addiction, death, and brain surgery. Cash has a novelist’s sense of detail, a keen ability to choose the most telling memories and convey them in the most artfully economical fashion. She treats her subjects (including herself) charitably, never painting them into corners, always allowing for their foibles and complexities.
Through it all, she’s her own woman, smart and urbane as heck but with sense enough to laugh at herself and obvious affection for the family that produced her, and the happy home life she has gone on to create for herself as an adult.
This isn’t just a great Rosanne Cash memoir. It’s a great memoir, period, recommended equally to those interested in Cash’s life and career and to those who just love to read great writing.