Rosanne Cash featuring Bruce Springsteen, “Sea of Heartbreak”

rosanne-cash_12Rosanne Cash previews her collection of classic popular songs with a spin on the Don Gibson classic “Sea of Heartbreak.” The impact of Cash’s music usually depends on her incisive songwriting, but she’s had success in the past with well-chosen covers.

Her take on “Sea of Heartbreak” works because of her restrained delivery, with the light and floaty arrangement suggesting that these are calm waters. The undercurrent of grief reveals itself through the guest appearance of Bruce Springsteen. His ragged vocal provides a strong contrast to Cash’s sweet delivery.

The resulting record turns a song that all of us have heard countless times before into something new. That’s always the challenge that needs to be met when covering a standard, so this is a promising preview of Cash’s upcoming set.

Written by Hal David and Paul Hampton

Grade: A-

Listen: Sea of Heartbreak


  1. I’m on board. I’m excited about this album. I love Rosanne’s tasteful productions this decade. I think Bruce kind of sounds like he’s channeling Roy Orbison a little bit here. His voice is a bit loungier than usual.

    Soul Miner’s Daughter, have you ever checked out his Seeger Sessions album? That’s what got me to even give Bruce a chance. Before that, I wasn’t a fan. I still don’t get into his eighties stuff, but I really like his music from this decade.

  2. Here’s the full version on Rhapsody:

    I like it, though it’s almost too subdued, especially since the original Don Gibson version has a jaunty beat and the ‘Bom, bom, bom’s of the background singer. A different take on the song, Rosanne and Bruce sound nice together.

    Here’s Don’s original:

    Another different take on the song That ai like very much is Jimmy Buffet and George Strait’s calypso style version on “License To Chill”.

    And here’s Johnny Cash’s version:

    An finally The Searchers:

  3. I have to say that this is perhaps my least favorite cut from The List, which is just terrific from start to finish. The arrangement is just a little too on-the-nose for my tastes. I think Springsteen’s name recognition is what led to “Sea of Heartbreak” having been pinned as the first single, since it has an outside shot at AAA radio airplay.

    Good pickup on the Roy Orbison vocal turn from Springsteen, Leeann. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly who it was his phrasing reminded me of because it’s a pretty notable departure for him. I’m hit-or-miss when it comes to Sprinsteen, but I will second the recommendation of We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.

  4. if anyone happens to be in switzerland on november 7, 2009 the avo sessions, basel present rosanne cash & kris kristofferson in concert. tickets start at around $ 100.–. surely, some of the classic are gonna be played that night.

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