“Seven Year Ache”
Written by Rosanne Cash
#1 (1 week)
May 23, 1981
Rosanne Cash arrives, and she brings with her a lyrical sophistication unlike anything else on the radio in 1981.
Rosanne is the eldest daughter of Johnny Cash, and was born while her father was still based out of Memphis, recording sides for Sun Records. She grew up wanting to be an actress, and pursued that passion at Vanderbilt University and a theatre institute in California. A fortuitous connection with Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris led to her recording a demo, which caught the attention of a German record label. Though she recorded an album with them, it was a terrible experience, with the positive outcome being a U.S. record deal with CBS in Nashville.
Her first album for CBS, Right or Wrong, produced two top twenty and and an additional top thirty hit. The lead single and title track from her next album became her first of eleven No. 1 country singles, all during the eighties.
“Seven Year Ache” started as a long poem, and reflected Cash’s determination to make a great country street song like the ones she heard on Rickie Lee Jones albums. The result is a strikingly cinematic record, aided by strings arranged by Emory Gordy Jr. but driven by Cash’s exceptional talent as a lyricist: “Don’t bother calling to say you’re leaving alone ’cause there’s a fool on every corner when you’re trying to get home.”
She’s not actually with him on his downtown jaunt, but her vivid imagination captures every dirty deed he’s probably going to do, even if he doesn’t know it himself yet, because the girls are going to fall for him just as hard as she did: “Boys say, ‘when is he gonna give us some room,’ the girls say, ‘God, I hope he comes back soon.'”
This is the first of three No. 1 singles from Seven Year Ache, and remains her biggest crossover hit, reaching the top thirty of the Hot 100.
“Seven Year Ache” gets an A.
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