Rosanne Cash’s tackles America’s disgraceful history of lynchings in her searing new song “The Killing Fields.”
“The blood that runs on cypress trees/cannot be washed away,” Cash sings over a sparse arrangement provided by her musical partner and husband John Leventhal. “By mothers’ tears and gasoline/and secrets un-betrayed.”
“A few years of my own personal reckoning with painful issues of race, racism, privilege, reconciliation, and individual responsibility led up to the moment in the summer of 2020, when finally no one could avert their eyes from the truth of white privilege in America, and the damage and sorrow caused by systemic racism,” Cash said of her new song. “I wrote ‘The Killing Fields’ in that summer.”
On April 9th, Cash will release a 7″ vinyl edition of the song with her 2020 single “Crawl Into the Promised Land.” Proceeds from the vinyl sales benefit the Arkansas Peace & Justice Memorial Movement, which aims to raise awareness about the history of lynchings in the state of Arkansas.
In 2017, Cash called out the Americana community, of which she is a central part, for not doing more to include and center black musicians. “The Americana community needs to embrace more black musicians,” she said. “I, for one, wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if there wasn’t some black musician who had suffered in the South. That needs to be honored, and if amends need to be made, they need to be made.”