The First and the Worst Benefit: A ‘Lesson in Humiliation’ for Hit Writers [PICTURES]
On Wednesday night (March 1), famed songwriters Rosanne Cash, Steve Wariner, Sonny Curtis and Frank Rogers took the stage at Nashville’s City Winery, ready to embarrass themselves a little bit. As part of the third annual The First And The Worst concert, to benefit the Music Health Alliance, the four tunesmiths were tasked with performing the first song they ever wrote, the worst song they’ve written — and a few of their big hits.
Cash, who performed a couple of songs she wrote early in her career, including “This Has Happened Before” and “Love Has Lost Again,” tells The Boot that singing some of her less-memorable songs is a “lesson in humiliation,” but one she is willing to endure for such a good cause.
“Nobody likes public humiliation,” she admits, “but we’re all jumping off the cliff for Music Health Alliance.”
Rodney Crowell, who is on the board of the Music Health Alliance, was the evening’s surprise guest. Together, he and Cash (who were married from 1979 until 1992) performed “I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me.”
“This cause is important to me because I’m a member of the creative community in Nashville. Most touring artists can’t afford to provide health care for the musicians that work with them,” Crowell explains. “Nashville is a giant community of creative people, and many of them, you would have to consider middle class. In the middle class of the music business, it’s hard to come up with health care. It’s expensive … I’m in a position in the community where I can organize and help, and that’s what I want to do.”
Other stand-out performances from The First and the Worst 2017 included Wariner performing “I’m Already Taken” and “Holes in the Floor of Heaven;” Curtis performing one of the first songs he wrote as a child, called “Moon, Moon, Silvery Moon,” Keith Whitley‘s hit, “I’m No Stranger To The Rain,” and the theme song to The Mary Tyler Moore Show; and Rogers performing Darius Rucker‘s “This” and Brad Paisley‘s “I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin’ Song),” as well as his humorous tune “Playing Possum,” which earned him the Crappy Award, for the night’s worst song.
Readers can flip through the photo gallery above to see photos from The First and the Worst 2017. The Music Health Alliance provides free support to songwriters, artists, musicians and music industry professionals in finding affordable healthcare solutions and financial resources.
“I have met so many musicians, over decades, who got really ill and couldn’t pay their medical bills,” Cash remembers. “I’ve participated in many, many tribute albums, tribute concerts, to raise money to help pay their bills; it’s just heartbreaking. Music Health Alliance has stepped into the breech to give client services, and to find financial resources for a lot of musicians who would just suffocate under the weight of their medical bills.”
The First and the Worst 2017 raised $95,000 for the Music Health Alliance. For more information about the Music Health Alliance, or to make a donation, visit their website.