Thirty-eight years ago today, on May 23, 1981, Rosanne Cash earned her first No. 1 single with “Seven Year Ache.” The song, written by Cash, was the title track of and debut single from her third studio album.
At the time, Cash was married to Rodney Crowell , who produced the Seven Year Ache album. With poignant lines such as, “Everybody’s talking, but you don’t hear a thing / You’re still uptown on your downhill swing / Boulevard’s empty, why don’t you come around? / Baby, what is so great about sleeping downtown? … Just tell ’em you’re trying to cure a seven-year ache / See what else your old heart can take / The boys say, ‘When is he gonna give us some room?’ / The girls say, ‘God I hope he comes back soon,'” “Seven Year Ache” was rumored to be written about Crowell, whom Cash wed in 1979. However, Cash says that the inspiration for the tune actually came from Rickie Lee Jones’ 1979 debut album.
“I was so moved by it and so inspired,” Cash recalls . “I thought, ‘There’s never been a country song about street life, about life on the streets.’ So I started writing it, a very long poem, four pages, and then I turned it into a song.”
“Seven Year Ache” kicked off a series three chart-topping hits in a row for Cash. “My Baby Thinks He’s a Train” and “Blue Moon With Heartache,” both from Seven Year Ache , followed the album’s title track to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. “Seven Year Ache” also earned Cash an ACM Awards nomination, for Single Record of the Year, and helped her earn a nod for Album of the Year, for Seven Year Ache .
“Seven Year Ache” was included on several of Cash’s compilation albums, including Hits 1979-1989 in 1989, The Very Best of Rosanne Cash in 2005 and The Essential Rosanne Cash in 2011. The song is available for download on iTunes .