HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. — Sheryl Crow has released a political and spiritual song about war featuring vocals from the late Johnny Cash that will be featured on what she says is her last full-length album.
Crow’s “Redemption Day” was originally included on her Grammy-winning 1996 self-titled album and later recorded by Cash and released after his death in 2003. Neither song was released as a single, but Crow would sometimes play her version alongside Cash’s when she played live.
Crow recorded a new version of the song, trading her guitar for a piano and adding his vocals for a haunting duet that was released Friday along with a music video featuring archival footage of Cash.
During a visit to the Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee, where Cash’s vocals were recorded, Crow told The Associated Press that she wrote the song after visiting troops during the war in Bosnia.
“When I came home, all over the news was this genocide going on in Rwanda,” Crow explained. “I was so emotional about what I’d seen and what I was seeing at home and trying to put everything together as to why we go into some places and other places we don’t.”
Crow, who later sang at the funerals of both June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash, said “The Man in Black” called her to ask if he could record the song. Crow said she knew the lyrics spoke to him because of his anti-war stance.
“To hear him singing that right now is just extremely powerful and profound,” Crow said.
John Carter Cash, the son of Johnny and June, said his father would never record any songs he didn’t agree with.
“I’m so grateful that Sheryl has the courage to make these statements, and I know that my father also joins with her in heart or he never would have recorded it in the first place,” Cash said.
The accompanying video features the two singers, along with historical footage of war, genocide, and political and social movements.
The song is from Crow’s upcoming album for Valory Music Co., which will also include duets with Keith Richards, Stevie Nicks, and Eagles members Don Henley and Joe Walsh among others. No release date for the album has been announced.
Crow has said in the past that she will stop making albums, and she reiterated that to the AP. She feels the music industry has changed to a playlist and singles-based model, and while she loves albums, she would rather release individual songs that are timelier and more immediate.
“I can’t see making another album top to bottom,” Crow said. “It takes a lot of time, a lot of energy and a lot of money, and you have songs on there that you absolutely love and that mean so much to you that never get heard.”
Kristin M. Hall, The Associated Press