Friday 20 September 2019

Sheryl leans in, for the last time

Homage to the mothership... Sheryl Crow
Homage to the mothership... Sheryl Crow
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

A few years ago nine-time Grammy winner Sheryl Crow was asked about her heroes. She immediately went for Gandhi, before going for Keith Richards. George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Stevie Nicks. On the rollicking, anthem-like Prove You Wrong from her new album Threads, Sheryl sings with the Fleetwood Mac songstress along with Maren Morris, on some memorable three-part harmonies.

Like that other Sheryl - Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook - Crow is leaning in, for the last time on Threads. It is not an ordinary (allegedly) final album because Sheryl has some pretty big names on her Facebook or her speed-dial. So, everyone from Keith Richards (on The Worst), Neil Young (Cross Creek Road), to Willie Nelson (Lonely Alone), Eric Clapton and Sting (Beware Of Darkness), to the late Johnny Cash (Redemption Day - recorded in 2003, but kept until now), Kris Kristofferson (Border Lord) and Emmylou Harris (Nobody's Perfect), among many others, pop up on Threads' 17 tracks.

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Recording with the high and the mighty of the music world - albeit of a certain vintage - fits a certain narrative for Sheryl. She recently said that when she emerged into the spotlight in the grunge-era of circa 1994 with the melodic rock of All I Wanna Do from her debut album Tuesday Night Music Club, she felt "like a man without a country. All the cool kids were hanging out with Beck and Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder - and I was over here," she said, meaning ostracised.

Sheryl did go on to say that the likes of Don Henley, the Rolling Stones, Dylan and Eric Clapton took her under their musical wing. "To me, that's the mothership," she said. "It felt like, you know, I'd been asked to the prom! And I really wouldn't have it any other way."

And now, on a farewell album backed by Richards, Young, Cash, Nelson, Harris, Nicks and Kristofferson, Sheryl is well and truly on the mothership for one final ride. "I'm of the generation of people who actually bought albums," she said.

"That sounds like a million years old, but I guess by today's standards, I am a million years old. Threads just feels like a nice, neat, and tidy way to wrap up a 30-year-career of the tradition of making full artistic statements, which is basically what I grew up with," Crow said.

"The album has been a way for me to honour that, and honour all those musicians that ignited something in me," she told Vanity Fair magazine last month.

"When I reflect on my career, which I don't do very often, the fact that in my earliest days, instead of being embraced by my peers and the grunge scene and what was happening at the time when I was coming out - I was kind of pooh-poohed.

"But I was embraced by my heroes. The first year I got to sit in with the Rolling Stones, and I got to sit in with Bob Dylan - and just being able to look back on all of that and being able to pull it all back full circle for this album, it's felt like, OK, this is what this is."

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