CMT Crossroads, with Willie Nelson - Sony Pictures Studios, Culver City, Los Angeles, CA -
May 21st, 2002
By Dan MacIntosh

CULVER CITY, CAL. - CMT's Crossroads made its first trek out west (at the corner of Washington and Overland, to be exact) as Sony Pictures Studios hosted a little musical interaction between Willie Nelson (country icon) and Sheryl Crow (emerging rock artist and hottie).

The program, set to debut Sunday, June 16 8 p.m., eastern/pacific on CMT, was nothing even close to a display of marked musical contrasts. This is because both of these artists are all about putting the song first, only one of them (Crow) just happens to rock out a little harder.

Nelson and Crow are the most relaxed musicians you'll ever want to see. Willie performs while standing almost statuesque, and never makes any fast moves - even though Crow's zipper-top kept incrementally sliding down before his very eyes.

Crow also sings with a languidly measured style, yet she couldn't always hide the excitement of being up on stage with one of her idols. Along the way, Nelson told a few corny jokes (which were also, by the way, the only clean jokes Crow had ever heard him tell). The two also answered audience questions during a brief intermission. Greg Martin, who came off fine with his scripted lines, hosted.

The songs they chose included a little of his, a little or hers and a few covers. Crow's high harmonizing next to Nelson's plain-spoken phrasing on The Everly Brothers' "Let It Be Me" worked wonders, but their flat take on Johnny and June Carter Cash's "Jackson" was a big mistake. June playfully growls like a lion at Johnny whenever she sings this with her "sweet talkin' man," but Crow managed only a slight purr.

For the most part, Nelson's quiet voice was overwhelmed whenever Crow revved up one of her rockers, such as "Everyday Is A Winding Road." But with his own gentler "Crazy," and "You Remain" - from his new "The Great Divide" - their voices were magical together.

There isn't anything like a great divide between what Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow do, so this collaboration merely highlighted how these two troubadours are travelers on the same winding road.


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