[ARTICLE] Sheryl Crow: 'I guess I'm a dinosaur" (USA Today)
special for USA TODAY
18 April 2017
NASHVILLE — On rolling countryside just outside of Nashville, in a rambling two-story house with aged wood floors and artfully mismatched vintage furnishings, Sheryl Crow has built an ideal home where she and her sons, Wyatt, 9, and Levi, 6, can spend time together.
The road to this retreat winds through some woods, passes a barn that serves as a rehearsal space and former stables filled now with recording equipment. It’s close enough to Music City to make trips into town easy yet secluded so that intrusions are limited to birds and the occasional whistling wind.
Yet here in her study, seated near her piano and a crackling fire, she seems momentarily regretful.
“Everything seems to be hate-filled,” she muses, resigned and maybe a little angry. “Sometimes it feels like not being able to detox from a really bad trip.”
How can this be? More important, what can a nine-time Grammy Award winner do about it? The first question requires more deliberation. The answer to the second is simple: Make an album. But not just any album.
Be Myself, out Friday , chronicles Crow’s concerns about life in the here and now. To convey this message, the 55-year-old artist left that country-oriented path she explored four years ago on Feels Like Home.
“The country market is a lot different than I thought it would be,” she admits. “This is not to slag country but their songs now are totally sexist. I’d fooled myself into thinking that my roots and my knowledge of country music were why I should be at country radio. And I was wrong.”
Clearly it was time for a reality check, which for Crow meant pulling out and playing her earliest albums for the first time in years. “I was thirsting to get back to how I felt on my second record (Sheryl Crow, 1996), a kind of desperate liberation. That need to feel the innocence of being creative was crucial for me.”
Working with Jeff Trott and Tchad Blake, two key collaborators from her early releases, she crafted raw, rocky songs that address learning from the passage of time (Long Way Back Home), consider the benefits of shutting off your cell phone now and then (Roller Skate) and sound a few political alarms (Heartbeat Away).
The exhilaration Crow felt throughout these sessions is implicit in the title Be Myself. “There’s something really fantastic about being my age,” she says. “I don’t worry about repeating myself or wanting to be a better producer, a better songwriter, a better this or that. On this record I was like, screw that. Let’s just close the door and not worry about who hears this.
“I know I’m not writing for 20-year-olds,” she continues. “I made this record for adults. I don’t worry about getting it on the radio. My first record (Tuesday Night Music Club, 1993) was so huge that even though I wasn’t writing for the radio, there was this big weight for the second album of, ‘OK, maybe radio could play this too!’ It was kind of like a curse.”
Crow scratches the head of Benji, her 156-pound Pyrenean Mastiff, who had wandered in and settled on the floor next to her.
She reflects, “In the old days you’d sleep during the day and write and record furiously all night because there was something altruistic about making music that could save the world. Now Jeff and I are just a couple of old dudes in the studio.”
Of course it’s hard to keep all-nighter hours when you’ve got two sons to raise. For Be Myself Crow and her team had to work during school hours. Once the boys came back home, she switched to family mode, which includes acting on some of the themes addressed in her lyrics.
“I’ve turned into one of those people that young rock ‘n’ rollers hate,” she says, with a laugh. “I don’t like them turning on pop radio and hearing songs about sex — and that’s all that’s on there, 18-year-olds singing about ‘the taste of you.’ If everything is about branding and we’re branding sex as power, what does that say to little girls and little boys? What does that say about beauty?”
She sighs and smiles. “I guess I’m a dinosaur. But I like it.”