The Grammy darling takes on midgets, Matt Lauer and her favorite mistake

by Corey Levitan

Sheryl Crow still wants to have some fun, but that's not all she wants anymore. The sultry hippie chick from Kennett, Missouri, has done a lot of growing up since 1993, when she burst onto the charts with Tuesday Night Music Club.

She's wrangled with Wal-Mart (which refused to stock her second album over its anti-gun lyrics), conquered depression, moved to New York, romanced the crème de la Cream (Eric Clapton) and been linked to Jakob Dylan and even--gasp!--Matt Lauer. (She's currently stepping out with actor and Rushmore screenwriter Owen Wilson.)

More important, at 37, Crow has developed into a notable artist. She recently picked up her sixth Grammy, beating out Hole, Dave Matthews and Garbage to nab Best Rock Album for The Globe Sessions.

And soon she'll test herself on the big screen, with a role in The Minus Man, directed by Blade Runner screenwriter Hampton Fancher.

She's even talking about becoming a mom. But that'll have to wait--at least until she finishes the current tour.

Let's start with the important stuff...why did you cut your hair? Looking for a new image?
No. I'm not a person who's too terribly interested in the whole image trip--we still haven't had a photo shoot since I cut my hair, so it's not like I'm really capitalizing on it. I just got tired of having long hair. I had it for so long, and to be perfectly honest, every time I saw a poster of Madonna, I felt like I was looking at myself!

You've also moved to New York City. What drew you there?
I find that in New York I'm out all the time, whether I have plans or not. I'm constantly meeting people and doing things. I'm constantly seeing people play, which I don't ever do in L.A., where you just sit at home waiting for someone to call.

What part of Manhattan do you live in? I picture you in SoHo for some reason.
I live downtown--but I'm not going to tell you exactly where. [Laughs.] Not SoHo. And not Tribeca, either, although I was actually trying to move into that area--but the co-op board wouldn't even meet me.

Why not?
They didn't want any celebrity types. I think they were afraid of having another John F. Kennedy Jr. in their apartment. That was a new, interesting experience for me.

How did moving to New York influence the songs on The Globe Sessions?
Wherever you're recording, influences seep in. Certainly on the second record, when I was in New Orleans, a lot of those influences surfaced. The experience of moving to New York was all-encompassing, because I was moving everything I knew to a new situation where I didn't know that many people. But I think New York gave me enough time to get some perspective, and I think that's really what the album was inspired by--perspective.

The Globe Sessions is certainly a lot more personal than anything you've ever released.
I think it's kind of clinical sounding. It has this strangely out-of-body kind of feeling, the feeling of somebody who's moved enough to talk about the pain of having relationships.

I know you don't normally like to talk about those relationships in interviews, but I have to ask: Who is "My Favorite Mistake" about?
It's probably about several different people. I could safely say I've had a couple of relationships I really enjoyed, that I knew right off the bat were not going to be, in the long run, constant.

Would the names Eric and Jakob be on that list?
Jakob Dylan? Well, if you're talking about rumors, then you could also mention Matt Lauer. I was engaged to him at one point, I understand. There are a number of names you could certainly throw in the pot. And the thing about it is the deepest and most long-lasting relationships I've had were with people who are not famous.

You're still dating Owen Wilson?
Yeah, we still go together.

What sort of person are you attracted to?
I'm really attracted to funny people, who have a big laugh and a good sense of humor. A lot of times when you run into people with a sharp wit, that comes from intelligence, so I guess that's part of it, too. I'm very attracted to people who are curious and expressive. I wind up with people who are either musicians or writers.

There's a hidden track at the end of The Globe Sessions (referred to as "Subway Ride"), which seems to be about the Clinton sex scandal. What's your opinion on the outcome?
I think it's a real low point in history. It put the country in a bad situation, and I was sick of seeing it in the press. I'm still sick of it. For me, it ruined the Oscars. I got sick of every joke being about politics, Monica Lewinsky and cigars. I think it's dragged us through the gutter enough.

The first album you recorded for A&M was never released. What was wrong with it?
By the time we finished, I felt the songs had been flogged, beaten up so much. And I didn't really like the production. It was very immature. It didn't really represent who I was. And it really worried me about putting it out. It was so slick it was never going to sound good onstage. It was very lush, like Sting--not to knock Sting, but it wasn't the kind of record I wanted to make.

What finally happened?
Luckily, my label didn't force me to put it out. But I hear you can still find bootlegged copies of it in some places, for, like, $100 each.

You've never really talked about Kevin Gilbert, with whom you wrote much of your first album. His death by autoerotic asphyxiation must have been a huge shock. Can I ask how it affected you?
I still, every once in a while, dream about him, about seeing him somewhere. It was a real waste. I feel that way about people who die young--like Michael Hutchence--who have so much they haven't accomplished yet. In Kevin's case, it made me really sad. What people didn't realize was I had real strong feelings about him. Up until he died, we still had a relationship, although it was always very up and down. I read some really nasty stuff. For a long time, I didn't do any interviews, because I found the press to be so heartless. I read in a San Francisco newspaper that I was responsible for his killing himself. He actually didn't kill himself--it was an accident.

It's interesting you mentioned Hutchence. His death was eventually ruled a suicide, but there were initial rumors that he died the same way as Kevin.

I had just spent a summer with Michael in Europe, and he had so much energy and enthusiasm. But I think he had dark energy, too, and that was also true with Kevin.

I read that you went on antidepressants years ago. Are you still on them?
Well, no, I don't take them. But I think at that time, it was very beneficial for me to get myself out of a very bad state. I have the propensity to get down--not necessarily because of any event but because of my chemical makeup. I understand it better now, so it's not as frightening. It doesn't throw me into the depths of despair when I feel that sort of low coming on.

Do you think it's hard being a woman doing what you do, or is it a nonissue?
It's becoming a nonissue. What has prevented women from having the careers that men have had is the fact that they are the matriarchs of the home. They're what keeps it together. A man can go off and work on an oil rig for months at a time, but the home nucleus stays together because the woman keeps it together. But now that women are having the careers men have had, they're starting to have the longevity in music men have had. And seeing women taking their children on the road challenges the traditional stereotypes.

Do you ever want to have kids?
Yeah, absolutely. I love kids. But I'm three years away from 40, which is probably when I'll start entering a real danger period. I'm just a person who believes that what's gonna happen is what's gonna happen.

What's next for you?
Right now, I'm focused on this tour.

It's a little different for you, isn't it? You're playing some bass?
Yeah, that's different. But also, we've brought out really interesting production stuff we've been working on--using Super 8 film and a lot of projection stuff. It's very artful and interesting. The last few years, we basically had a couple of curtains we drew up and played the music.

Any giant inflatable dolls?
No. No dancing midgets, no pyro and no stripping, either. [Laughs.] I'm not even taking my top off.

Source : E! 1999



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