NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Sheryl Crow released a new version of her song “Redemption Day” on Friday in a duet with Country music legend Johnny Cash, as well as a powerful music video.
Crow originally wrote and recorded the song after returning home from a trip to Bosnia where she played for the troops.
“When I came home, I was just deeply affected. Not only having played for all these young faces, but also just having seen this warn-torn area, and yet on TV, all the coverage was on Rwanda and the genocide,” Crow said. “(The song) was just really asking the question of why? Why do we go into some areas and other areas we don’t invest our human resources to protect other people?”
“Redemption Day” was released on her 1996 album “Sheryl Crow,” and years later, Crow got a call about the song she wasn’t expecting.
“Johnny’s son-in-law called and said, ‘I played the song "Redemption Day" that you wrote for my father-in-law, he wants to record it, he feels like he has more to say.’”
That was in 2003 right after June had passed away. Cash started recording music almost right away, and this was a song he wanted to learn more about, and eventually record.
“He got on the phone and asked me all kinds of questions and a couple weeks later, he sent me the demo that he’d done and it was brilliant,” Crow explained, adding, “He said, ‘this is the cornerstone of my next record. I feel like it’s so important.’ And then a few weeks later he passed.”
Cash’s version of the song went unheard for years, but in 2010, it was released to the world with a message that rang as true and relevant as when Crow first recorded it.
“I felt like when I wrote the song it was important in that moment, and Johnny felt like when he recorded it, it was important that moment,” Crow explained.
On tour in 2014, Crow started playing the song as a duet with Cash, and now she has released a new version of the song that is a true duet with Johnny Cash, featuring a piano backing instead of guitar backing for the track.
“I can’t think of a more important time for it to come out with what we’re going through as a nation and as a world and as a mom raising my children and trying to instill in them what it means to believe in the importance of truth and how we treat each other with empathy.”
Along with the song, Crow released a powerful music video with images of genocide, environmental destruction, national tragedies, and other topics in between video of her performing the song, and video of Cash.
Much of the video depicts a child seeing all of this unfold, and Crow hopes that people realize that what they do matters, especially when it comes to teaching children.
“We are all going on the same train when we check out of here, and it does matter what you say and how you treat people and what you stand for,” Crow said. “If I never made another bit of music, I would feel like, this was the moment that I hope I was defined by.”
The song is the first released from her upcoming album, expected later this year, that will feature collaborations with friends of Crow, including Stevie Nicks, Keith Richards, and others.
Crow said that this will be her final full-length traditional album, but she will still plan to write, record, and release music in the future, just not in the traditional album format.