Sheryl Crow Exalts “Redemption Day” with Johnny Cash

Sheryl Crow makes good use of time. Every moment of her career has been dedicated to leading by example, making every note count and leaving each moment better than she found it.

On Wednesday (April 17) at the Cash Cabin Studios in Hendersonville, Tenn., when asked for her thoughts on apathy in the world, Crow said, “I would say there has always been apathy … But we know wrong from right. We just do. We need to be parents to our kids, to our villages, to our planet, and we are only here for a minute. We need to be the parents to all of that.”

John Shearer/Getty Images for The Valory Music Co.

Crow spoke of how the message in “Redemption Day” from her 1996 self-titled sophomore album embodied those attributes at Wednesday’s official video launch for the song’s new piano arrangement featuring the late Johnny Cash.

As a place that has hosted famous recording sessions with Loretta Lynn and many others, the location was arguably the most sacred musical place for the private event. Cash tracked half of his vocals there for the American albums he recorded with Rick Rubin. Before the screening, Crow joked that she wanted to scrape the microphone standing in the middle of the studio for its Cash DNA, find a way to clone him and get him to run for president. Cash’s son, John Carter Cash, who was standing next to Crow, laughed and said his father would never go for the Oval Office.

John Shearer/Getty Images for The Valory Music Co.

Cash recorded his rendition of “Redemption Day” in the same studio weeks before his death in 2003, and it was eventually released on 2010’s American VI: Ain’t No Grave. Crow’s 2019 piano version is a beautiful, barebones performance that showcases the lyrics’ metaphysical nature in a way that has never been expressed.

“This particular recording came full-circle over a long period,” Carter Cash said. “My brother-in-law, Jimmy Tittle, had a lot to do with my father first opening his mind to singing this song. Then all those years ago when we recorded that vocal in this cabin, there were just three of us here – me, my father and Jimmy — if I remember correctly.”

Directed by Shaun Silva and available Friday (April 19), the new cinematic video has Crow and Cash exchanging verses while scenes depicting catastrophic events that rocked history intersperse Crow performing on an antique piano and vintage footage of Cash while a little boy standing at a window takes in the evolution of today’s world.

The release is the first song from Crow’s forthcoming duets album from Big Machine’s Valory Music Co., a company that, President/CEO Scott Borchetta revealed during the presentation, gets its name from Valerie June Carter Cash. Featuring a litany of all-star guests including Maren Morris, Joe Walsh, Eric Clapton, Stevie Nicks, Keith Richards and Don Henley, the compilation will be Crow’s final album release.

“This is my way of saying I loved what I had,” Crow explained. “Young people don’t have that. And that’s okay. I like the idea of putting out a song like a tweet.”

John Shearer/Getty Images for The Valory Music Co.

Regarding Cash’s initial reaction to “Redemption Day,” she said, “Johnny got on the phone and asked me a ton of questions, just grilled me about what this line meant and what that line meant. He was adamant about knowing so that when he sang it, it would feel like it was his.

“That’s why we loved him,” she added. “We loved him not only for who he was but what he stood for. He was very outspoken. He was a great American in my estimation. He stood for the rights of Native Americans, and he stood out against the Vietnam War and the Iraq War, and he didn’t care about radio. He was who he was, and he was going to say his peace, and he was going to stand up for what he believed.”

Crow just performed at the 2019 Tortuga Music Festival in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Her tour schedule resumes June 9 at the LaureLive Music Festival in Novelty, Ohio.

Lauren Tingle is a Tennessean and storyteller who eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When she’s not writing or rocking out, she enjoys yoga and getting lost in the great outdoors.