Sheryl Crow Duets With Johnny Cash on Powerful New Recording of ‘Redemption Day’ [Listen]
Crow wrote "Redemption Day" after accompanying then-First Lady Hillary Clinton to Bosnia, where she visited military families and performed for the troops. When she returned home, the news was all about the genocide taking place in Rwanda at the same time.
“We had all these resources tied up in Bosnia, and I kept thinking about how and why do we choose where to get involved," Crow reflects. "Is it desire for control, greed for oil — what is it?”
As Crow recalls, the song ended up being a “diatribe from somewhere in my subconscious" about the motivations and realities of war. She included it on her triple platinum, Grammy-winning Sheryl Crow album in 1996, and in 2003 she received word that Cash wanted to talk to her after his son-in-law played him the song.
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“He asked a lot of questions about different lines and what I meant,” she recalls. “He didn’t want to put his voice to the song without being able to believe it heart and soul.”
Cash recorded the song and intended it to be a key track for his next album, but he died in September of 2003, and his rendition didn't end up seeing the light of day until his posthumous American VI: Ain’t No Grave in 2010. Crow performed "Redemption Day" as a duet with Cash while on tour in 2014 by projecting his image onscreen, which gave her the idea to approach his estate about using his voice for a new duet recording. The result is something that she hopes conveys a powerful message in troubled times.
“With what’s happening in our nation now, and how dire things look, to have Johnny’s voice offers some hope,” she says. “Knowing how he felt about the song, I feel pretty certain that he would have some wisdom to impart about what’s happening now and who we are becoming. I hope that wherever he is, he feels proud to be a part of it — I certainly feel his presence in the song.”
"Redemption Day" is one of the new tracks on an album of collaborations that Crow will release in the summer of 2019. Willie Nelson, Maren Morris, Stevie Nicks, Joe Walsh, Emmylou Harris and Brandi Carlile are among the artists she has collaborated with for the project.
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