Sheryl Crow Recalls Johnny Cash’s Reaction to Hearing ‘Redemption Day’
Johnny Cash cut his version of Sheryl Crow's "Redemption Day" soon after his wife June died in 2003, but first demanded the pop-rocker-turned-country-songstress tell him what inspired it.
Crow and the Cash family were friends, so it was an easy conversation. "Redemption Day" was inspired by Crow's trip to Bosnia with then First Lady Hillary Clinton — the same trip during which Clinton would falsely claim her helicopter was shot at, a point of contention during her presidential campaigns (Crow confirmed it didn't happen, adding that she was there).
"When I came home from that trip I was so heavily impacted by what I’d seen, but then on TV the news was covering this awful genocide that was going on in Rwanda," she tells Taste of Country Nights. "I just couldn’t wrap my brain around why we would go into one country to help people and wouldn’t go into another country."
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Later she'd figure out the reality is, as she put it, that America has interests in some countries but not all.
"It's not always the most altruistic decision," she says. "Redemption Day" would be recorded for her 1996 self-titled album and then seven years later by Cash for what would become the American VI: Ain't No Grave album, which was released posthumously in 2010. He died just months after cutting it.
“Just hearing his powerful voice, knowing what was behind the man and what a great American and outspoken artist he was, to hear him on that then and definitely to hear him on it now has I think made the song more powerful," she says.
Now with two kids (age nine and 11), Crow says the song is even more relevant for her and for the world we live in. This she credits for why it's been able to live three times.
“I think it some ways it really makes you think about what we do in our lives that our children will mimic," the 57-year-old says. "And the idea is that there is hope and we’re all going to be on this train at the end of life.”
"Redemption Day" is going to be part of an album of collaborations that Crow says will be released later this summer. Willie Nelson, Maren Morris, Stevie Nicks, Joe Walsh, Emmylou Harris and Brandi Carlile are among the artist that she listed who are part of the album.
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