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Sheryl Searches for Freedom

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

This week’s Free Ride* muses on the songs of Sheryl Crow, who turns 50 today. The 9-time Grammy winner got her start writing commercial jingles, then gained fame by singing background vocals and duets with the likes of Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger, before coming into her own as a solo artist in the 90s. She has many contributions to the songbook of freedom; two of them will give a good sampling of her artistry and social commitment. Her 1996 self-titled CD, Sheryl Crow, gives us Redemption Day, a straight-ahead critique of a violent and hateful world with pontificating leaders who are more interested in the riches of oil than the suffering of humanity. (One of her many duet partners, Johnny Cash, did a great cover of this song; it was released on the posthumous American V: Ain’t No Grave CD in 2010.) In the midst of this sad lament she offers the hope of a redemption day:

There is a train that’s heading straight
To heaven’s gate, to heaven’s gate
And on the way, child and man,
And woman wait, watch and wait
For redemption day
It’s buried in the countryside
It’s exploding in the shells at night
It’s everywhere a baby cries

Of the many areas of social justice capturing Sheryl Crow’s attention, war has been a primary concern. She lent a strong voice to the anti-war movement in the early 2000s as President Bush geared up to invade Iraq after 9/11. Her clearest expression of this sentiment in song was Let’s Get Free. She explained the background of the song: It was inspired by us going to war and all of the incredible misinformation that is out there and the campaign of fear that was run, and it’s about digging within to find the truth. The result is a driving blues number, complete with a Bonnie Raitt-inspired vocal, encouraging the country to find true freedom:

Well, I went searching
For something I could believe
So I turned on the TV
I was fed hypocrisy
Leading me towards a sea of confusion
I heard a voice
Ringing like music in the air
Breaking hearts most everywhere
All the people in despair
Cry out for justice
to be fair to every people
Saying let’s get free, let’s get free
Don’t just believe in what you hear
Don’t just believe in what you see
Let’s get free, let’s get free
You’ve gotta open up your mind
‘Cause truth is what you need

May we all become duet partners with Sheryl Crow in singing out for freedom, for truth, and for peace in our violent world.



  • February 11, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Good coverage on Sheryl Crow, Stan. By the way the Baptist Peacemakers of RI will be having a great local singer, songwriter and guitarist by the name of Joyce Katzberg for its fundraising concert on April 29th at the Community Church of Providence, RI, formerly Central Baptist. Joyce has been active in the peace movement for many years and sings song of peace, freedom and justice. She sang at the memorial service of the late Sue Hastings, who with her husband Ned, started the BPRI. Do you remember Ned and Sue from Peace Camp?

    Comment by Janet Davies

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