Sheryl Crow has just released a new duet with country music icon Johnny Cash — more than 15 years after his death.
Accompanied by a new music video, “Redemption Day” initially appeared on her 1996 album titled Sheryl Crow, and she re-recorded the song as a duet with the late country music legend for her upcoming album, set to be released this summer.
“This song has had a lot of different lives,” says Crow of the track. “It’s led me to some strange and interesting opportunities.”
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According to the 57-year-old singer-songwriter, the catalyst to writing “Redemption Day” was a visit to Bosnia with then-First Lady Hillary Clinton.
“I’d never been anywhere even close to a war-torn area,” Crow explains of the trip, which led her to question the U.S. government’s involvement. “We had all these resources tied up in Bosnia, and I kept thinking about how and why do we choose where to get involved. Is it desire for control, greed for oil — what is it?”
The result was “Redemption Day”, which she played for Cash shortly after writing it. “He asked a lot of questions about different lines and what I meant,” says Crow of the “Walk the Line” singer, who passed away in 2003. “He didn’t want to put his voice to the song without being able to believe it heart and soul.”
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Cash eventually recorded the song, but his version wasn’t released until 2010’s posthumous American VI: Ain’t No Grave album. During her 2014 tour, Crow began performing “Redemption Day” as a duet with Cash’s recording, projecting his image on a screen onstage, which provided the inspiration to record this new version.
Given the current state of America, Crow feels that incorporating Cash’s iconic voice has added meaning. “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.”
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Crow also wrote a touching essay for Medium about Cash and her new recording of the song. You can read it in its entirety right here.