Sheryl Crow has released “Redemption Day,” the lead single from her forthcoming final album due out late this summer. The poignant tune is a duet with Johnny Cash, who previously recorded the tune.
Penned by Crow in 1996 after a trip to Bosnia with Hillary Clinton, “Redemption Day” was featured on the singer’s 1996 self-titled album. After Cash heard the tune in 2003, he approached Crow about the song’s lyrics and later recorded it himself. His version was released on the posthumous American VI: Ain’t No Grave in 2010.
During an event at the Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, Tenn., earlier this week, Crow debuted the video and discussed its bigger message with Billboard and other media. The nearly five-minute clip showcases Crow on piano singing the song in a field while images of the Holocaust, war, genocide and racial tensions appear from news coverage. Archival video footage of Cash himself is also included. Crow explained that she sent the song to director Shaun Silva, who came up with the video’s treatment.
“As an artist, I can't be the mom of two kids and not address the elephant in the room,” Crow explained. “The idea behind the video is that every decision that we make as a people or as a person, our children are right behind us…You model for them what it is that is right. You model for them what we should all stand for. You model compassion, empathy, acceptance, the ability to listen and not be ugly.”
She added, “I'm somebody’s kid. I witnessed the Vietnam War. I witnessed nightly news and Walter Cronkite, people coming home in body bags with the flag draped over him. I wore the POW bracelet, I was seven. I didn't know what that meant. Our kids witness history, they witness all of that. The biggest informant of our kids and the way they see the world is us, and that's the whole idea behind the video.”
A young boy in the video clip serves as the portrayal of all children. As he’s watching the harrowing news on the television screen, he’s trying to understand what’s happening himself.
“He's watching everything and he's trying to understand it and we can't even explain it. We can't even explain how the Holocaust can work,” Crow said. “We are responsible for the message that our children receive. The bottom line is we're at a moment where we have to stand up and say the truth matters or doesn't matter. And that's on us. We're the informed adults in the room.”
Cash is one of several duet partners featured on Crow’s forthcoming release on Big Machine imprint the Valory Music Co. Additional collaborations include Keith Richards, Stevie Nicks and St. Vincent.