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All I Wanna Do…Is Listen to Sheryl Crow Talk About Feminism, Aging, and Motherhood

Sheryl Crow calls me from Nashville at 8:30 on a Wednesday morning. By the time we talk, she has already gotten her boys—10 and 13—ready for school, completed drop off, and done a TV interview about her new music. 

“That is the reality of my life,” she says. “I can make a record between school drop off and school pickup.” 

The singer-songwriter has ten studio albums and nine Grammys. She’s very publicly survived cancer and lived out love stories—and their conclusions—under the paparazzi’s relentless focus. She’s sold over 50 million records worldwide with songs that sound like a sun-drenched road trip with your best friend. She’s written a Bond song, performed with the Rolling Stones and Stevie Nicks, and had her songs covered by artists as vast as Johnny Cash to Haim. Her lyrics cut effortlessly, the way an ex can devastate you with a single observation. In August, country star Tim McGraw released “Sheryl Crow,” a ballad that likens life-changing love to the feeling of hearing a Sheryl Crow song.

But in her own mind, she’s “an older person—a single working mom.” Nothing fancy. The 58-year-old is not “an older person” at all, of course, but carving out a place as a woman determined to have a long career in an industry that treats humans like they come with sell-by-dates is a unique path without many role models. Despite all her hits and accolades, Crow has been excluded from the mostly boys’ club of Great Artists. (She has not been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.) And when she hears herself on the radio now, she says, it’s on the classic rock channel.

“By the time you’re 40, you’re not getting played on pop radio anymore because you’re too old,” she says. And that’s okay. “I would be happy for a 13-year-old to enjoy my music, but I’m not writing for 13-year-olds.” 

Crow, whose style has always been a kind of sly, independent swagger, isn’t in the habit of changing herself to please. “I had to decide early on if I was going to alienate myself early on by speaking my truth and not be invited to the party,” she says. It was worth it, of course. But no one likes to miss a party.

But this is a woman who has worked in the entertainment industry for over 30 years. Her first job in the arts was as a public school music teacher in Missouri. She doesn’t give up easily. Crow spent this summer re-reworking her song “Woman in the White House.” Released in 2012, the lyrics, “After 230-something years of waiting / It’s way past overdue” are depressingly just as relevant as they were almost a decade ago. Not deterred, she remade the song for 2020 with a thrumming electric guitar and a driving, decisive beat. 

And she added a new song: a pop-rock, anti-fascist banger called “In The End.” It begins with a classic Sheryl Crow takedown: “His words are a trap while his loyal band of thugs/Cover up all his many transgressions,” she sings, her voice sounding, always, like tires on a classic convertible making skid marks on the Pacific Coast Highway.

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