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In the Studio: Sheryl Crow Dials Up Old Friends, Protests War on Upcoming Album

January 11, 2008 1:15 PM ET

Sheryl Crow's 1993 debut, Tuesday Night Music Club, was a bittersweet experience. While hits like "All I Wanna Do" pushed the album to seven-times-platinum status, Crow's friendships with the musicians she worked with — known as the Tuesday Night Music Club — fell apart amid allegations that Crow took too much credit. Epitomizing the animosity, TNMC producer Bill Bottrell called Crow "hopeless" and "obnoxious" in a 1996 Rolling Stone cover story.

So it was surprising that in August Crow dialed up Bottrell. "He said, 'I've been waiting years for this call,'" Crow says. "It was a sweet homecoming for the both of us." In a burst of creativity, they recorded twenty-four songs in forty days in the basement studio of Crow's Nashville-area home. The disc's fourteen tracks are among Crow's most personal, a fact she attributes to the adoption of her son, Wyatt, in 2007. "I couldn't write fast enough — having this tiny, innocent spirit made me fearless," she says. "I felt a sense of urgency to write about what's really happening." The album opens with the raw "God Bless This Mess," which addresses 9/11, when "the president spoke words of comfort with tears in his eyes/Then he led us as a nation into a war all based on lies." And a handful of cuts, such as "Diamond Ring" ("Diamond ring," Crow sings, "shouldn't change a thing/Fucks up everything"), seem to allude to her called-off engagement to Lance Armstrong. "All I can say is that I've been ­engaged three times," she says with a laugh. "So I have a thing about diamonds." Crow adds that the sultry R&B groove and lyrics of liberation on "Now That You're Gone" definitely don't address her ex. "That's not about Lance," she says. "I dedicate that one to Karl Rove."

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Song Stories

“Don't Dream It's Over”

Crowded House | 1986

Early in the sessions for Crowded House's debut album, the band and producer Mitchell Froom were still feeling each other out, and at one point Froom substituted session musicians for the band's Paul Hester and Nick Seymour. "At the time it was a quite threatening thing," Neil Finn told Rolling Stone. "The next day we recorded 'Don't Dream It's Over,' and it had a particularly sad groove to it — I think because Paul and Nick had faced their own mortality." As for the song itself, "It was just about on the one hand feeling kind of lost, and on the other hand sort of urging myself on — don't dream it's over," Finn explained.

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