Sheryl Crow is going country, or at least she's moving to the country. Crow, 41, who has homes in Los Angeles and New York, is moving to Nashville, where she says she'll live on a farm full time. She recently purchased a Nashville studio called Creative Arts, where she'll install her vintage recording gear that she used in the making of previous records. "I had the Globe Studios in New York and I'm moving that to Nashville," she says.
"I completely relate to Nashville because I have a lot of friends there who are also in the music business," she says. "But not only that, I just relate to the people. I relate to the friendliness and down-homeness. I feel a relaxation that comes over my body that I usually don't feel when I'm in New York or L.A."
While Crow will first and foremost remain a rock star, expect her music to take on a more country feel as time goes by. "I always considered myself to be steeped in country because most of the songs are narratives," she says. "I am easing into maybe a more serious, more stripped-down kind of music. I don't know exactly what kind of record I'm going to make, but I gravitate much more to rootsy, twangy, old-style country."
The country influence is certainly nothing new in Crow's music. Indeed, she finished her last three CDs in Music City. For instance, she co-wrote "It's So Easy," from her most recent album, C'mon, C'mon, in Nashville with her sister Kathy, a country songwriter. A few days after September 11th, she recorded "The Weather Channel" in Nashville with Emmylou Harris.
Crow says she's returning to fewer high-tech sounds in the studio and finds looping less interesting now. "What's more interesting is having a great song to sing that has some emotion and has a great melody, like 'He Stopped Loving Her Today.' So I don't know what that's going to mean in the way my records are produced."
But the Nashville relocation doesn't mean a revolutionary change in her artistry. The country influences will ebb and flow in her music, as they've done for nearly a decade. "I don't think for me that it's ever going to be a distinct, 'OK, now I'm going to put a pedal steel on everything,'" she says. "Songs like 'Strong Enough,' "Different Kind', or even 'If It Makes You Happy' are already structured like country songs anyway."
Crow releases her greatest hits CD on November 4th, and Mercury Nashville Records has begun working her cover of the Rod Stewart hit "The First Cut Is the Deepest" at country radio stations. She's had conversations with Mercury Nashville chairman Luke Lewis about releasing a country CD.
"Luke knows how I feel," she says. "I've never tried to cross over because I feel like it's a sacred thing. Country music deserves people who are totally committed to that genre. I wouldn't want to come in and try to capitalize on what country is based on -- and that's what's honest and earnest. It's God-fearing, land-loving people who struggle in their everyday lives."
Crow says she worries about whether the country music industry and fans will accept her participation. "I definitely have my concerns because I treat music honorable and I really take it seriously," she says. "I understand the country audience's dedication to country music, and just the fact that I'm embraced at all by the country world is a real honor because country music is definitely one of the true American art forms."
The country music industry has returned Crow's affections. She performed at the most recent Country Music Association Awards and CMT's Flameworthy Awards. She also performed at the funerals earlier this year of June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash.
Crow's dedication has been recognized this year with a CMA nomination for Vocal Event of the Year for her duet of "Picture" with Kid Rock. "I'm completely taken aback that we're nominated," she says. "It's a throwback to the George [Jones] and Tammy [Wynette] crooning duet."
Crow had already been spending a large amount of her time in Nashville, and that should increase as she settles onto her new farm. "It just feels like home to me. Just the terrain itself is inspiring. I'm not married and I don't have kids -- that's a part of my life that I hope will come together."
And Crow says she'll be open to dating Southern men. "That's one of the reasons I'm moving," she says half-jokingly, "to marry a nice Southern boy."