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Wal-Mart Eating Crow

Verdict against discount giant vindicates singer

August 12, 1998 12:00 AM ET

A recent Florida Supreme Court ruling that upheld a $2.16 million verdictagainst Wal-Mart for illegally selling ammunition to minors who used thebullets to kill a Pensacola man, seemed to support Grammy Award-winning singerSheryl Crow in her on-going battle with the discount giant over guns andchildren.

It was back in 1996 when Wal-Mart shocked the music industry by refusing tostock Crow's self-titled release because of offending lyrics from "Love Is aGood Thing": "Watch out sister, Watch out brother/Watch our children as theykill each other/With a gun they bought at the Wal-Mart discount stores."

Wal-Mart and other family value discounters such as K-Mart and Caldor routinely refuse to sell records laced with profanity or objectionable art. But Wal-Mart was the first chain to boycott an album because company officials were offended by lyrics about their own stores. At the time, a Wal-Mart spokesman pointed out the chain had a strict policy against selling guns to minors. The ban removed Sheryl Crow from every store in the Wal-Mart chain, which accounts for nearly one out of every ten records sold in America.(Crow's debut, Tuesday Night Music Club, has remained in Wal-Mart's storesthroughout the controversy.)

But the Florida court decision, which came in late July, seemed to back upCrow's claim in "Love Is a Good Thing" that Wal-Mart has been culpable formurders committed by minors. The case stemmed from a 1991 murder-for-hire casein which an employee at an auto parts store hired three teens to kill theemployee's manager. The teens bought their .32 caliber bullets at Wal-Mart,despite an existing federal law that, according to the Associated Press, "bansthe sale of handgun bullets to anyone under 21."

According to a spokesman at A&M Records, Crow has no comment on the ruling.Her new album, The Globe Sessions, will be in stores in Sept. 29. Wal-Mart isexpected to stock it.

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