Singer-songwriter Amanda Shires released the song “The Problem” in September as a duet with her husband Jason Isbell, but she had also conceived its frank discussion of abortion as being a conversation among several women. That idea is now a reality with a new version of the song titled “Our Problem” commemorating the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and featuring a diverse, multi-generational cast. Cyndi Lauper, Angie Stone, K.Flay, Lilly Hiatt, Linda Perry, Morgane Stapleton, Nona Hendryx, Peaches, and Valerie June all sing on the track.
Much of the arrangement (featuring Sheryl Crow on bass) remains identical to “The Problem,” but each of the guests gets a turn at singing a couplet and the song plays out more like a supportive discussion among peers. There’s an important lyrical change in the second verse as well, shifting from a man asking a woman about how she wants to proceed to the group of women talking about a partner who wasn’t so supportive.
“Are you feeling well/Are you gonna tell/How long have you known/Did you tell him, does he know/He knew there was something wrong/Just a few weeks along/You told him and he broke it off/and the money won’t cover the cost,” they sing. As they hit the chorus with its message of “I’m on your side,” the entire group comes together in harmony — it feels like a promise of solidarity from friends who understand.
“The subject isn’t talked about enough,” Shires told Rolling Stone in September. “When you’re trying to make a tough decision, you need a lot of support. Wherever you get that support — whether in a relationship or friends — no matter what you believe, you can believe to support somebody through something hard.”
At the close of 2020, Shires also released a reimagined version of the Genesis song “That’s All” to mark the passage of one extremely strange and tragic year.