Sheryl Crow presents a disturbing commentary on the state of humankind in her new video for “Redemption Day.” The first release off her upcoming album for Nashville’s Valory Music Co., the stark piano ballad is a duet with Johnny Cash, who recorded his version of the song (Crow’s original appeared on her self-titled 1996 album) shortly before his death in 2003.
While the song is striking for its arrangement and the haunting verses delivered by Crow and Cash, it’s the jarring music video directed by Shaun Silva that leaves a mark. “Redemption Day” intersperses archival clips of the country icon and new footage of Crow playing piano in a field with newsreel imagery of both manmade and natural tragedies. Bombs are dropped, mass graves are filled, the Space Shuttle Challenger explodes. Wildfires rage, glaciers collapse, bees die off. All of it is witnessed through the eyes of a child.
Crow screened the video, which calls to mind Cash’s similarly unsettling “Hurt,” to press earlier this week during an event at the Cash Cabin, the Hendersonville, Tennessee, retreat-studio where Cash first recorded his take on “Redemption Day.”
“I went in to make this record, sitting at the piano, and Johnny was all over it,” Crow said of her inspiration to recast “Redemption Day” as a duet with the Man in Black. Once she received the blessing of the Cash estate, particularly that of Johnny and June Carter’s son John Carter Cash, she moved forward with her plan. “I feel like the song has found its moment,” she said.
Although the music video includes fleeting clips of Presidents Trump and Obama, it doesn’t take a decidedly partisan stance. Still, it’s not hard to see which way Crow leans — her Twitter account frequently blasts the current president and she recently tweeted at the First Lady, petitioning her to ask Trump to stop bullying and inciting violence.
“I feel like Johnny Cash would have an opinion on what’s happening today,” Crow said at the Cash Cabin. “He was very outspoken. He was a great American in my estimation. He stood for the rights of Native Americans and he stood out against the Vietnam War and the Iraq War. … He was who he was and he was going to say his piece and stand up for what he believed.”
Crow will release her new album — which she claims will be her last full-length project — later this summer. Along with Cash, it features cameos by Keith Richards, Don Henley and Joe Walsh.