Nekesa Mumby Moody
Although working from home is convenient, sometimes it pays to go to the office.
That is what Sheryl Crow discovered when she jettisoned her Nashville home studio for a Los Angeles one to record her latest album, “100 Miles From Memphis.”
And the LA location led a few famous friends to stop by, including Justin Timberlake.
“I dragged him into the studio and said, ‘I want you to hear something,’ ” Crow recalled. She played him her cover of Terence Trent D’Arby’s “Sign Your Name,” redone with a Memphis sound.
“He looked at me and said, ‘You know, I’m from Memphis … I’ve got the backgrounds on this.’ And he came in and he sang on this,’’ she said. “That sort of thing doesn’t happen when you’re working from home.’’
The album also has other guests, including Keith Richards and Citizen Cope.
But the star of the album is the sound of Memphis, a mix of rock, soul and country that influenced the 48-year-old when she grew up in Kennett, Missouri, which, as the title of her album says, is about 100 miles away.
Your last album, ‘Detours,’ delved into politics and personal hardship. Did you intentionally plan a lighter record with ‘Memphis’?
Your life always influences your art or informs your art, and the last record, I felt a real sense of urgency about that record, about the themes on that record.
I have two kids now, and although I’m deeply invested emotionally in what’s going on politically, what’s going on in this country, what’s going on environmentally, I think my heart was in a place of wanting to just be emotional and be in a place of vulnerability and write songs from a place of desire, and that’s already historically what R ‘n’ B music is about anyway.
You have said that the market wasn’t interested in your last album because of the serious themes. Does that ever frustrate you?
I don’t feel stifled because I’m going to make the kind of record that I want to make just because it is an extension of who I am.
It would be difficult to put parameters on that. … I still believe in that record. I believe in the “Detours’’ record and I believe it will have longevity … it will definitely be a snapshot of the time we were living in.
But I would have made that record no matter what. And this record is necessary because of where I am now.
You recently adopted a second child. How has life changed?
Having one is like having one, having two is like having 20. But like I said, it’s double the love. It just gets bigger and bigger. My son is really loving having a little brother.
He feels like he came into our lives for him, which is the way I want him to feel. It’s only changing insofar as when you’re on tour; obviously, it’s about creating a home on a tour bus.
Wyatt is very adapted to that, and Levi is just a baby. He doesn’t know anything different.
What is your outlook now as far as what you want to do musically and personally?
The breast cancer experience for me was a reminder that we can’t really control anything. … For me it was a great reminder first of who I am.
It dictated that I make big assessments about my life and what I wanted my life to look like from that point on, and it gave an opportunity for me to reflect on how I had gotten to the place where I was.
I look at my life and I can only say that making plans for me is not realistic. It’s all about being inspired and being authentic.
Does part of that life include romance?
I will tell you that I guard my private life ferociously. The last experience that I had [with Lance Armstrong] was so public, and it was not an experience that I want to go through again.
I don’t show up to places with my relationships because I don’t want to invite that in again.
I’m sure your friend Jennifer Aniston has given you advice on that as well.
We don’t talk about the celebrity aspect of it. … For me, I don’t feel like that’s the biggest part of who I am. I feel like it’s the smallest part of who I am, and when I’m in those instances where there are cameras around, I’m reminded, “Oh yeah, I’m a public person,’’ but I live my life normally.
We live in Nashville now. There’s no paparazzi and that part of my life doesn’t exist down there, so we live a very basic, normal life, and I can have relationships that are completely out of the public eye.