MILAN, Italy -- Bob Dylan made the offer. Sheryl Crow gladly accepted it.
And, from that moment on, Crow's latest collection of music would take on a new title and
an altered vision, one that finds the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter exploring
herself and her sound perhaps further than ever before.
Crow's third record, The Globe Sessions [Tuesday (Sept. 29)] -- an album that offers a more
introspective and analytical Crow -- was all but completed and slated for release, under
the title Riverwide, when the phone rang, she said.
"It was Bob Dylan's manager," the pop singer/songwriter said recently at a press
conference here. "He called and said, 'Bob has this song. He thinks it might do for you.' "
The song, "Mississippi," was an outtake from the folk-rock icon's latest and highly
acclaimed album, Time Out of Mind. According to Crow, Dylan loved the song but
he wasn't satisfied with his recording of it, so he offered the tune to her.
"When I heard it, I loved it. I thought it might sound like something on [the '60s Dylan
albums] [The] Freewheelin' [Bob Dylan] or Highway 61 Revisited. Very
classic Bob Dylan. I felt flattered that he himself had a song that he loved and didn't put
on his album and thought I might record it," said Crow, 36. "He was a great influence on
me. Although I loved playing with the Rolling Stones, with Eric Clapton or Stevie Nicks,
he was really a heavy influence and a great master to study onstage."
Crow explained that, after hearing Dylan's song, she went back into the studio and
recorded the tune, along with two more tracks later included on the album, "Anything But
HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Crow,_Sheryl/Crash_And_Burn.ram">"Crash and Burn"
It was at that point she decided to change the title of the 11-track album: "Then I felt I
didn't want to give it any imagery. I felt it better to tag it by a time and place as opposed to
a beautiful word or some image," Crow said.
So it became The Globe Sessions, after the studio where the album was recorded
in New York City, Crow said.
Those sessions, and all that had preceded them, opened Crow up to a new world of
songwriting and recording, she added. For instance, while she was working on The
Globe Sessions, she discovered the melodic potential of writing music on a bass.
"I grew up playing piano and got a degree in classical piano. Now my instrument of
choice is bass, because I want to write songs thinking more about melody," she said.
"When a person writes on guitar or on piano, I think his instinct is always to put beautiful
chords together and then write the melody around that," Crow added. "But when you're
writing on bass, you're really forced to construct a string melody that provides the root
that can be filled up later."
The new album offers a more intimate and introspective view of Crow's world than
did her previous efforts, she added.
In 1993, Crow's multi-platinum debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club,
presented a wry set of songs, such as the easy-going, 1994 Grammy-winning
Record of the Year, "All I Wanna Do." Her eponymous 1996 follow-up delivered a raucous, bluesy sound and scored big with such hits as "If It It Makes You Happy."
On The Globe Sessions, however, she has taken a different approach, one that
finds the singer increasingly reflecting on her ideas and opinions. It's a sign, she said, of
a songwriter who is maturing and coming to terms with her life.
"If you look at each [of my] albums and you were trying to conclude who the personality
on that album was, on this album you'd get a clear picture of somebody who's more
quiet, in an introspective place," Crow said. "In my last album, you'd find someone who's
frustrated, a little wild and unpredictable."
But she pointed out that the intimate lyrics of The Globe Sessions should not be
taken literally. In some cases, she said, she chooses an alter ego to get across her
perception and viewpoints.
"These days you can become bigger than your material, so that people think that all your
songs are autobiographical," she said. "I'm a songwriter and storyteller. I like to create a
character that can be an alter ego for the things I've lived and my perceptions.
Sometimes I like to write in the first person and sometimes I like to write something more
universal than personal experiences. I think none of what you write should be taken
literally. The listener should be able to find his own meaning in it without being told what
the song literally means."