Rock And Rules: Sheryl Crow

Rock And Rules: Sheryl Crow

Musical life lessons from a true great...

The guide to surviving a life in music, by those who know best...

Sun-soaked songwriter and winding road navigator, Sheryl Crow...

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LEARN FROM THE GREATS

Get in cover bands when you’re young and I think by osmosis you wind up absorbing what was great about these songs that were played all over the radio and you get your chops together.

It’s a great learning experience: being in cover bands helped me develop my voice and helped me learn how to manipulate my voice and how to strengthen my voice and also just how to be out front.

TUNE INTO THE ROAD

To survive touring, you just have to dive into it and be into playing music. These days you can’t always be into ‘What am I getting out of this?’ or ‘What's gonna be the outcome?’ It’s much more about being into the process and loving playing and staying positive about it.

It’s so much easier to build a name and a following today through technology, and starting out only playing for only a few people can be very humbling.

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FIND YOUR FOOTING

As a young artist, I don’t think sometimes you know exactly who you are until you go in and you make the mistakes that are required to figure that out, and I’m a person that has to do that before I can really get a good assessment of what it is I don’t want to be doing. So that is a hard battle.

I don’t know that it’s a great way to start, where you immediately start on the wrong side of the business model, but thankfully, my record label was understanding.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD

In the past few years I’ve felt like there's been hardly any presence - at least at commercial radio - of songs that are written about what’s happening on the streets or in the neighbourhood or in the world, and I always feel like there’s room for that. There’s an audience of people who have those subjects on their mind and they can enjoy listening to it and not feel like this is a rehash of everything they’re living everyday.

I think there’s room for everything. It’s difficult for me not to write about what we’re experiencing as a family and what we’re experiencing as Americans. It’s a little bit like avoiding the elephant in the room.

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MANAGE YOUR WORK/LIFE BALANCE

I had great advice from Chrissie Hynde, who said while I was making my fourth album - I was killing myself trying to get my record completed - and she’s like: ‘This is not your life. Your life is your life, and music is something that you do.’

It kinda gave me permission to step away and just take some time off and do some living before I came back to finishing that record.

LOVE WHAT YOU DO

These days, if you’re in it to become famous, you are gonna be left holding the baton. You can’t maintain being popular after people get used to you. You’re yesterday’s news.

The advice I give to young artists is to be really into your craft, and find the desire to do something that’s meaningful and not just based on what’s current and popular.

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‘Threads’, the final album from Sheryl Crow, is released August 30th.

Words: Simon Harper

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