Sheryl Crow Has Thoughts About The State Of The Nation : All Songs Considered Sheryl Crow had a lot to say in this Tiny Desk Fest interview with NPR pop critic Ann Powers.

Every day, Sheryl Crow said at NPR's Tiny Desk Fest, she thinks about compassion. "In 2005, I got to hear the Dalai Lama speak — I was his opening act — and it was cool. It was the year he was talking about compassion, and he said if every person in every business in every walk of life made every decision based on compassion, the world would look like a completely different place." Crow and her band then led a rousing singalong of her 2008 song "Out of Our Heads," whose chorus sends an urgent plea to the online news junkies and social media warriors of today: "If we could only get out of our heads, out of our heads, and into our hearts...."
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Sheryl Crow At Tiny Desk Fest: 'The Truth Is The Truth'

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Sheryl Crow At Tiny Desk Fest: 'The Truth Is The Truth'

Sheryl Crow At Tiny Desk Fest: 'The Truth Is The Truth'

Sheryl Crow At Tiny Desk Fest: 'The Truth Is The Truth'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/784144404/784145349" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Sheryl Crow didn't hold back in her interview with NPR pop critic Ann Powers. Mhari Shaw/NPR hide caption

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Mhari Shaw/NPR

Sheryl Crow didn't hold back in her interview with NPR pop critic Ann Powers.

Mhari Shaw/NPR

Every day, Sheryl Crow said at NPR's Tiny Desk Fest, she thinks about compassion. "In 2005, I got to hear the Dalai Lama speak — I was his opening act — and it was cool. It was the year he was talking about compassion, and he said if every person in every business in every walk of life made every decision based on compassion, the world would look like a completely different place." Crow and her band then led a rousing singalong of her 2008 song "Out of Our Heads," whose chorus sends an urgent plea to the online news junkies and social media warriors of today: "If we could only get out of our heads, out of our heads, and into our hearts...."

Crow's holistic vision extends beyond her spiritually-driven outlook on life, shaping her 30-year career as one of this era's most appealing rock stars. Over 11 studio albums, she has blessed the radio with rich stories of human striving and resilience built from indelibly catchy hooks and impeccable guitar riffs. Her 35-minute Tiny Desk set juxtaposed several of those beloved hits — the crowning moment was a wrenchingly vulnerable version of her 1996 heartbreaker "If It Makes You Happy" — with songs that shine her empathetic light on the present day. The new material comes from Threads, an album that surveys her career through 17 collaborations, with friends ranging from Eric Clapton to Brandi Carlile to Chuck D, and shows that in her casually brilliant, Everywoman way, Crow has always been a kind of protest singer.

Crow sat for a brief conversation after the show and elaborated on the sense of truth and justice she hopes her music conveys. "Whatever trip you go on to justify what you're defending as being truth, it will be reckoned," Crow said. "I think there is a karmic truth that goes along with what we do. And there is manifesting goodness and there is manifesting darkness." She mentioned her beliefs in the validity of reparations for African Americans and shared her attempts to pry her two sons away from the screens she fears will affect their perspective. Mentioning a report she'd heard on NPR about how social media has reduced the average attention span, she said "while the kids are all writing fast food — which is super cool 'cause it tastes great, super filling — we're sort of still writing salmon. We're the songwriters that are here to tax your attention span."

She also touched on lighter subjects, remembering how as a teen she pored over her copy of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours and spun around in front of her bedroom mirror in an attempt to emulate the cool of her idol (and, on Threads, collaborator) Stevie Nicks, and comparing her Tiny Desk experience to the 1990s custom of staging impromptu performances in the offices of radio programmers — although she noted that in those cases, there was no audience and the band was expected to bring donuts.

It's been a winding road for Crow since she first convened a Tuesday Night Music Club, and, as she reiterated in her interview, she intends for Threads to be her final album. But that doesn't mean she's anywhere near done with making music. She just wants to be able to release it more quickly, to be responsive to whatever today's unpredictable realities present. After all, that's how both compassion and protest work: Their practitioners fully engage with what life holds out to them. After a lifetime of making music that helps people better understand themselves, Sheryl Crow is still on board to do that.