The Sheryl Crow You Didn’t Know About

NASHVILLE — Sheryl Crow will not read this story.

She confirmed this with a funky grin, but it wasn’t a surprise (or a bluff). Crow’s career began in the 1990s, when success was tied to juggernauts like major labels and radio, and the most direct line to fans was through MTV and the often sexist press. Although she did hundreds of interviews and was the subject of many other covers, she stopped watching most of them around 1996, when she released her second album.

She gave in to temptation once, on a plane. A Rolling Stone magazine was on the seat next to her, and she discovered an “ugly” article about herself. “It killed me,” she said, her voice rising an octave. “I felt myself sinking. And after that, I was like, you know what, nothing beats this. I already made the disc. And I am who I am.

And so Crow, who has spent three decades courageously telling his story, never knew for sure how it was told. This will change on May 6, when “Sheryl”, a documentary directed by Amy Scott, is coming to Showtime. It’s the latest in a wave of musical films – some made by the artists themselves; others by more objective outsiders — who serve as correctives, exposing the chauvinism and other challenges that plagued musicians at a time when women couldn’t speak openly about harassment and mental health. Crow had no creative control over the project, despite her manager being one of her producers, and she seized the opportunity to forcefully answer long-discussed questions about fatherhood and ambition, and to explain how hard she’s had to struggle in a music industry where she doesn’t fit in a neat box.

On a gloomy April afternoon, the singer-songwriter welcomed another caller into the recording studio she built atop a stable here, with a palette ranging from tan to brown and vintage signs advertising essence and perfume hanging over wood and leather. She was dressed in a blue plaid button-up shirt and medium wash jeans, shaking one of her Timberland-clad feet while perched in front of a recent addition to the studio’s living room: a weathered Crow magazine rack rescued from ‘a childhood haunt in Kennett, Mo., and filled with old Rolling Stone and Creem numbers. Warm and frank, she immediately opened up her world to us, joking about her recent real estate sale (with her “scary dolls”) and using Siri to FaceTime her eldest son, who had come home from school sick.

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