Going Home: Sheryl Crow

Published On November 17, 2014 | November/December 2014

Country superstar and cancer survivor Sheryl Crow returns to her roots with her new release, “Feels Like Home.”

“‘Feels Like Home’ is the most focused album I’ve ever made.”

By Sam Jackson

For Sheryl Crow, 2014 appears to have been a banner year of transformation and adjustment. Her most recent release this last year, “Feels Like Home,” not only accomplished her goal of planting herself firmly in the fertile ground of the Nashville country music scene, but it also did well on the charts, regular and country, getting to No. 7 on the country charts and hitting the top 10 on regular charts. As she was spurred into making the album after a conversation with country superstar Brad Paisley, it’s a continuation of her nine-album streak of top 10 placements, which matches the nine Grammy Awards she’s won throughout her 20-plus-year career.

As she put it on her website, “Feels Like Home” is “the most focused album I’ve ever made.” It’s also more of a return to an old friend for her, as opposed to a fresh start in an unexplored path, as the website’s manifesto continues:

“Country music is rightly suspicious of carpetbaggers who jump on a bandwagon, but in my case, this world in Nashville really does feel like home. I grew up three-and-a-half hours from Nashville, and my parents just moved out of that home that I grew up in recently. So I grew up in a community that was all farmland and churches and school and a town square. So country is where I come from, and that’s the kind of life I wanted to give my kids, and you can find that sort of life here in Nashville. Even though Nashville has so much more to offer, there is still a small town feel that I love.”
When she wasn’t revisiting her roots, she did also nick back into Austin a couple times this year, once in June for the 40th anniversary of the legendary Austin City Limits TV show, where she co-hosted and performed a benefit show with a storied cast of incredible musicians, including Jeff Bridges, Kris Kristofferson, Gary Clark Jr., Bonnie Raitt and T-Bone Burnett. The other, earlier in April, had her rocking the Mack, Jack and McConaughey Gala Night at the ACL Live Moody Theatre.

Of course, this was yet another year that Crow successfully escaped the scourges of cancer. While her struggles with breast cancer (and her victory over it) are pretty well-known, she also received a lesser-known, and equally unfortunate, piece of information in November 2011 that she had a meningioma, a common brain tumor taking up space in the tissues between her skull and brain. This diagnosis puts Crow in a community that sees their numbers swell by six-and-a-half thousand people every year.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, meningiomas occur at an approximate annual rate of 7.8 per 100,000 per year, and they can be easily detected through noninvasive tests such as X-rays, MRIs and other imaging tests. Symptoms of these tumors include seizures, loss of hearing, visual and memory problems, changes in personality and the thought process, headaches, nausea and weakness in the arms and legs.

At first, Crow mistook her own memory troubles as the beginnings of Alzheimer’s. While these kinds of tumors are commonly benign in nature and any malignant ones are extremely rare, it couldn’t have been the best thing for a breast cancer survivor to hear that another piece of that cursed disease had snuck in when she was looking the other way and already trying to recover from breast cancer surgery. Publicly, she blamed the brain tumor on “[spending] hours on old, archaic cell phones” in a talk with Katie Couric.

But in the long run, Crow’s troubles might have taught her the value of backing down from the grindstone. “I’m not nearly so hard on myself anymore,” she said to WebMD a few years back. “I’ve learned to stop putting everybody before myself and to say ‘no’ sometimes, which was a huge lesson for me. I think women get caught up in that, forgetting about their own needs.”

It’s weird what it might sometimes take to make us slow down and pull our heads above the rat race for a minute.

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