“This is like the best Wednesday ever,” Sheryl Crow says over the phone on the morning the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced she was one of seven performers getting inducted into the Rock Hall’s Class of 2023 this fall.
The singer-songwriter has been eligible for the Rock Hall for a few years but finds herself joining the club after her first appearance on the ballot – which she says was a genuine surprise. “I had talked myself down: ‘Look, you’re not gonna get in the first year, but it’s really cool you’re nominated.’ So I have to say it’s a bit of a shock.”
Crow got the good news yesterday when she was busy rooting for someone else’s success. “I was at my kid’s baseball game, keeping it real, trying not to scream at the entire ballpark, ‘I’m in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!’ I’m just trying to stay regular mom and not have my head blow up.”
The 2023 induction is particularly meaningful for the rootsy hitmaker given that Willie Nelson – whom she hails as “one of the greatest people to ever walk this planet” — will find himself inducted alongside her come Nov. 3 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
“Even if I hadn’t been inducted this year, I would’ve been there this year for him,” says Crow, who just days ago performed as part of the country trailblazer’s two-night 90th birthday concert celebration. “I tell him all the time and I can’t tell him enough: he’s my favorite person to sing with and he’s also one of my favorite people on the planet. I’m so blessed to know him. He’s uniquely divine as far as I’m concerned. It’s as much of an honor to be there with him as it is to be in it.”
Of the seven new inductees, Crow and Rage Against the Machine are the mostly traditionally ‘rock’ acts in the Class of 2023. The institution has, in recent years, started to expand the sometimes narrow perimeters that define rock music to include artists more commonly associated with genres like pop, hip-hop and country.
“The rock canon can encompass what we call other genres of music — at the end of the day, it’s just music,” she insists, defining rock as “music that sticks its neck out to move and motivate people.” And for her, Nelson – a country music rebel turned elder statesman who only appeared on the ballot for the first time this year after decades of eligibility – exemplifies that.
“He’s a person that, in his unique way, stands up for what he believes in. For me, he sums up rock and roll – he is exactly who he is when he walks on stage,” Crow says. “I think we’ve all cut our teeth on what he’s written, and he’s written some of the most important songs in the American catalog.”
As for her own acclaimed (and commercially successful) catalog, Crow says it doesn’t feel like it’s been 30 years since her debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club, and its smash single “All I Wanna Do” propelled her career into the stratosphere.
“I just wanted to pay my bills. I just wanted to be a working musician that wasn’t waiting tables on the side,” she recalls of the early ‘90s. “I never really thought about how far I was going to take it. It was more, ‘What’s the next thing I’m going to write’ and ‘What’s the next thing I want to say?’ I really have not looked at any of it as goal oriented. I know it sounds weird and a lot of people won’t believe that, but my philosophy has always been to be into the process.”
As for what’s next, Crow says she’s going to have a hell of a time writing a Rock Hall speech that covers the “many people” who have helped her along the way. And that journey is far from done. “I’m still learning. I love the art of producing; I love learning how to play different instruments. It’s still fun and interesting to me and I still feel like my best work is ahead of me.”