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Album: Sheryl CrowReleased: 1996
Sheryl Crow wrote this song and recorded it on her 1996 self-titled sophomore album. It was covered by Johnny Cash on his posthumous American VI: Ain't No Grave album and she told Reuters that when recording the song, the Man In Black frequently called her on the phone to gain insights into the lyrics. "If he was going to sing a song, it was going to be a part of his molecular makeup," she said. "He was going to deliver it as if he wrote it. The questions that he asked and his concern for whether I would like what he was doing, it was just really humbling."
Sheryl Crow's original was a politicized song about national redemption. Cash's cover transformed it into a tune about personal redemption.
The song was one of the last things Johnny Cash recorded before passing away. "Having Johnny Cash record one of my songs was my biggest accomplishment as a songwriter," Crow told Southern Living magazine. "Talk about bringing weight to a song. He owned it. Afterward, he called me and asked if I liked his version and quizzed me about why I wrote 'Redemption Day.' But we never got to sing it together. He died three months later."
Sheryl Crow wrote the song after visiting Bosnia with Hillary Clinton in 1995. "I really experienced something I'd never seen before, which was what it looks like to be in a war-torn area and meet people who had suffered through that," the singer explained to Rolling Stone Country. "Part of [Clinton's] goal was to speak to the women and children in those villages. The moment we went into Bosnia, the whole genocide was happening in Rwanda and we sat back and watched it, yet Bosnia seemed to be kind of a stronghold in Europe and we needed the military presence there. I came home really struck by the question of why we invest in some countries, and other countries we don't."