sheryl crow on the dawn of darkness and the blood upon our hands

FOR ALMOST FIVE YEARS I toiled at a restau­rant doing every­thing or an­other while working on an as-yet-uncompleted book. We had piped in music via one of those satel­lite feeds: se­lect a genre and hear the same damn songs over and over at a volume that was hear­able but which rarely al­lowed for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the artist let alone the lyrics.

One such selection—played to the point that I was able to rec­og­nize it any­where in the song’s playing—sounded like a par­tic­u­larly nox­ious chil­dren’s song. It was enough to drive a sane man to drink and make a sober man crazy!

On one of the rare nights where I closed the restau­rant, we turned the music up and I ac­tu­ally heard the recording for the first time—and all the way through.

And, lo and be­hold, I fell in love with the damn thing!

 

Caricature of Sheryl Crow by Ken Howard with not a hint of darkness.

While looking for a suit­ably dra­matic photo for this page’s header image, I came across more than a few im­ages of the singer playing up her rather at­trac­tive phys­ical at­trib­utes. And then I found this de­lightful car­i­ca­ture that spoofs those very at­trib­utes but, by adding a crow to Crow’s shoul­ders, makes me think of Huginn and Muninn, Odin’s raven mes­sen­gers. The for­mer’s name is from Old Norse for “thought” while the latter is from “memory” or “mind.”

Out of our heads

Best was when I dis­cov­ered the ab­solutely groovy video that ac­com­pa­nied the record’s re­lease. Seeing this video on YouTube for the first time brought a HUGE smile to my face: the Spirit of the Six­ties lives right on right here! 2

So now the hearing of the song made the work a little more bear­able. I had to ask sev­eral people be­fore someone iden­ti­fied the artist as Sh­eryl Crow and the songs as Out Of Our Heads. Here are the oh-so-Sixties lyrics:

If you feel you want to fight me,
there’s a chain around your mind.
Some­thing holding you tightly,
what is real is so hard to find.

Losing ba­bies to geno­cide—
where’s the meaning in that plight?

Can’t you see that we’ve re­ally bought into
every word they pro­claimed and every lie?

If we could only get out of our heads,
out of our heads and into our hearts.
If we could only get out of our heads,
out of our heads and into our hearts.

Some­one’s feeding on your anger;
some­one’s been whis­pering in your ear.
You’ve seen his face be­fore,
you’ve been played be­fore,
these aren’t the words you need to hear.

Through the dawn of dark­ness blindly,
you have blood upon your hands.
All the world will treat you kindly,
but only the heart can un­der­stand.

If we could only get out of our heads,
out of our heads and into our hearts.
Chil­dren of Abraham lay down your fears,
swallow your tears and look to your heart.

If we could only get out of our heads,
out of our heads and into our hearts.
Chil­dren of Abraham lay down your fears,
swallow your tears and look to your heart.

Every man is his own prophet,
every prophet’s just a man.
I say all the women stand up,
say ‘Yes’ to them­selves,
teach your chil­dren the best you can.

Let every man bow to the best in him­self,
we’re not killing any more.
We’re the wisest ones, every­body listen,
’cause you can’t fight this feeling any more.

If we could only get out of our heads,
out of our heads and into our hearts.
Chil­dren of Abraham lay down your fears,
swallow your tears and look to your heart.

If we could only get out of our heads,
out of our heads and into our hearts.
Chil­dren of Abraham lay down your fears,
swallow your tears and look to your heart.

But back to Out Of Our Heads: the arrange­ment’s gentle Ja­maican rhythm is more ska-like than reggae and would not have been out of place on AM radio in the mid-’60s. I don’t know why, but when­ever I hear this I close my eyes and imagine Smokey Robinson and his won­drous Mir­a­cles singing this song.


Sh­eryl Crow - Out Of Our Heads

Look to your heart for darkness

So now Out Of Our Heads is one of my fa­vorite records of the past few decades and I was mo­ti­vated to ac­tu­ally buy the CD that fea­tured the track. So it goes that DETOURS was my in­tro­duc­tion to Ms. Crowe and I now count my­self a fan.

DETOURS was Crow’s sixth album (2008) but not one of her most com­mer­cially suc­cessful: it was her first not to go gold in the US. It was nom­i­nated for a 2009 Grammy Award in the cat­e­gory for Best Pop Vocal Album but lost out to ROCKFERRY by someone or some­thing called Duffy. 3

Yeah yeah yeah, I am of the gen­er­a­tion that wanted to own, to posses, the music that we loved. A simple down­load of some bits onto my com­puter would not suf­fice.


Photo of Sheryl Crow at the Montreux Jazz Festival 2008 surrounded by darkness.

FEATURED IMAGE: Sh­eryl Crow at the Mon­treux Jazz  Fes­tival on May 7, 2008. She’s pointing to the left cen­ter­field bleachers, telling the au­di­ence that’s where she’s gonna put the next one. Fi­nally, this brief ar­ticle was orig­i­nally pub­lished as “the spirit of the six­ties lives right on right here” on Neal Umphred Dot Com on Au­gust 17, 2013.

Sh­eryl Crow’s ‘Out Of Our Heads’ would not have been out of place on Top 40 radio in the ’60s. Click To Tweet

FOOTNOTES:

1   I was tempted to title this “Can’t You See That We’ve Re­ally Bought Into Every Word They Pro­claimed And Every Lie?” but it’s just too long.

2   By the bye, the Spirit of the Six­ties had nothing to do with sex and drugs and rock & roll.

3   I should be above broad­casting my ig­no­rance of con­tem­po­rary pop music via sar­casm but it’s my blog and it feels good …

 

Sh­eryl Crow - Out Of Our Heads - live - July 5, 2008

While the album ver­sion of Out Of Our Heads was con­ceived and recorded in late 2007, by July 2008 Crow and her flock had re­arranged the song, and that new vi­sion can be heard on this live per­for­mance, also pre­served (if only tem­porarily) by the magic of the In­ternet!




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