Sheryl Crow on her new CD, her famous fiance, and more: The singer-songwriter is giddily in love with Lance Armstrong -- so why is her latest CD, ''Wildflower,'' so downbeat?
Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow

Standing in front of a metal detector in the lobby of Viacom’s gargantuan Times Square headquarters, Sheryl Crow fishes about for metallic items. ”Cell phone…BlackBerry…that’s all!!” she says cheerily to a beefy, bored-looking guard, who waves her forward into the MTV studios.

Only then does Crow glance at her left hand, which has been dominated for a few days now by that fat engagement ring given to her by her famous fiancé, Lance Armstrong. It looks heavy enough to anchor a yacht, but it fails to set off any alarms. Good thing. ”I just had it resized,” the singer cracks, ”and I’m not taking it off without a fight.” ? Crow, 43, is at MTV to tape a pair of songs for ReACT Now: Music & Relief, the televised ”concert” organized to raise funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Like most of the musical participants, she has chosen to perform somber numbers befitting the occasion. Her selections: ”The Water Is Wide,” a traditional ballad recorded by James Taylor, and ”Good Is Good,” the first single from her latest album, Wildflower (in stores Sept. 27).

Surprisingly, almost any song from Crow’s new CD would have been an apt choice. Wildflower finds the singer, who once proclaimed that all she wanted to do was have some fun, in an uncharacteristically introspective frame of mind, delivering heavy fare like ”Letter to God” and posing questions like ”Where Has All the Love Gone” with nary a wink. ”I think as you get older you just become more reflective,” she explains.

Fair enough. But Crow is soaring these days, professionally and personally. Her fiancé is one of the most famous athletes in the world. Her new CD is one of the most anticipated releases of the fall. Fans young and old admire her, as evinced by the well-wishers at the MTV benefit who stop to give her a thumbs-up or gawk at her new rock. And by her own admission, she’s happier than she’s been in years. So what’s behind all of this musical melancholy? To paraphrase one of the singer’s biggest hits: If love and impending marriage make you happy, then why the hell is your new album so sad?

Nibbling on a carrot muffin the restaurant of New York’s Four Seasons Hotel the day before the MTV taping, an animated, smiling Crow brushes off any suggestion that she has traded her membership in the Tuesday Night Music Club for one in the Sunday Night Worrywart Fellowship. In fact, her excitement about her pending nuptials (tentatively set for this spring) is palpable, and she says she is seriously jazzed about becoming a stepmother to Armstrong’s three young kids. ”I love them as much as if they were my own,” she says.

And yet Wildflower‘s more depressing moments — ”Perfect Lie,” for example, deals with the aftermath of a star-crossed romance — speak of trouble in somebody’s paradise. Not Sheryl’s, says Armstrong. ”You have to remember that the album is not necessarily all about [our relationship],” he says. ”Some of it may be, and some may be about people around us. Some may be pure fiction. But just because you hear something in a song about a miserable woman doesn’t mean [Sheryl is] the miserable woman.”

Sheryl Crow
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