Sheryl Crow found inspiration for her new album from artificial intelligence, though she said the technology left her “terrified.”
At her induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame earlier this month, Crow said she hadn’t intended to do another album, planning instead to just release songs.
But then “when the whole AI thing started coming out, particularly with the Beatles thing, and also having witnessed how AI is being used in my art form, I wrote a song about it.”
She continued, “I was terrified, and where do I go when I’m terrified? I go to my studio,” adding, “And I found myself writing just one thing after another, and lo and behold I had 10 songs.”
WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)?
Crow’s comment on the Beatles likely refers to the release of their final song, “Now and Then,” which features performances by the deceased members of the band, John Lennon and George Harrison.
Paul McCartney had previously caused a stir when he said they were able to pull Lennon’s vocals and piano performance with AI, causing fans to think Lennon’s vocals had been faked, which he later clarified was not the case.
Crow’s song about AI is titled “Evolution,” and serves as the title track to her new album.
“The song is called ‘Evolution’ and it really does stand for the whole thing because there are lots of things on the record that are very timely, but also I’m at that point where I look back more than I look forward,” the 61-year-old said.
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“I have to remind myself, there’s a lot more years in front of me and a lot more creativity to be had. You get to a certain point when you start looking back, and it changes your perspective, especially when you’re raising people, and so, ‘Evolution’ is very apropos for what’s on the record.”
Crow spoke about the integration of AI into music during her Nov. 2 appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
WATCH: SHERYL CROW EXPLAINS HOW AI ‘TERRIFIED’ HER INTO MAKING A NEW ALBUM
“I did a session the other day and this young songwriter had this incredible song, but she needed a guy to sing on it so that she could pitch it to male singers in Nashville,” the “All I Wanna Do” singer recalled. “Paid $5, put in John Mayer’s name and she played it for me. There’s no way you could tell the difference and it just blew my mind. And it didn’t just sound like him, I mean, like his inflections.”
“For me, art is like soul, it’s attached to the soul,” she said. “So when you get into something that’s so much more advanced than our brains are at this point, it takes the soul out of it, you know, and it’s scary.”
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Crow celebrated her induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with other legendary musicians, including Willie Nelson, Missy Elliot, George Michael, Rage Against the Machine and The Spinners. DJ Kool Herc and Link Wray were inducted for musical influence, and Chaka Khan, Al Kooper and Bernie Taupin were inducted for musical excellence. Don Cornelius received the Ahmet Ertegun Award.
Onstage, Crow was joined by Olivia Rodrigo, and they performed her hit 1996 song “If It Makes You Happy.”
The honor had the mom of two adopted sons, Wyatt and Levi, feeling reflective about her 37 years in the industry.
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“I started out with the big hair with Michael Jackson. Before that, I was a schoolteacher.… I’m a big believer in manifesting. I do believe we manifest the events in our lives by virtue of how much energy we put and how much attention we put on something,” Crow told reporters at the ceremony.
“And for me, all of my energy went into… expressing my experiences through music and through words. And, lo and behold, I got back what I put out.… I’ve been really blessed.”