Sheryl Crow
December 26, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Farewell: Sheryl Crow pays tribute to Johnny Cash

The first song that popped into my mind when Johnny’s family asked me to sing at his funeral was Bob Dylan’s ”Every Grain of Sand.” Those lyrics just nail the human search for the meaning of mortality — particularly the last line about the master’s plan being perfect. I felt like Johnny lived — and died — by that. He had such great faith, but he also epitomized every man’s struggles throughout life, and he walked through them gracefully. So that song really resonated. Plus, I knew he loved Bob so much.

I actually got to know Johnny through his wife, June, and then he recorded one of my songs, ”Redemption Day.” I got to have several nice conversations with him before he passed away, right around the time of June’s funeral. I sang there, too.

Johnny had a wicked sense of humor; that’s the part of him I related to and loved the most. I think of him as being almost a biblical character in that he succumbed to so many dark experiences in his life and came out asking those questions that we all ask, about who we are on the planet. He was so tempted all the way through his life, but extreme in his faith. And that’s what came out in his music to the very end. (Cash died of diabetes complications in Nashville; June Carter Cash died on May 15 of heart surgery complications in Nashville.)

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