So What If We’re Controlling All The Oil? Prince, Sheryl Crow & The Debate Over Deep-Sea Oil Drilling

Sheryl Crow.

In New Zealand right now there is a huge amount of talk about the rights and wrongs of deep-sea oil-drilling, so I thought it only appropriate to find a way to link this topic to a couple of songs.

Like a lot of debates, I’ve been frustrated at peoples’ desire to make this an “us and them” argument as opposed to admitting that many Kiwis may be torn on the subject. Surely most people would love New Zealand to be rich and yet would hate to have our environment ruined by a catastrophic oil spill or leak.

Petulant Energy Minister (officially known merely as “Energy Minister”) Simon Bridges is just one person who has seemingly failed to grasp that concerns about Anadarko are legitimate. More than that, even if you are in favour of the deep-sea oil exploration and drilling in New Zealand, you should appreciate that the very presence of protesters benefits us all. If there weren’t protesters or people asking difficult questions you can be guaranteed that we wouldn’t have the strict safety regulations that we are being assured we have.

But back to the music. In the early 90s Prince released the Diamonds And Pearls double album, an LP dominated by the title track and the #1 hit Cream. But there was also the dark horse top 40 hit Money Don’t Matter 2nite which featured the lyric, “So what if we’re controlling all the oil, is it worth a child dying for.” The song is compelling acoustic soul and is all the better for being melodic and without bombast and has always been one of my favourite Prince songs.

The second song is by an artist who once duetted with Prince (on his 1999 song Baby Knows) and who is for me one of the most underrated singer-songwriters of the past 20 years. Yes, Sheryl Crow is famous and yes indeed she has had great commercial success. But there is a distance between her accessible radio hits and her quite beautiful and confronting album tracks and she remains for me one of the sharpest social and political commentators in music.

Here is her clearly Bush-era Gasoline from her 2008 album Detours, my top-ranked of all her LPs:

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