'I'm on your side': Amanda Shires enlists Cyndi Lauper, Sheryl Crow and others on abortion song 'Our Problem'

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Jennifer McClellan, USA TODAY
·2 min read
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On “Our Problem,” singer Amanda Shires captures the difficult conversation women share as one of them grapples with ending a pregnancy.
On “Our Problem,” singer Amanda Shires captures the difficult conversation women share as one of them grapples with ending a pregnancy.

“I’m on your side” isn’t the same as “I agree with you,” but it means so much more.

On “Our Problem,” singer Amanda Shires captures the difficult conversation women share as one of them grapples with ending a pregnancy.

A friend runs away crying. Others ask, “Are you feeling well? Are you gonna tell?” Then they find compassion in the chorus: “Everything's gonna be OK / It's gonna be alright / I'm on your side.”

Cyndi Lauper, Angie Stone, Morgane Stapleton, Linda Perry, K.Flay, Nona Hendryx, Lilly Hiatt, Peaches and Valerie June lend their voices to the track. Sheryl Crow plays bass and Shires’ husband, Jason Isbell, is on guitar.

Shires enlisted a “crew” of strong women “you could look up to and trust” to collaborate with on the track, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter tells USA TODAY.

She wrote “Our Problem” following her own experience seeking an abortion. She had a friend “who didn’t believe the same things I did” yet stayed by her side, even driving her to appointments. Her friend’s unconditional support and empathy for Shire’s choice helped her find peace.

“Sometimes, people who are anti-choice, they believe that others choose this flippantly almost,” she says. “Unless you’re around or have experienced it, you really don’t understand it as much.”

More Amanda Shires: The Highwomen rewrite 'Highwayman' song with women's stories

Shires released "Our Problem” on Jan. 22, coinciding with the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling establishing nationwide abortion rights.

Forty-eight years after the landmark decision, views on women’s reproductive rights are among the most polarizing in the country. This year, lawmakers in states including Montana, Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa and South Carolina are considering bills that would limit or change access to safe abortions in their states. Last March, as our country first grappled with the coronavirus pandemic, states including Ohio, Texas and Mississippi ruled that abortions were nonessential procedures and must be delayed. In October, conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett joined the Supreme Court, which experts say could challenge federal abortion rights for decades to come.

“The idea that we could regress to pre-Roe v. Wade? I mean, are you kidding me?” says Shires. “It seems like everything keeps slipping away little by little.”

This isn’t Shire’s first pro-choice song. She released "The Problem," which centers on a woman and man’s conversation about abortion, with Isbell last year. The lyrics and sound are very similar and share the chorus of “I'm on your side.” Like that song, proceeds from “Our Problem” benefit The Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama-based reproductive justice organization.

Shires and Isbell will perform "The Problem" on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" on Friday.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Amanda Shires enlists Cyndi Lauper, others on abortion song 'Our Problem'