Sheryl Crow might appeal to the masses, but that definitely doesn’t make her any less important. Here Kerry from Bad Bad Hats shares what drew her to Sheryl’s brand of soulful singer-songwriter pop. Side note: if you haven’t already heard Bad Bad Hats KNOCKOUT recent LP ‘Psychic Reader’ (Afternoon Records) I suggest you change that, like now.
The first time I ever heard a Sheryl Crow song was on volume two of Now That’s What I Call Music. Now 2 is probably my favorite of all the Nows. It has Britney Spears, Semisonic’s “Closing Time”, Garbage, and that amazing Mya and Blackstreet collaboration from the Rugrats movie. But “My Favorite Mistake” is the pièce de résistance of Now 2 (sorry, Fatboy Slim). And it could not have come into my life at a better time.
In 1999, I was 9 years old. We had a lesson on poetry in my fourth grade class and I took to it instantly. I loved the challenge of rhyming and maneuvering a complete story into a strict form. In the late 90s, I was rolling in boy bands and pop divas, but when I heard “My Favorite Mistake”, everything clicked. It was as catchy as the pop songs I loved, but it had a soul. This was also the time when teen romantic comedies were at their peak (10 Things I Hate About You, She’s All That, Drive Me Crazy, Never Been Kissed, etc.) and I was addicted to that stomach flip when the characters who are meant to be together (they deserve each other!) finally see the light. I’ve always believed that a great love song should give you the same flutter and I felt that the first time I heard “My Favorite Mistake”. It’s an impeccable love song. From then on I knew lyrics would be my medium. And I wanted to write like Sheryl.
I think the magic of Sheryl Crow is her ability to tell you everything in a single line. “You’re my favorite mistake” says it all. “All I wanna do is have some fun” says it all. Then on top of that, there’s this beautiful tension between the joy of her music and the melancholy her lyrics and voice betray. The apathy with which she delivers the line “I promised you I’d never give up” in “If It Makes You Happy” is completely tragic and I’ll never get over it.
Some people don’t think Sheryl Crow is very cool. But I think it’s super cool that Sheryl just does Sheryl. To me, her music is unpretentious and her songwriting is a perfect example of the craft. She’s one of those songwriters who writes because she has to, because that’s the only way she can shake what she’s feeling. And it comes through. All the joy, all the fear, everything. Her success made me feel, as a young songwriter, that there was a place for my voice in the music world too. She’ll always be one of my favorites. And I will continue to listen to her greatest hits on every road trip I take. Thanks to Sheryl, I think we’re all a little bit closer to feeling fine.