Sheryl Crow – A Change Would Do You Good

I’ve been a Sheryl Crow fan since I heard her first songs. The lyrics she writes with Jeff Trott are different than the usual pop song. Many of their songs are abstract which I like.

Crow wrote this with guitarist Jeff Trott and drummer Brian MacLeod during a six-month stay in New Orleans. The song shows an array of images to highlight what needs changing in someone’s life.

This song peaked at #1 in the Billboard US Adult Alternative Songs, #8 in the UK, and #2 in Canada in 1997.

If you want to check out something new Sheryl has done…check out this piece from Christian from christiansmusicmusings about Sheryl and Citizen Cope covering a Bill Withers song. A very good version of Lonely Town, Lonely Street.

In this song, she takes a gentle swipe at the Material Girl who inspired this verse…and a few others with:

Canine, feline, Jekyll and Hyde
Wear your fake fur on the inside
Queen of south beach, aging blues
Dinner’s at six, wear your cement shoes
I thought you were singing your heart out to me
Your lips were syncing and now I see

Jeff Trott: I don’t know how we were talking about Madonna, but the second verse of “A Change Would Do You Good” was directed at Madonna. “You wear your fake fur on the inside.” It’s been awhile. I can’t think of all the lyrics. But one of them was “Mercedes Ruehl and a rented Lear.”

“We were trying to come up with something like the Staple Singers. Mavis Staples is one of those legendary soul singer/songwriters, and Sheryl and I have this affinity for those old soul songs, Motown, stuff like that. We’re always trying to find those rare, rare songs for inspiration.”

Songfacts

The trio came up with so many lyric ideas that they decided to throw them all in a hat and draw them out, leading to a string of non-sequiturs that tie the song together. Trott said: “Sheryl just picked them out randomly and put them on a piece of paper, and we all read them. We all thought, ‘Whoa, this actually makes sense, even though it’s so oblique and completely abstract.’ So, we put this thing together and tried to keep the order pretty close, just swapping a couple of the lines to make more sense.”

So, a change would do who good? According to Trott, the first verse is about producer Bill Bottrell, who walked out on the making of the album. While the lyrics are biting, Trott says it was all in fun. “She had a little bit of resentment towards him, but not in a harsh way, but in a playful kind of way.”

He’s a platinum canary, drinkin’ Falstaff beer
Mercedes Ruehl, and a rented Lear
Bottom feeder insincere
Prophet lo-fi pioneer

The above lyrics are often misquoted, but Trott confirmed they indeed reference Mercedes Ruehl. The Academy Award-winning actress also starred in the 1999 thriller The Minus Man, in which Crow made her debut film appearance.

After some convincing, Crow agreed to make the last verse about herself:

I’ve been thinking ’bout catching a train
Leave my phone machine by the radar range
Hello it’s me, I’m not at home
If you’d like to reach me, leave me alone

Three music videos were made. The first, a black-and-white clip directed by Crow and Lance Acord, shows the singer both performing out on the street and tossing her belongings out of a window in the background.

The star-studded second video, directed by Michel Gondry, has Crow magically manipulating characters’ lives, loosely inspired by the classic sitcom Bewitched. Cameos include Mary Lynn Rajskub, Heather Matarazzo, Jeff Garlin, Ellen DeGeneres, Molly Shannon, Andy Dick and Toby Huss.

The third video consists of footage from a live VH1 performance.

This was covered by Dean Geyer and Lea Michele on the 2012 Glee episode “Makeover.”

A Change Would Do You Good

Ten years living in a paper bag,
Feedback baby, he’s a flipped out cat,
He’s a platinum canary, drinkin’ Falstaff beer,
Mercedes rule, and a rented leer.

Bottom feeder insincere,
High fed low fat pioneer,
Sell the house and go to school.
Pretty young girlfriend, daddy’s jewel.

A change,
(A change would do you good)
Would do you good,
(A change would do you good)
I think a change,
(A change would do you good)
Would do you good.
(A change would do you good)

God’s little gift is on the rag,
Poster girl posing in a fashion mag,
Canine, feline, Jekyll and Hyde?
Wear your fake fur on the inside.

Queen of south beach, aging blues,
Dinners at six, wear your cement shoes,
I thought you were singing your heart out to me,
Your lips were singing and now I see.

A change,
(A change would do you good)
Would do you good,
(A change would do you good)
I think a change,
(A change would do you good)
Would do you good.
(A change would do you good)

A change,
(A change would do you good)
Would do you good,
(A change would do you good)
I think a change,
(A change would do you good)
Would do you good.
(A change would do you good)

Chasing dragons with plastic swords,
Jack off jimmy everybody wants more,
Scully and angel on the kitchen floor,
And I’m calling buddy on the ouija board.

I’ve been thinking ’bout catching a train,
Leave my phone machine by the radar range,
“Hello it’s me, I’m not at home,
If you’d like to reach me, leave me alone”

A change,
(A change would do you good)
Would do you good,
(A change would do you good)

“Hello it’s me, I’m not at home,
If you’d like to reach me, leave me alone”

A change,
(A change would do you good)
Would do you good,
(A change would do you good)
I think a change,
(A change would do you good)
Would do you good.
(A change would do you good)

 

 

 

Sheryl Crow – Soak Up The Sun

I was reading Jeremy in Hong Kong’s post about Negative Visualisation which was really interesting. It made me think of a line in this song “It’s not having what you want
It’s wanting what you’ve got.” Check out the post if you can…

The song peaked at #15 in the Billboard 100, #24 in Canada, #19 in New Zealand, and #16 in the UK in 2002.

The song was on the C’mon, C’mon album that peaked at #2 in the Billbord Album Charts. During the Glastonbury Festival in June 2019, Sheryl Crow dedicated the song to Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

In the video, Sheryl Crow showed off more skin than she ever had before. She also posed provocatively for the cover of Stuff magazine around the time this was released. She said she did it to prove that women over the age of 40 could still be sexy.

Image result for stuff magazine sheryl crow

Songfacts

Crow’s co-writer, Jeff Trott, came up with the idea for this on a flight from Portland, Oregon, to New York. He told Songfacts: “I’m thinking this is really ironic that I’m leaving Portland being soaked in rain, and I’m actually going to New York to soak up some sun. I’m going to New York to soak up some sun. That’s got a ring to it. That’s kind of cool.

Then I started thinking about the sun, and I started thinking of these Beach Boys-style harmonies. On that five-hour flight, I had come up with the whole song completely in my head, not all the lyrics necessarily. I had a good chunk of the chorus of ‘Soak Up The Sun,’ but I had harmonies and everything all in my head, and I’m just having to scratch it down on a piece of paper.”

As Trott and Crow started working on the song together, they started talking about the then-recent Columbine shootings, where two students went on a killing spree at their high school before committing suicide.

“We kind of carried that over into the song as the voice of Sheryl as a young teenager with a lot of oddball friends who can’t really quite make out why people are the way they are,” Trott told us. “There’s a reference to ‘I’ve got my 45 on so I can rock on.’ The 45 on was like a kid with a gun, originally, and then we thought that’s a little scary.

We were talking about Columbine and we’re like okay I’ve got my 45 on, so I can rock on, like I can blast you guys. I’m going to blast all the people that are bugging me. That’s kind of where we were at with it, and then we said that’s just a little too… over the top.”

The video was part of a promotional deal with American Express. During the shoot, footage was also collected for an American Express commercial, which came out looking very similar to Crow’s video. American Express helped pay the production costs, hoping that viewers would remember their product every time they saw the video, since it looked so much like the commercial. MTV does not allow sponsors to pay for videos, but because the card never appeared in the video, they didn’t know about the deal and gave it plenty of airplay. Sting had a similar deal with Jaguar in his video for “Desert Rose.”

Crow had some high-profile help with the backing vocals on C’mon C’mon. Liz Phair sang backup on this track, and Stevie Nicks sang on the title track and “Diamond Road.” In 2001, Sheryl helped Stevie write and produce some of her album Trouble In Shangri-La.

This casual song about enjoying the simple things in life was very marketable for Crow, as it enjoyed success on pop radio and was a #1 on the Adult Top 40 chart.

Trott was shocked when he first saw the music video, which completely dulled the song’s edge and transformed it into a fun-in-the-sun surf song. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, Sheryl’s surfing. What the hell is that? It’s not even close to what it’s about.’

I think having Sheryl on a surfboard, being at the beach, is probably more palatable then having her in a trench coat shooting people in a lunch cafeteria. Not that I thought that that’s what the song was, but my impression from writing it was that it was much edgier than what came across. The video of course is like, hey, we’re having a holiday. We’re surfing. We’re catching some sun. Everything’s cool. Strum acoustic guitar. Like, wow! That’s not even close to what we thought it was about.”

Best Buy used this song in television commercials to pitch their electronic consumer goods, conveniently ignoring the song’s message of enjoying the simple things in life:

I don’t have digital
I don’t have diddly squat
It’s not having what you want
It’s wanting what you’ve got

Crow performed a kid-friendly version on Sesame Street in 2003, joining Elmo and the gang to sing about the adventures of the letter I in “I Soaks Up The Sun.”

Soak Up The Sun

My friend the communist
Holds meetings in his RV
I can’t afford his gas
So I’m stuck here watching tv

I don’t have digital
I don’t have diddly squat
It’s not having what you want
It’s wanting what you’ve got

I’m gonna soak up the sun
I’m gonna tell everyone
To lighten up, I’m gonna tell ’em that
I’ve got no one to blame
For every time I feel lame
I’m looking up

I’m gonna soak up the sun
I’m gonna soak up the sun

I’ve got a crummy job
It don’t pay near enough
To buy the things it takes
To win me some of your love

Every time I turn around
I’m looking up, you’re looking down
Maybe something’s wrong with you
That makes you act the way you do

I’m gonna soak up the sun
I’m gonna tell everyone
To lighten up, I’m gonna tell ’em that
I’ve got no one to blame
For every time I feel lame
I’m looking up

I’m gonna soak up the sun
While it’s still free
I’m gonna soak up the sun
Before it goes out on me

Don’t have no master suite
But I’m still the king of me
You have a fancy ride, but baby
I’m the one who has the key

Every time I turn around
I’m looking up, you’re looking down
Maybe something’s wrong with you
That makes you act the way you do
Maybe I am crazy too

I’m gonna soak up the sun
I’m gonna tell everyone
To lighten up, I’m gonna tell ’em that
I’ve got no one to blame
For every time I feel lame
I’m looking up

I’m gonna soak up the sun
Got my 45 on
So I can rock on

Sheryl Crow – My Favorite Mistake

This song has a dirty sounding guitar intro and Sheryl’s voice drives it along.

This is rumored to be about Eric Clapton, who Crow dated for a while. She has said it is not about one person in particular, but a composite of guys she went out with who wasn’t good for her. Clapton appears on her 1999 album Sheryl Crow and Friends.

Crow has said that it is definitely not about Clapton…she has said: “I can’t look at that relationship as a mistake.”

The song peaked at #20 in the Billboard 100 in 1998. It was on her album The Globe Sessions which peaked at #5 in 1998 in the Billboard Album Charts.

From Songfacts

Like Carly Simon, Crow dated many high-profile guys, making the song rife for speculation. Among her paramours: Kid Rock, Lance Armstrong, Jakob Dylan, and Owen Wilson.

In a 2015 interview, we asked Jeff Trott, Crow’s frequent songwriting collaborator and guitarist, to weigh in on the mystery. He said:

“I’ve never ever talked to Sheryl about it – never, ever. One of these days, I’m just going to like throw it out there. Everyone just assumed it was Eric Clapton, but I thought it could be Jakob Dylan from The Wallflowers. The Wallflowers supported Sheryl Crow when I was in her touring band.

But she dated Eric Clapton for a little while, for about six months … But he was really into Sheryl, big time. I thought for sure they were going to get married. I think the real deal is that he really wanted to have a very traditional marriage, meaning that Sheryl would take care of things, in a traditional housewife role. At the time, this was like when she was pretty much peaking and playing everywhere, and she would’ve had to give that up.” (Here’s the complete interview with Jeff Trott.)

The video is pretty straightforward, with Crow miming and vamping to the song in an unadorned room. It was directed by Samuel Bayer, who used the sepia look and film transitions that show up in a lot of his work.

My Favorite Mistake

I woke up and called this morning
The tone of your voice was a warning
That you don’t care for me anymore

I made up the bed we sleep in
I looked at the clock when you creep in
It’s six AM and I’m alone

Did you know when you go it’s the perfect ending
To the bad day I was just beginning
When you go all I know is you’re my favorite mistake

Your friends act sorry for me
They watch you pretend to adore me
But I’m no fool to this game

Now here comes your secret lover
She’ll be unlike any other
Until your guilt goes up in flames.

Did you know when you go it’s the perfect ending
To the bad day I’d gotten used to spending
When you go all I know is you’re my favorite mistake
You’re my favorite mistake

Well maybe nothing lasts forever
Even when you stay together
I don’t need forever after, but it’s your laughter won’t let me go
So I’m holding on this way

Did you know could you tell you were the only one
That I ever loved?
Now everything’s so wrong
Did you see me walking by, did it ever make you cry?

Now you’re my favorite mistake
Yeah you’re my favorite mistake
You’re my favorite mistake

Sheryl Crow – If It Makes You Happy

I was an instant fan when I first heard Sheryl Crow. During the nineties, there were many pop-oriented females that I listened to (Sarah Mclaughlin is one)…and ones that I didn’t at all (her last name rhymes with “tears” “beers” “fears”) but Sheryl was different. She was more in the rock and roll genre. I saw her open up for the Rolling Stones at Vanderbilt’s Stadium and she sounded great.

I have always liked her lyrics…she has fun with them and always kept them interesting. I’ll be posting more Sheryl songs this weekend.

This song peaked at #10 on the Billboard 100, #9 in the UK, #1 in Canada, and #12 in New Zealand in 1997.

It was on her self titled second studio album.

From Songfacts

This song describes a person who seems depressed or upset no matter what happens. According to Crow, the inspiration for the song was her feelings after the massive success of her first album, as her record label and the media put pressure on her to follow it up.

This won the Grammy award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. 

On her VH1 Storytellers appearance in 1998, Sheryl Crow said this was initially a country song, but she turned it into a rock song so she could get more exposure. 

The Australian lensman Keir McFarlane directed the video, which portrays Crow as an angry museum exhibit (10 years before the movie Night at the Museum). McFarlane also did the video for Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”

In 2011 Crow teamed up with chef Chuck White to write a cookbook called If It Makes You Healthy.

Crow was a huge fan of Tom Petty and said that this song was in some ways inspired by the way he played.

If It Makes You Happy

I belong, a long way from here
I put on a poncho and played for mosquitoes
And drank ’till I was thirsty again
We went searching, through thrift store jungles

Found Geronimo’s rifle, Marilyn’s shampoo
And Benny Goodman’s cursive pen
Well, okay, I made this up
I promise you I’d never give up

If it makes you happy
It can’t be that bad
If it makes you happy
Then why the hell are you so sad?

Get down, real low down
You listen to Coltrane, derail your own train
Well, who hasn’t been there before?

I come ’round, around the hard way
Bring you comics in bed
Scrape the mold off the bread
And serve you french toast again
Okay, I still get stoned
I’m not the kind of girl you’d take home

If it makes you happy
It can’t be that bad
If it makes you happy
Then why the hell are you so sad?

If it makes you happy
It can’t be that bad
If it makes you happy
Then why the hell are you so sad?

We’ve been far, far away from here
I put on a poncho and played for mosquitoes
And everywhere in between
Well, okay, we get along
So what if right now, everything’s wrong?

If it makes you happy
It can’t be that bad
If it makes you happy
Then why the hell are you so sad?

If it makes you happy
It can’t be that bad
If it makes you happy
Then why the hell are you so sad?