Happy birthday, Sheryl Crow! The legendary singer-songwriter is turning 59 today.
Crow grew up in a sturdy Midwestern community in Kennett, Missouri. She cut her teeth in the music world singing jingles in commercials. However, with her incredible singing chops, she went on to land gigs as a backup singer for mega-artists like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Jimmy Buffett. But that was just the beginning.
Striking out on her own, Crow recorded her first album in the late ’90s. However, after recording the songs, she felt it was “too produced” and “slick.” A feeling that would prompt her to add more acoustic grit to the familiar sound that we all know her for today.
With her Missouri roots and history singing for pop icons, Crow’s talents range far and wide. She’s had crossover hits spanning genres including country, pop, and soft rock. As her fans know, Crow just likes to create the kind of music that makes you want roll the windows down and crank it up.
She’s not only a talented singer, but a songwriter and musician at that. Crow says she “kind of just plays whatever is around,” when asked about how many instruments she can play.
Let’s all take a moment to celebrate Sheryl Crow’s birthday with her top 5 songs.
Sheryl Crow’s Debut Single: ‘If It Makes You Happy’
This track is off her self-titled album. The radio hit won Crow to Grammy awards for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Best Rock Album at the 1997 award show. Crow says she’s a huge fan of Tommy Petty. And, in a way, the song is inspired by the late rocker. Listen close and you can pick out the grains of inspiration weaved throughout the tune.
The edgy song describes a person that seems upset no matter what happens.
“If it makes you happy / Then why the hell are you so sad?” part of the chorus reads.
From the distorted guitars to the raw timbre in her voice when she gets to the chorus, it’s easy to hear why the song connected with music fans across country, rock, and pop genres.
The Blockbuster Hit ‘All I Wanna Do’
In 1994, Crow skyrocketed to the top of the charts with “All I Wanna Do.” The track won Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
The inspiration for the song came from a poem titled “Fun.” Crow happened to pick up a poem book during a jam session and the first line she read was “All I wanna do is have some fun.”
Crow used the song to paint a vivid picture of her LA lifestyle at the time. She sings of spending many nights staying up late, drinking, and playing in bars. Much to her fans’ surprise, Crow says that the song was a “throwaway” and that she wasn’t going to put it on the album. But with some encouragement from her brother, the song went on the album and the rest is history.
This single marks a complete 180 from previous hits in Crowe’s career. “Strong Enough” is from the album Tuesday Night Music Club. Crow would help organize a group of musical friends in LA on Tuesday nights. Crow was often the only woman in the club and this sparked inspiration for the song.
Travis Tritt later recorded an answer to Crow’s song, and titled it “Strong Enough To Be Your Man.”
The song implements percussive elements and a swinging acoustic guitar strum that take us back to classic country. A sound so familiar that it feels like a song you grew up listening to…but Crow’s vocals remind you that it was nothing like we’d ever heard before.
‘Everyday Is a Winding Road’
This hit track is from Crow’s self titled album. Like the true musical genius that she is, Crow played many different instruments on this record.
This fortune cookie-like song lyrics talk about the highs and lows of life. Additionally, Prince covered this on his 1999 album, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic.
‘Soak Up the Sun’
This feel good track was undoubtedly a success for Crow. “Soak Up the Sun” is off her fourth album C’mon C’mon.
This 2002 casual song about enjoying the simple things in life was very marketable for Crow. “Soak Up the Sun” is still a staple on people’s summer playlist.