Produced by Hallway Entertainment
With her powerful vocals and unique storytelling, Sheryl Crow has succeeded in becoming a global music sensation. Incorporating elements of rock, country, pop, and folk into her music, she has gone on to win nine Grammy awards and sell over 50 million albums worldwide. She has performed alongside other music legends such as Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, and Sting.
A 4 part series, each episode of SHERYL CROW: SONG BY SONG explores the intimate and personal stories around a particular hit song including the immediate impact on pop culture, and its enduring musical legacy. Each song provides a calibrated insight into the unparalleled drama of a musician who paved her own path to become the iconic star she is today.
Episode 1 – Strong Enough
Sheryl Crow does not shy away from exposing her vulnerability through her music – and nowhere is this more evident than in “Strong Enough.” Sheryl’s candid and emotionally powerful music would go on to sell over 50 million albums worldwide – but the seeds of her big-time success were planted in a small town.
After graduating from college, she moved to St. Louis to work as an elementary school teacher. Sheryl’s first professional gigs were in commercials, singing backup and writing jingles for corporate clients. When royalty checks started to trump her teacher’s salary, Sheryl began to envision a career making music.
Sheryl left behind her teaching gig and headed to Los Angeles. She worked her way into several auditions as a backup singer and landed several gigs including Michael Jackson’s “Bad” world tour. There, Sheryl rubbed elbows with several stars and those connections paid off.
She signed on with A&M Records to cut her first album…but all did not go as expected. When the album was shelved, she began playing music and writing regularly with a pack of LA musicians. Finding new inspiration, Sheryl released her first album: The Tuesday Night Music Club on August 3, 1993.
The first two singles went under the radar before “Strong Enough” and its predecessor “All I Wanna Do” finally broke through. Although “Strong Enough” clearly reflected her inner strength – it also spoke honestly about Sheryl’s vulnerable side. Yet as her songs climbed the charts, resentment was stirring behind the scenes.
Episode 2 – If It Makes You Happy
In February of 1997, Sheryl Crow was all smiles as she accepted the fifth Grammy of her career for “If I Makes You Happy.” Yet just a few years before, she was hard pressed to convince the L.A. industry she deserved a shot as a solo artist.
Sheryl’s eventual success, so hard earned, proved to be bittersweet. Her breakout album, Tuesday Night Music Club, created resentment from her band-mates. Ready to shake off any bad vibes for her next record, Sheryl left the band and L.A. behind. She traveled to New Orleans with Tuesday Night producer Bill Botrel… but things didn’t go exactly as planned.
After parting ways with her record producer, Sheryl was eager to maintain momentum. She took over producing and was soon joined by songwriter Jeff Trott. Still stinging from her former band mates’ criticism in the aftermath of the first album, Sheryl’s new songs had a sharper edge. And nowhere was this attitude more apparent than in “If It Makes You Happy.”
The song proved to be an anthem that resonated with listeners and Sheryl’s decision to take over as producer earned her an unquestioned hit. The record sold more than 5 million copies and paved the way for two Grammys.
Episode 3 – My Favorite Mistake
By the summer 1998, Sheryl Crow’s wildest dreams of becoming an artist were coming true. With her debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club, and self-titled 2nd album both winning Grammies, Sheryl earned the respect of fans, critics and peers.
To avoid burnout, she decided to seek a change of scenery and moved to New York City. The vitality and energy of Manhattan served as inspiration for her next round of songs. Booking time in the Globe Studios, Sheryl was joined by songwriter and long-time collaborator Jeff Trott. A tape of forgotten jam session and Sheryl’s willingness to tap into her personal life for inspiration led to the creation “My Favorite Mistake.” The tune proved to be one of her most intimate songs to date.
The song’s nostalgic view of a relationship gone by, led to rampant speculation over the identity of Sheryl’s mystery muse. When her third album, The Globe Sessions, was released, “My Favorite Mistake” became the lead single.
The Globe Sessions won a Grammy for Rock Album of the Year and helped cement her position as a rock star. Just few years later, Sheryl was diagnosed with breast cancer – which shifted her priorities and spurred her to continue the personal songwriting that began with “My Favorite Mistake.”
Episode 4 – Redemption Day
In 1996, Sheryl Crow began recording her first solo album. After the pop-rock success of her debut record Tuesday Night Music Club, Sheryl was ready to write a song that made a social statement, following in the footsteps of musical heroes like Bob Dylan. Ignoring the pressure to conform to the type of songs that made her a breakout star, Sheryl found inspiration during a trip to war-torn Bosnia. “Redemption Day” was born, but the deep track was not released as a single.
But the song wouldn’t be lost to time. In 2003, Rick Rubin was continuing work with Johnny Cash on his latest American Recordings album. The project featured a stripped down sound – often just Cash and his guitar – and helped to revitalize the music legend’s career. While gathering material for the new record, Rubin presented Cash with Sheryl’s “Redemption Day.” Cash loved the song and called Sheryl to get her feedback during the recording process. But before the album could be released, Cash passed away. Meanwhile, Sheryl began showing a renewed interest in country music. She moved to Nashville and was embraced the vibrant musical community.
Finally in 2010, seven years after Cash recorded her song, Sheryl learned “Redemption Day” would be released, making the track list for American IV: Ain’t No Grave. The cover gave the song a new cult following. In 2011, Crow left her label to pursue a country music. On the advice of neighbor Brad Paisley, she signed with Warner Music Nashville and released her first country album Feels Like Home.
1. Sheryl Crow
2. Amy Grant – Singer Songwriter
3. Rascal Flatts – Country Group
4. Willie Nelson
5. Lissie – Singer/Songwriter
6. Jeff Trott (co-writer)
7. David Wild – Rolling Stone writer
8. Andrew Hampp – Billboard Writer
9. Jimmy Iovine – founder of Interscope Records
10. Stephen “Scooter” Weintrab – Manager