Wednesday, January 18, 2012

36 Songs, 36 Days(2012 Edition), Day Three: If It Makes You Happy by Sheryl Crow

I can't hide it..and I can't really explain it. But I have a serious, serious thing for Sheryl Crow.

And I do acknowledge on some level it's the 'She's Hawt, So She Must Be Good' principle that all men seem to operate on--how else can you explain the thoroughly befuddling career of Katy Perry?--but there's more to it than that. This is a woman with some legitimate chops; much as Fiona Apple was Tori Amos if Tori studied jazz as opposed to classical music, Crow can be seen as Bonnie Raitt if she studied country and western instead of the blues. Not to say that there isn't some blues in Sheryl's blood--many of the songs off the eponymous album this came from and especially the one that followed it, The Globe Sessions, bear overpowering echoes of Crow's then-paramour Eric Clapton...but Crow's original flavor is the flavor of Opryland mixed with the best qualities of MOR-tinged pop.

Of course, I do find it amusing that in this phase of her career, before she decided to go wandering blind through the corridors of pop rock history (I'm sorry, Ms. Crow, but there was just no excuse for Detours), there is such a sharp divide in her song-smithing. You can almost reorder all these early albums into a 'rock' side and a 'easy listening' side. In spite of its somewhat laid back orchestration, I'd like to think this would end up on Sheryl Crow's 'rock' side. There's a stinging indictment that runs throughout the song's lyrics (and one that I can't help but think is directed at Clapton, even if the song as a whole is ostensively about the music business as a whole) that certainly plays off of the fuzzy-but-melodic guitar riffs.

To me it's weird looking at this in the context of where Crow's career will go after its follow-up. Given how she's sneering here about how bellyaching musicians (she's looking at you, Eric) need to shut up if they also talk about how great it is to play music, the very pop turn she takes beginning with Cmon! Cmon! that just degrades until we get, yes, Detours* seems a touch cynical. And looking at the video now, depicting Sheryl as an example of a vintage rocker in a museum full of extinct creatures is downright hilarious in retrospect. Don't take my word for it...look.

I admit, I look upon this song with some nostalgia; it evokes memories of cracking open this one and The Globe Sessions and feeding the CD into my computer at work so I could experience it, like, right now. And I further admit that even if she continues to churn out stuff like Detours, I will still buy it because there's still enough 'She's Hawt So She Must Be Good' running through my blood that I will put up with half-assed psuedo-Warren-Zevon storytelling about future gas riots. But taking this song in and of's got the stuff.

*--I know Ms. Crow has released another album since Detours--hell, technically two, since she followed up 100 Miles From Memphis with a live album of...well, stuff from 100 Miles From Memphis.  And I do own it, but I have not listened to it yet.  Make of it what you will.

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