Happy Birthday, Sheryl Crow! Celebrate with 10 stellar songs

Defining Moments with Sheryl Crow
Defining Moments with Sheryl Crow

Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow's career began as a small town school teacher turned jingle singer ("It's a good time for the great taste of McDonald's") and eventually, backup singer for Michael Jackson. But she dreamed of having a successful solo career, and after being introduced to a group of musicians who called themselves the "Tuesday Night Music Club," the rest, as they say, is history.

These days, in between recording and touring, Crow is a hard-core philanthropist, bringing awareness to everything from cancer research and education to wildlife and addiction. For her birthday today (Feb 11), we're celebrating by revisiting 10 stellar songs from her early body of work.

"If It Makes You Happy" (1996)

"So what if right now everything's wrong?"

Two music videos for the song were made, but to the surprise of no one, the version where Crow puts on a show in the endangered species section of a museum (dressed to kill) is most memorable. It peaked at No. 10 on the Hot 100 chart.

"My Favorite Mistake" (1998)

"I'm no fool to this game"

In 1998, fans wondered who Crow penned her "favorite mistake." She told Billboard at the time, "I'm the only person who will ever really know. I'm really private about who I've had relationships with, and I don't talk about them in the press." In 2002, she followed up with Billboard adding, "the mystery will always remain in the songs, besides, didn't we love that we were never quite sure who "You're So Vain" was about. Note: It is now 2016, and the cat is out of the bag about that. The song peaked at No. 2 on the Adult Pop Songs chart.

"Everyday Is A Winding Road" (1996)

"Everybody gets high, everybody gets low"

"A road song" that caught the attention of Prince, who covered the track on his album Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic. It peaked at No. 4 on the Adult Pop Songs chart.

"Leaving Las Vegas" (1994)

"I'm standing in the middle of the desert waiting for my ship to come in"

"This was the first song people actually knew who we were, and started coming to see us play," Crow said during her MTV Unplugged set. And in typical Vegas fashion, Elvis impersonators and Showgirls make their way into the video. It peaked at No. 8 on the Alternative Songs chart.

"Safe and Sound" (2002)

"There's beauty in release"

A hauntingly beautiful breakup song dedicated to Crow's ex, actor Owen Wilson. But gossip aside, her live performances (like this version below) should not be missed.

"Strong Enough" (1994)

"Just try and love me if you can"

Crow points out that the lyric "strong enough to be my man" is straight from the book of country, and with crossover appeal, the song peaked at No. 5 on the Hot 100 chart.

"All I Wanna Do" (1994)

"I like a good beer buzz, early in the morning"

Crow's breakthrough hit from her debut album was inspired by a poem titled "Fun" and was almost scrapped from the album. In an interview with Guitar.com, Crow said, "Everyone thought it was a throwaway. It wasn't even considered as a single for me." Luckily it made the cut - peaking at No. 2 on the Hot 100 chart.

"Soak Up the Sun" (2002)

"It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got"

If you haven't read the lyrics, this upbeat track, partially inspired by the Columbine shootings, is entirely overshadowed by its bright and optimistic video. For example, the lyric "I've got my 45 on so I can rock on" has a double meaning. Is it referring to a gun or a record? "It was much edgier than what came across," says co-writer Jeff Trott. The song hit No. 1 on the Adult Pop Songs chart.

"Steve McQueen" (2002)

"You won't catch this freebird, I'll already be long gone"

Inspired by late actor and motorcycle enthusiast (aka "the king of cool") and possibly also an ode to "All I Wanna Do," with the lyric "I still wanna have some fun." Crow channels an all-American rebel in the video, and "ain't takin' shit off no one" as she makes her big getaway, in, you guessed it, a fast machine. It peaked at No. 13 on the Adult Pop Songs chart.

"Anything But Down" (1998)

"Maybe we're just killing time"

A powerful anthem about a one-sided relationship. "You are a raging sea, I pull myself out everyday." The video showcases conflict between a person (Crow) and their subconscious - a push and pull. The song peaked at No. 7 on the Adult Pop Songs chart.

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