Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sheryl Crow - 100 Miles From Memphis

I have to admit that I wasn’t all that excited when I bought the new Sheryl Crow album, 100 Miles From Memphis. She’s fine- which was kind of why I wasn’t all that excited. I really like discovering a new artist (new to me anyway) or a song with a really unique sound. While I loved Sheryl’s first album (Tuesday Night Music Club back in 1994), she’s had a hit here and there since then, but quite honestly I think of her music as being a little boring. Why did I buy the album then? That’s a valid question. I recognize that not everyone is interested in breaking new ground when they listen to music and frankly this popped up in the Top 10 albums on iTunes, so it was more of a “Fine, I’ll get it.”

I happened to buy this right before I left for my family’s annual week at my parents’ lake house in Michigan. We arrived Saturday, and I had this album on kind of in the background shortly after we arrived and were still bringing in our suitcases and generally getting organized; therefore, I didn’t really form an impression since I wasn’t listening all that closely. The next morning, I went for a short run, not even long enough to get all the way through the album. Listening to something while I run is quite the opposite of having it on in the background while unpacking- I’m focused on nothing BUT the music (well, that and my watch so that I don’t miss my designated walk breaks). I’m not sure Sheryl is quite right to get you pumped for a run while you’re on vacation and would rather be driving into town for a fattening latte and muffin at 9 a.m. Feeling annoyed and in somewhat of an “I told you so” (to myself) frame of mind, I wasn’t all that excited about continuing to listen.

This afternoon, however, that changed. After several midday hours of boating (by others, not me), my husband, three of my kids, my niece and son’s friend who came along for the trip all decided to go over to the Lake Michigan beach, which is a short boat ride away. This left just my oldest daughter and I in the house (I’m getting to the point, believe me). As I lay on the couch on the porch with the trees blowing outside, the breeze coming in the window and the sparkly lake right outside, I had an epiphany: THAT was the perfect time to listen to someone like Sheryl Crow. Normally the majority of my music listening is done on my train ride and walk to and from work every day. Because one is prone to feeling like a single cow in a herd of cattle during such commutes, a little something special coming through the headphones is a welcome treat. However, lying on the porch on this beautiful afternoon, all I wanted was pleasant music that I didn’t have to work hard at all to enjoy. And that is exactly what Sheryl Crow gave me.

Fresh on the heels of my newfound appreciation of Sheryl, I took her for another run, this time a long one that got me all the way through the album twice (which doesn’t necessarily mean that I ran far, just that it took a long time). This time Sheryl was a welcome companion- she stayed calm and supportive when I walked a little extra (although it doesn’t look like she walks at all during her runs).

I did a bit of research because I’m always curious about what inspired a certain album. I learned that Sheryl grew up in a little town in Missouri, which according to Mapquest is 108.98 miles from Memphis; hence the title of the album (we’ll forgive the extra 8.98 miles since in all fairness we don’t know what she used as her origin and destination to calculate 100 miles). She apparently wanted to give this album a bit of an R&B feel, which in my opinion is pretty subtle- I would not have picked up on this myself. Here is a fun fact that I cannot believe I didn’t know: Sheryl sang backup for Michael Jackson early in his career. WHAT??? She says that after he died last year she was inspired to do an album that paid tribute to him and his sound a little. The last song on the album is Sheryl covering “I Want You Back”, and it pretty much sounds exactly like the original except with her voice instead of Michael’s (and even those sound pretty similar, now that I am paying attention).

If you already like Sheryl Crow, you will like this album. If you want the perfect music to chill with on the weekend, this is for you. If you are looking for something revolutionary that kind of shakes things up, probably not. Recommended tracks:

• Our Love is Fading (a little livelier)
• Eye to Eye (Keith Richards plays on this one)
• Sign Your Name (remake of the Terrence Trent D’Arby song, Justin Timberlake sings backup)
• Say What You Want (good lyrics)

If you do like Sheryl AND you’re looking for something new, you might like:

Same ideaThe Corrs (feat. Bono): When the Stars Go Blue
A little edgierThe Cardigans: I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need to be Nicer
StretchLoretta Lynn (feat. Jack White): Portland, Oregon

Here is the video for the first single on the album, Summer Day.  Enjoy

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