David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 152: Sheryl Crow (A Change Would Do You Good)

June 8, 2022

Every musical artist must face the same dilemma when they have released a successful debut album. Do they replicate and face further pigeon-holing or renovate and face no one giving a damn?  One can make a strong case that The Cars, The Knack, Dire Straits, Joe Jackson, The Go-Go's, Foreigner, Hootie & The Blowfish, and Meat Loaf, to name a few, all were led to believe that a change would not do them good.

And then we have Sheryl Crow. When Crow released her second album, the self-titled Sheryl Crow, she must have felt a lot of pressure given the success of Tuesday Night Music Club. Should she deliver more quirky, sassy, breezy pop songs like "All I Wanna Do" and "Leaving Las Vegas," or offer darker-edged songs, lighter on the hooks, yet heavier on the heart? "Maybe Angels," the esoteric, borderline metal opener from Sheryl Crow suggested she would take the renovation route. When she sings in the bridge, "I believed I could leave," one could not be faulted for believing she was making a musical statement.

"A Change Would Do You Good," the second song on the album, by title alone seemed the defining statement for something different. And yet, it presented hopeful thinking, not spirited declaration. "A Change Would Do You Good" sounds a bit like "Leaving Las Vegas" and "All I Wanna Do," evolving like an Escher painting, Crow singing that a change would do us good, with the hand claps from her breakthrough hit "All I Wanna Do" and an overall beat very similar to "Leaving Las Vegas," implicating little to no change. Even the enunciation of the final two words of each chorus, "for good" in "Leaving Las Vegas" and "you good" in "A Change Would Do You Good," merged in my mind. Change appeared minimal.

One wonders just how firmly Crow's tongue was implanted in her ironic cheek. Is she ignoring her own message? Most online references declare that the third stanza is truly about herself, as based upon interviews with her and her fellow song-writers. She does name check Buddy from "All I Wanna Do," again, but after that I am not sure what "chasing dragons with plastic swords" means. I also certainly have no interest in exploring the line "Jack off Jimmy, everybody wants more." 

As if to feed even more the "did she/didn't she change" confusion, three videos were apparently made. Maybe Crow wanted to cover all her bases. My favorite of the three videos shows her throwing her own stuff out the apartment window, as if finally kicking out the no-good lover, while she sings in the alleyway below. Of the three videos, this most directly seems to suggest that she knows a change would do her good. (I will link to this video for the perfunctory link below.) In the long run, I think we ALL know that a change would do us good, but few of us are brave enough to make those changes.

Another interesting factor is that three other songs from the album were released as singles before "A Change Would Do You Good." Single releases are often a record company decision, not an artist's decision. If that was the case here, it implies that A&M would rather project Crow through "Everyday Is A Winding Road" or "If It Makes You Happy" than "A Change Would Do You Good." "Everyday Is A Winding Road" also sounds Tuesday Night Music Club-ish, but maybe it would generate less pause to reflect upon the irony of the lyrics.

Throughout Sheryl Crow, the lyrics suggest a kind of introspection that has her staring down an intersection, winding roads or straight roads. "These are the days anything goes," Crow belts on "Everyday Is A Winding Road," lending credence to a theory that she was ready to try anything, especially if, as she sings on "Home," that "everything I wanted is now driving me away." How often do we hear about musicians (or other artists) finally achieving stardom and then realizing that something is missing?

For the record, I don't want Crow to change anything. All of these songs are fantastic, as is most of her entire canon of work. She maintained a pretty high level of success for a longer period of time than many of her contemporaries. I would say that it's a blessing that she allowed this change/not quite change ambiance to infuse her second album. This isn't Tuesday Night Music Club II. We certainly didn't need another Fairweather Johnson, even if she opened up for Hootie & The Blowfish many years later when arguably she was the much bigger act.

I hope she left "A Change Would Do You Good" as the encore song, leaving the message as the clear transition to the aging frat band following her.

Crow, Sheryl. "A Change Would Do You Good." Sheryl Crow. A&M. 1996. Link here. 

Day 151: The Godfathers. "Love is Dead."

Day 153: Tom Lehrer "Be Prepared."

See complete list here.