Pop-rock juggernaut Sheryl Crow takes the Flagstaff stage at the amphitheater
By Seth Muller
Published on 08/04/2011
While the work of postmodern poets seldom crosses into the pop culture realm to connect with mainstream audiences, consider a stanza from the poem “Fun” by Wyn Cooper, first published in his 1987 collection “The Country of Here Below”:
"We are drinking beer at noon on Tuesday/In a bar that faces a giant car wash/The good people of the world are washing their cars/On their lunch hours, hosing and scrubbing/As best they can in skirts and suits.”
In one of the few rare moments where a poem reaches mass-media proportions, Cooper’s “Fun” became the basis of the Sheryl Crow song “All I Wanna Do.” It peaked at No. 2 song on the Billboard chart in 1994 and the single sold more than 500,000 copies—a wicked stroke of good luck for the poet, who collected hefty royalties and sent his poetry collection into multiple printings.
That song also propelled Crow into the stratosphere of female singer-songwriters. And anyone interested in compelling songwriting, the fact that the song was based on a poem and filled with rare imagery made her all the more interesting.
The idea of Crow as not-just-another-pop-charts siren also surfaces with her sophomore self-titled album. Along with being a solid rock record, Crow stepped out with some political overtones. In the song “Love is a Good Thing,” she sings: “Watch out sister, watch out brother, watch our children while they kill each other with a gun they bought at Walmart discount stores.”
Just those lyrics in a non-charting song on the album earned it a ban from Walmart stores across the country. Further controversy stemmed from the track, “Hard to Make a Stand,” which makes references to abortion.
That second album came out 15 years ago this year. Flash-forward to now, and Crow is still a major singer-songwriter who is touring on her latest album, 100 Miles from Memphis and is arriving in Flagstaff Thursday at the Amphitheater at Fort Tuthill.
Crow comes armed with nearly a dozen hit songs, including “All I Wanna Do,” “Leaving Las Vegas,” “Strong Enough,” “Can’t Cry Anymore,” “Run, Baby, Run,” “If It Makes You Happy,” “Every Day is a Winding Road,” “A Change Will Do You Good,” “Soak Up the Sun” and “My Favorite Mistake.”
Of these songs, Crow says that she almost always has to play “If It Makes You Happy,” a major crowd favorite among her hits. And, being that it’s summer at an outdoor venue and all, “Soak Up the Sun” is another must-play. She also looks to play a number of songs from 100 Miles, which Crow says “comes from the R&B” tradition.
With most of these songs on tap, Crow promises to make this a show that’s “about the songs and the musicians” and not any kind of over-produced lights-and-pyrotechnic concert. And, in a way, it’s for a good cause.
“Our production is pretty paired down on this tour for a couple of reasons,” she says. “The biggest reason is we’re trying to be green on the tour. We’re not bringing the big lighting rig, which takes a lot of electricity and puts off a lot of heat. We’re using lights that are more energy-efficient and doing things in a more sustainable way.”
Crow says she’s enjoyed touring this year, which is enhanced by the fact that she has brought her two adopted sons, 1-year-old Levi and 4-year-old Wyatt, on tour with her. “It makes it a lot of fun because you’re visiting water parks, science museums and reptile gardens along the way,” she says. “It’s fun to see things spark in their eyes when we have different experiences … It keeps me young-hearted.”
Along with motherhood, Crow has tackled other jobs besides singing and songwriting. She appeared on two television shows, “Cougar Town” and “30 Rock,” and she just co-authored a cookbook called “If It Makes You Healthy.”
And it all started with that laidback observational pop hit based on a poem in 1994. And there’s a good chance the song will get play at the amphitheater. “For awhile, I had I retired ‘All I Wanna Do’ from my live shows,” Crow notes. “But I have brought that back and I really like playing it now.”
See Sheryl Crow Thu, Aug. 4 at the Pepsi Amphitheater at Ft. Tuthill, exit 337 off I-17 in Flagstaff. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $51 to $102. For more info on the show, see www.flagstaffamp.com or call 214-6485. For more on Sheryl Crow, see www.sherylcrow.com.