In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
I tell every kid, get in a cover band. It teaches you chops, it literally teaches you why some songs are classics, and it teaches you how to navigate a working band. With songwriting, there’s something to that idea of stealing from the best. You’re only as good as your references. And I pride myself on my references. I have tried to emulate the greatest rock stars and songwriters in the world. I try not to steal verbatim, but if they’ve influenced my work at all, I take a sense of pride in that. – Sheryl Crow, 2017
Sheryl Crow’s released a good hundred or so cover songs, so it’s plain she knows her way around them. She isn’t very adventurous with them, though – most of her covers are of songs or artists that are radio favorites, and they tend to sound very similar to the originals.
Here’s the thing, though. Crow saturates her covers with her essence, so much so that they just feel like Sheryl Crow songs. They reap the same success, too – “The First Cut Is the Deepest” is one of her biggest hits, and her version of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” won a Grammy. They never feel lazy, either. Crow is a professional, and she knows how to bring her affection for these songs across without phoning it in. Bottom line: If you like Sheryl Crow, you’ll like her covers, and you’ll be justified in doing so.
Here’s a sampling of Crow’s covers, spread out over albums, soundtracks, and one-off singles. Add them up and you have a pretty commendable collection.
Sheryl Crow – Keep on Growing (Derek and the Dominos cover)
From the soundtrack to 1995’s Boys on the Side comes this cover of “Keep on Growing,” the Derek and the Dominos deep cut. Crow leans into the groove and the positive message here, a recurring theme in her catalog. She also co-wrote “Somebody Stand By Me,” Stevie Nicks’ contribution to the soundtrack; that led to an ongoing friendship, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Nicks is the one giving the induction speech for Crow this Friday.
Sheryl Crow – Not Fade Away (Buddy Holly cover)
In 2006 Crow’s life was fairly chaotic, and she was tempted to skip her annual mammogram because she just didn’t have the time. Well, she made the time, and that mammogram saved her life. The doctors diagnosed Crow with stage zero cancer. She had a lumpectomy and radiation treatment, and her cancer went into remission. She’s since been very vocal about women getting regular mammograms. She also recorded “Not Fade Away” the following year, with all proceeds going toward breast cancer research. Which, of course, makes the title that much more appropriate. And it comes as no surprise that she’s got a way with the Bo Diddley beat.
Sheryl Crow – Here Comes the Sun (The Beatles cover)
You like jazz? You won’t find Crow’s answer to that eternal question from Bee Movie, but you will find her cover of “Here Comes the Sun” on its soundtrack. She brings the sun’s warmth to her vocals, and if it doesn’t make anyone forget the Abbey Road classic, it’s not meant to, and it does no damage either. Crow also covered the Beatles on the I Am Sam soundtrack in 2001, and would go on to cover another George Harrison song, “Beware of Darkness.”
Sheryl Crow – The Worst (The Rolling Stones cover)
Crow’s 2019 album Threads was loaded with guest appearances and featured four covers. One of them was a Rolling Stones cover, but it veered from the usual radio suspects; Crow selected “The Worst” from the Stones’ 1994 album Voodoo Lounge. She also landed the original song’s lead singer, one Keith Richards, to record the track with her, calling it “pure joy on speed” to work with him. The joy is there in the cover; replacing Keith’s croak with Sheryl’s lilt certainly doesn’t hurt it either.
Sheryl Crow – Beautiful Dreamer (Stephen Foster cover)
Mark Twain: Words & Music was a 2011 album designed to tell the story of Twain’s life through spoken word and song (Clint Eastwood plays the role of Twain). Some artists wrote songs for the project; other featured songs were already popular. Only one song came from that era, and that was “Beautiful Dreamer” by Stephen Foster. Crow gets to sing the song unadorned, and it showcases her talent as a singer like none of these other covers do. A truly wonderful performance.