09/19/2014 03:17 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Confessions of a Serial Songwriter: Second Guessing the Hits


I'm often in the minority. I can't predict which songs will be big fat hits. And I love others that aren't. So maybe I wouldn't be so good at A&R. That's OK with me.

In 1993 Sheryl Crow released her first album, Tuesday Night Music Club, (when she still was a brunette) (and I still lived in NY). I saw her on a late night talk show. She sang her single, "Run Baby Run." My eyes bugged. So did my ears. Who is that? Playing that guitar and singing all high and gritty...notes I could only hope to reach in a wimpy falsetto.

I didn't only dig her, I dug the song. A song about running away. I was semi-familiar with that too. Though I was hardly running from the same circumstances as the girl in the song, we're all running from something. For me it was commitment. I had been married before and it didn't turn out so well. So the idea of running away from my new relationship struck a chord. No pun intended.

Sheryl's performance made me want to hear more. Such was the function of a single back then. It made you want to hear the rest of the album because chances were there would be other songs that were just as good. Maybe even better.

My boyfriend, the object of my affection at the time, (and of my commitment resistance) had discovered this Sheryl Crow too. Apart from me. He was living in LA. I have to admit, I dug him a little more for digging the same music I dug...for getting why I 'got it.' When he came to visit he brought me a Tuesday Night Music Club CD. Not that I couldn't have gotten my hands on it myself, but well, it was sweet he got it there first. Music is a divine gift of love. For the next couple of weeks it was on constant rotation in my 12th Street apartment. So was he.

Meanwhile, whenever I worked out at the infamous New York Health & Racquet Club, I listened to music on my Sony Cassette Walkman. I can't remember if the Discman was available yet, but even if it was, I hadn't gotten around to the update. So in order to listen to Sheryl's album while on the treadmill I had to transfer the contents of the CD onto a blank cassette tape courtesy of my stereo system. Remember those?

But there was a problem. I had to leave off one song because the running time of my cassette was a few minutes shorter than the CD. "Hmm," thought I, "Which song is expendable?" I loved her whole album...the dark and complicated "Can't Cry Anymore" and "No One Said It Would Be Easy." The ones full of pain and acceptance. That's the kind of girl I am...(Oooh...that would be a good song title.) After much consideration, I decided the one song I could live without, if I had to, was "All I Wanna Do." It was very clever and undeniably infectious, but perhaps not my particular cup of tea. It was so happy. I can't help it. I'd rather cry than dance. (Oooh another good song title.)

Then what happened? "Run Baby Run" didn't quite live up to its expectations as a single but "All I Wanna Do" was a Big Fat Hit and it launched Sheryl's career. Like I said...What do I know?

I'm as wrong as often as I'm right. Maybe more often. But I feel what I feel and I'm sticking to it. I won't change my mind just to be in the majority. That's Monday morning quarterbacking. Plus, I'm glad I had a choice between all those great songs. All on one album. How often does that happen any more?

I was also wrong about another thing. It took a while but I married the boyfriend I was afraid to commit to. The one who made sure I had the music I love in my life. In more ways than one. And he still does. Admittedly, I can be a handful sometimes but apparently he is strong enough. :)

I believe I was attracted to Sheryl because I was drawn to things I wished I could be. She was (still is) what I was (still am) in my own private fantasy. Rocker Chic. Sexy but not sexed up. Writing this blog has made me want to put my money where my mouth is. I'm signing up for guitar lessons and I'm going to try to locate my inner Sheryl. Sometimes I think it's too late. But I'm hoping I'm wrong about that too.


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