This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Honourable Mention Song #11: Soak Up The Sun by Sheryl Crow (as Nominated by Nancy Martin).
If there is one thing that is becoming clear to me as these Honourable Mention songs come and go, it is how fortunate I am to know so many talented, kind and caring friends. Not all of my friends seem to be educators, of one form or another but, many are and today is no exception. I have known Nancy Martin for most of my teaching career and now, on into retirement. Nancy and I have never actually worked together but we swam in the same social circles and often attended the same professional development activities over the years. Hers was a familiar face that I was happy to see whenever we ended up somewhere together and now that I am retired, our paths still manage to cross on occasion; mostly via Social Media and that is ok, too. One of the things that has always stood out to me about Nancy, besides being a great teacher was that she was a nice person and someone who put great value on family. I try to be like that, too, which is why, I suppose, Nancy and I have stayed friends all these years.
Something else we share in common is our love of music. Nancy has chimed in, all throughout this countdown of ours, with comments, questions and shared stories. So, when I put out the call for Honourable Mention songs, I was happy to receive a prompt reply from her with her choice of “Soak Up The Sun” by Sheryl Crow. I was, also, not surprised that her rationale behind choosing the song was the warm memories that it carried with it for her of family vacations to sunny climes. So, let’s take a few minutes and explore the song, “Soak Up The Sun” and the career of Sheryl Crow and, while we do, let’s allow ourselves to feel the warmth of the sunshine on our skin. I think I feel happier already.
Sheryl Crow has had a very successful career. She has sold over 55 million albums worldwide and possesses several Gold and Platinum records. She has won seven Grammy Awards; most in the “Best Female Rock” category and has collaborated with some of the most famous singers of all-time such as, Stevie Nicks, Sarah McLaughlin, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and many more. Sheryl Crow has released a string of hits that include some of the most well-known songs from the 1990s and into the 2000s…..”Everyday is a Winding Road”, “If It Makes You Happy”, “Leaving Las Vegas”, “My Favourite Mistake”, “All I Wanna Do”, “Strong Enough” and many more. She released her first album at the age if 31, after spending her twenties gaining experience as a back up singer for the likes of Michael Jackson on his “Bad” tour, along with Joe Cocker, Jimmy Buffet, Belinda Carlisle and Stevie Wonder. Crow always considered herself as a singer-songwriter in the mold of a Carly Simon or Carole King and, as such, when she was touring as a back-up singer in the 1980s, it was a time of the singer-dancer, when the likes of Madonna, Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul were stars. Once that trend came and went, Sheryl Crow felt the time was right to try placing herself at the front of the stage. She released an album called “Tuesday Night Music Club”, which contained multiple hits and earned her five Grammy nominations including, “Best New Performer”, which she won. From there, Sheryl Crow has never looked back.
The song, “Soak Up The Sun” was from her fifth album called, “C’mon! C’mon!”. As Sheryl Crow songs go, there is a mild bit of controversy about it. That controversy revolves more around a dispute with her songwriter partner, Jeff Trott. Apparently, the idea for the song was Trott’s. The story goes that Sheryl Crow had just had surgery and was flying back to New York with Trott, who was taking care of her on this journey. Along the way, he made a remark about how it was funny that they were having to leave the west coast and fly to New York in order to “soak up the sun” because, I guess, it was rainy where they had been and hot where they were going. Anyway, because Crow was feeling down and out after her surgery, the pair came up with the idea for a song about having a positive attitude during the down times and appreciating what you have, even if you can’t have everything you want at any given moment. The song was written shortly after 9/11 had happened and both, Crow and Trott, felt like the song would be a good tonic for the nation’s down mood at that moment in time.
The controversy came when it came time to shoot the video for the song. As you can imagine, for many artists, their work is their Art and maintaining the integrity of their Art is of paramount importance. Well, unbeknownst to Trott, Sheryl Crow’s management had signed a sponsorship deal with the American Express Credit Card Company. As part of that deal, the video for “Soak Up The Sun” was to, also, be a commercial for American Express Traveller’s Cheques. So, Crow was flown to Hawaii and got to showcase her good looks and healthy body while hanging out at the beach, surfing and the like. It was a video that really cemented Crow’s place as one of the shiny people in the music business. For Trott, watching his partner make a four-minute commercial while promoting herself and her physical appearance, was a disappointing way for a song that he wrote and conceptualized to be brought to the attention of their fans. But, as is often the case, most fans didn’t mind at all. For many women, Sheryl Crow became a role model for what a healthy, beautiful woman should look and feel like. For many men, seeing a kick-ass singer flouncing around in a bikini on the beach was ok by them, too. And finally, for family-oriented people like my pal, Nancy, the song’s message of optimism and togetherness and sunny times with those you love, fuelled the soundtrack of their summer in a way that hadn’t really been done since the heyday of The Beach Boys. Overall, “Soak Up The Sun” was as much an attitude as it was a song. It is no wonder that it was so well received by so many divergent groups as it was when it was released in 2002.
So, thank you, Nancy Martin, for nominating such an uplifting song. I am happy that it holds so many happy family memories of family vacations with those you love most. Thanks, as well, for taking part in this musical countdown journey of ours. I appreciated all of your responses along the way. It made the experience of writing all these posts more interactive and thus, more interesting for me, personally. So, thanks, my friend.
As for everyone else, let’s quit with the chatter and get to watching the video for “Soak Up The Sun” by the lovely and talented, Sheryl Crow. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Soak Up The Sun” by Sheryl Crow, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Sheryl Crow, can be found here.