All I Wanna Do

Album: Tuesday Night Music Club (1993)
Charted: 4 2

Songfacts®:

  • The spark for this song was a poem titled "Fun." In the December 2006 issue of Blender magazine, Sheryl Crow explained how the song came together: "We were jamming in the studio, and I picked up this poem in a book - the first line was, 'All I wanna do is have some fun.' It encapsulated what was going on in LA, a real extreme feeling of apathy and defeat. It's masked in this light pop ditty, but it's about somebody down and out, sitting in a bar watching their life go by. I contacted the poet, Wyn Cooper, and he was really pleased. And the song was easy for me to sell because it was a character I could easily slip into. There was a lot of drinking going on in my life then, a lot of late-night bars. The song was a throwaway - it wasn't even going to be on the album. My little brother kept saying, 'This is a big hit.' And there really is a bar on Formosa across from a car wash. But I haven't ever spent a morning in a bar having a beer."
  • Tuesday Night Music Club was Crow's first album, released when she was 31. It took nearly a year for the album to catch on as Crow toured small theaters while she built an audience. She got a lot of exposure in 1994 when she opened for the Eagles on their reunion tour and played Woodstock II. "All I Wanna Do" was her breakthrough hit, reaching #2 in America on October 8, 1994, 14 months after the album was released.
  • This song reflects the laid-back Los Angeles lifestyle, but Crow grew up in a small Missouri town. She later moved to Los Angeles to pursue her music career.
  • The single is a remix, a little shorter and more radio-friendly than the album version.
  • The conversational singing style is similar to the 1973 hit by Stealer's Wheel, "Stuck In The Middle With You." Crow's producer Bill Bottrell explained to Q magazine in 1999: "Right away I thought Sheryl had an amazing voice and attitude. With Kevin, Baerwald and some other guys we developed a free-form writing and recording workshop around her. For the lyrics we evolved this collective storytelling, aimed at a sense of character that suited Sheryl. Conversation creates the best lyrics because it's plain spoken."

    This collective Bottrell spoke of was the "Tuesday Night Music Club," a weekly jam session between Crow and some other musicians from the LA area, including David Baerwald and Keving Gilbert. This is one of the songs that came out of those sessions, which was used as the title of the album.
  • Three singles from the album were released before this song: "Run, Baby, Run," "What I Can Do For You," and "Leaving Las Vegas." None of them did very well, but "Leaving Las Vegas" got some airplay and Crow was gradually building an audience. "All I Wanna Do" was not released until over a year after the album came out. When it did, it became Crow's first and biggest hit, and it established her as a star. The song got a great response at her live shows, which led the record company to finally release it as a single.
  • This won Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Crow thanked the members of the Tuesday Night Music Club in her speech, but many of them felt they were not given enough credit for her success.
  • This got a lot of airplay on Top 40 radio. After a while, stations edited out most of the vocal intro ("This ain't no disco..."), so it started with Crow saying "This is LA," and going right into the verse.
  • The line, "We were drinking beer at noon on Tuesday," reflects what the Tuesday Night Music Club did. They usually got together for drinks before trying to write songs.
  • Crow recorded an album before Tuesday Night Music Club, but she hated the way it sounded. She convinced her record company to scrap it and let her try again. This was the result.
  • This song also broke Sheryl Crow in the UK, where she mirrored her American triumphs. "All I Wanna Do" went to #4 in Britain in November 1994, a month after it hit #2 in America.
  • In the music video, Crow and her band perform outside of the Roxy Theater in Clarksville, Tennessee, while characters float overhead to watch them play. David Hogan, who was at the helm for Crow's debut clip "Leaving Las Vegas," returned as director.

    A longer version exists with True Blood actor Gregory Sporleder playing the role of Billy, who is mentioned throughout the song. Billy's shadow can still be seen in the edited version.
  • Crow's producer, Bill Bottrel, bought Wyn Cooper's poetry book The Country of Here Below in a Pasadena, California, used bookstore. Crow then adapted "Fun" into the lyrics for this song. The book only had an initial print run of 500 copies, but "All I Wanna Do" paved the way for multiple reprints and earned Cooper substantial royalties.

Comments: 11

  • Cj from Orange CountySomething bugged me about this song since release. I take issue with the sun coming up over Santa Monica boulevard. From which bar can you see sunrise over smblvd? Thought this while standing in the alleyway of one of the research bars.
  • Luke Lee from London, UkI remember late '94. I first heard this song on the radio. Talk about earworm! I think I drove my mates a bit nuts because I couldn't stop singing it. And this was when I was into the likes of Megadeth and Pantera.
  • Bill from Sacramento, CaThe poem "fun" by Wyn Cooper is based upon his personal relationship with the character in Crow's song. That's right, "Billy, Mac or Buddy" was a real person. Bill Ripley is called the "most unlikely muse" by another friend of his (and Wyn's). His signature line was "All I want do do is have a little fun before I die." The poem "Fun" was written after Wyn and Bill Ripley had spent an afternoon together in a Utah bar. But it's really about Bill and the kind of person he was. When you think about it, it really changes the meaning when you consider "Fun" was written by a man by another man, and not a rather sultry beauty like Sheryl Crow. But I would give David Rothman's explanation a good read, and some good thought. It will bring a whole new meaning to this song. Find it here: http://www.cprw.com/the-most-unlikely-muse-bill-ripley By the way, Wyn does receive royalties and has received enough, apparently, to retire.
  • Earl from Carlisle, PaI bought TNMC when it first came out for the song Run Baby Run. I totally hated All I Wanna Do at first. I could never get passed the "this ain't no disco" line. About a year later, during one of my daily hour and a half commutes to work, this song came on. It was one of those "where have I heard this song before?" moments. When I got home I dug out that year old CD and was surprised to find it was that "crappy disco" song I hated so much. Needless to say, it grew on me and is now one of the most played songs on my IPOD. Good times, great oldies.
  • John from Fort Worth, TxI remember when I first heard this song while driving to work one day ca 1993 or 1994 (today's date is Oct. 23, '07). To me, it had such a '70s sound and I loved it. I thought it had to be from that earlier era. I made a mental note to learn more about it and I was very surprised to learn that it had been only recently recorded. I didn't hear it again until a short time later when I listened to a 'dance music' tape and the song had been sped up, enhanced, etc. I still loved it in spite of all that and I was determined to hear the original, non-enhanced version again. To this day, I love the song and Sheryl Crow for having given me such an significant memory for my life experiences.
    John Martin, 46
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesAmy Studt scored a UK hit in 2004 with a cover version of this song
  • Jo-c from Lima, PeruGreat slide guitar!
  • Jo from Newcastle, AustraliaMatt's link don't work. This one does though, and yeah, she HAS "borrowed" the poet's words...
    http://ahsahtapress.boisestate.edu/books/cooper.htm
    Did he get any royalties or songwriting credit for this?
  • Dee from Salt Lake City, UtMs. Crow owes a huge debt of gratitude to Kevin Gilbert, her erstwhile boyfriend shortly before she shot to fame. He was the best dead artist you never heard of, but a brilliant musical genius just the same. I believe he produced a great part of her break-out album. And as with great creative genius input which is no longer available to the artist, no brilliant follow-ups have emerged from Ms. Crow. Check out Kevin Gilbert's groups, Toy Matinee, Giraffe. His rock Opera is an absolute genius recording that never got the recognition or fame it deserved!
  • Scott from St. Louis, MoThis song is like a 90's "Piano Man." Forgive me if this comment is "apropos of nothing."
  • Matt from Beverly Hills, CaThe lyrics for the song are closely based on the poem "Fun" by Wyn Cooper (available at http://english.boisestate.edu/mfa/oldahsahta/books/cooper.htm). Crow had written the music for the song but was unhappy with the accompanying lyrics. Her producer bought her ten random books of poetry and Crow adapted "Fun" to accompany the music. Cooper is listed as a co-writer and receives royalties from the song.
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