This bit of fortune cookie wisdom was written by Sheryl Crow along with her collaborators Jeff Trott and Brian MacLeod. The trio wasn't thrilled with it when they wrote the song, so they were happy to give it up for the 1996 film Phenomenon, starring John Travolta.
Once they started stripping it down at the request of the movie's music supervisor, something great began to emerge. Trott told Songfacts: "We realized by pulling back all that stuff that, wow there actually is a really good song in there, and it's just being covered with layer, upon layer, of instruments."
The song debuted in the movie, but didn't appear on the soundtrack. The film was released in July 1996 and the song was included on Crow's self-titled sophomore album, which was issued in September. Released as the second single, it made a slow climb up the charts, peaking in the US at #11 in April 1997.
Trott had the idea to swap out the original guitar bass for a fuzzy bass sound from a Moog Synthesizer. "I was just trying to get a sound on the Moog, and I started playing along with the song, but I wasn't playing the right bass line, like the original bass line. I was playing just something to get the sound. And [Sheryl's] like, 'Oh my, God. Jeffrey what are you playing? The groove's so hard. Wow. That is amazing.'
I ended up just playing this Moog bass line like any dummy could play it, but it just worked so great in the track."
Crowded House lead singer Neil Finn provided backing vocals. The Australian band's former drummer, Paul Hester, was the inspiration for the song. Crow explained before a Top of the Pops performance in 2003: "He inspired the song because he was so... he was such a character and so full of life, and it's basically about the search for the meaning of life."
Crow opened for Crowded House while promoting her first album and witnessed Hester's sudden departure from the band. He allegedly told his bandmate Finn: "Every Day is a Winding Road, mate, it's time for me to veer off..."
The lyrics, "He's got a daughter he calls Easter, she was born on a Tuesday Night," reference Hester's daughter, Sunday, and Crow's debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club.
Crow elaborated on the song's theme in an interview with CMT: "'Everyday is a Winding Road' started out as kind of a road song, and it really wound up being about being in the moment and not always looking to the next moment and analyzing things. As I look at this record, stepping away from it, I realize thematically a lot of it is about levity, finding levity in life and balance and trying to figure out how to make all things work simultaneously without grand disruption. That's kind of what the song is about. It's about jumping in a truck with a guy who just lives life every minute, by the minute. Every once in a while, I have to catch myself and remind myself that life is right now. It's not two minutes from now."
This was nominated for Record of the Year at the 1998 Grammy Awards, but it lost to Shawn Colvin's "Sunny Came Home."
This was also featured in the 2000 biographical drama Erin Brockovich, starring Julia Roberts.
Prince covered this on his 1999 album, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic.