Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, California

All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow

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We are drinkin' beer at noon on Tuesday
In a bar that faces a giant car wash Read full Lyrics
Sheryl Crow opens "All I Wanna Do" by telling us, "This is L.A." And then she does just that - she sings L.A.! That's it, it's essence-of-L.A., distilled and bottled on the shelf to take with you wherever you go.

You could take it to outer space and whenever you get homesick, just take off the cap and inhale and you'll smell the smog burning your sinuses and see the orange-purple sunsets and the lines of identical palm trees and hear the endless racket of traffic and watch the people who dress nice, live in McMansions, drive shiny, well-scrubbed cars, and sit around in paradise bored out of their minds most of the time.

Nobody captures the soul of a city like Sheryl Crow. This song was released for airplay a full year after the album came out, when, in 1993, Crow was teetering on the edge of obscurity, sort-of famous but not really having a solid hit. It went on to chart in the US as #2 and the UK as #4, plus sweeping the 1995 Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, as well as being nominated for Song of the Year.

Santa Monica Boulevard and Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles<br>Photo: Alkan2011, DreamstimeSanta Monica Boulevard and Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles
Photo: Alkan2011, Dreamstime
And to think that she was just going to throw this one away! In her 2006 interview for Blender magazine, Crow described "All I Wanna Do" as being a throwaway that she wasn't even going to put on the album, until her little brother convinced her to include it, telling her that this was the hit. This is often the case; ask any creative artist and they'll tell you that the most popular work is frequently the stuff you just doodle out in ten minutes because you were playing around.

All kinds of interesting trivia surrounds the song. The line "This ain't no disco" is a shout-out to the Talking Heads' "Life During Wartime." The lyrics are actually adapted from the poem "Fun" by Wyn Cooper, which appeared in the book The Country of Here Below. Cooper got royalties from the song. The song's basic structure is often compared to "Stuck In The Middle With You" by Stealers Wheel - try singing the words of one to the melody of the other and you'll see why.

The street in the song is Santa Monica Boulevard, which, as any Angeleno can tell you, is a quintessentially Angeline street. It's business, it's pleasure, there's even a little dash of residence along the way. Now, picking out the exact bar and car wash of the song is another matter. Rumors abound, but none can be authenticated any more than any other rumor. L.A. is a city with, seemingly, a car wash and a bar on every block. Sometimes it seems like half of the citizens must live in a car wash and work at a bar, or the other way around. So it's a dead certainty that there is more than one bar across from a car wash on Santa Monica Boulevard.

You'll have to ask "Billy." If you can find him, that is. That's going to be hard, because the actor playing him was deleted from the final cut of the video, leaving only his shadow creeping along the wall in one scene. If you can't figure it out, that's because songs like this, like "a good beer buzz early in the morning," aren't meant to be thought about too hard.

Pete Trbovich
March 18, 2010
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Comments: 5

  • William Dandurand from Santa Clarita I was there the song was written about Al Mowry he was at the Bar with Sheryl he was drinking Budweiser bottles we all were. Al Mowry told Sheryl if you peal the label you get free case. He dropped a couple of beers that didn’t break and did spin on the floor he was playing with match sticks trying to see how long he could hold the match. The bar tender had a white tank top reading want adds older couple walked in holding hands. He didn’t want to tell her his name said mine Mac is someone I worked for everything in song happened I watched it was Sheryl Crow she never Called Al Mowry. Me and his brother played pool it was after the race at Long Beach. Check the Facts There were a total of 7 people in the bar after the old couple with grey hair walked in True Story. Joe Mowry William Dandurand and Al Mowry who was hitting on her he did all that stuff no bull
  • Voytek from ToruńI love this song and I fell in love with Sheryl
  • Hugh Mcquillan from Scotland Clydebank GlasgowWho sang Santa Monica back in the 80 s
  • John Thompson from LaI think about this every morning, the beer buzz, which is getting me by. And I like the song and the groove it lays down. Thanks.
  • Ndugu from Hartford, CtSheryl captures what the locals know about the real L.A. in this song.
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