Monday, August 30, 1993

Nirvana “Heart-Shaped Box” released

Heart-Shaped Box


Writer(s): Kurt Cobain (see lyrics here)

Released: August 30, 1993

First Charted: September 11, 1993

Peak: 4 AR, 13 MR, 5 UK, 17 CN, 21 AU, 3 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.6 UK, 0.65 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 306.82 video, 687.75 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Nirvana’s second album, 1991’s Nevermind, sent them into the stratosphere. It was a #1 album that has sold more than 30 million copies, fueled by the highest-ranked song of the 1990s, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” It not only cemented the band’s legacy as the quintessential grunge band, but one of the most important bands of the ‘90s. It also made singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain into the reluctant voice of a generation.

That’s a helluva lot of expectations to heap on a follow-up album, but In Utero didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t Nevermind – there was no way it could be – but it was still a successful, widely-acclaimed effort. While the lead single, “Heart-Shaped Box,” didn’t even dent the Billboard Hot 100, it was actually more successful than “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on the album rock and alternative rock charts.

Cobain claimed the song was “inspired by a television report of children suffering from cancer.” SF It can also be interpreted as a reference to a uterus since “the lyrics talk about…an aborted fetus from the first-person viewpoint.” SF However, it was widely assumed it was about his volatile relationship with his wife, Courtney Love. She sent him a heart-shaped box after their second meeting and lyrics in the song reference an unstable romantic relationship. SF

Writer Toby Creswell says, “There’s not doubt that he loved her and that she gave him something he needed. But it’s also clear that he regarded the volatile relationship as a co-dependency.” TC The song expresses a “feeling of entrapment” TC and Cobain definitely felt trapped by “addiction, his fame, his desire for fame, and his marriage.” TC


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First posted 2/19/2024; last updated 4/14/2024.

Tuesday, August 10, 1993

Billy Joel’s River of Dreams released

First posted 5/9/2011; updated 9/22/2020.

River of Dreams

Billy Joel

Released: August 10, 1993

Peak: 13 US, 3 UK, 6 CN, 14 AU

Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 0.3 UK, 10.1 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: pop/rock singer-songwriter


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. No Man’s Land (8/7/93, 18 AR, 50 CN, 71 CN)
  2. The Great Wall of China
  3. Blonde Over Blue
  4. A Minor Variation
  5. Shades of Grey
  6. All About Soul (11/6/93, 29 US, 6 AC, 32 UK, 9 CN, 34 AU)
  7. Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) (3/26/94, 77 US, 18 AC, 27 CN)
  8. The River of Dreams (7/19/93, 3 US, 1 AC, 3 UK, 2 CN, 1 AU)
  9. Two Thousand Years
  10. Famous Last Words

Total Running Time: 49:10


3.186 out of 5.00 (average of 12 ratings)

About the Album:

“Billy Joel had never taken as much time to record an album as he did with River of Dreams, and its troubled birth is clear upon the first listen.” AMG “His marriage in peril – he and Brinkley would divorce the following year – Joel sounded, not surprisingly, cranky and disillusioned on his final pop album.” DB

“Out of the strife came a few highs (the doo-wop world beat of the title track and the rocking swipe at consumerist culture, No Man’s Land), along with plenty of grating lows (way too much white-soul grunting).” DB “Never before had he recorded an album that sounded so labored, as if it was a struggle for him to write and record the songs.” AMG

He “surrounded himself with ace studio musicians and star producer Danny Kortchmar, all of whom have the effect of deadening an already self-consciously serious set of songs. There are no light moments on the album, either lyrically or musically -- all the songs are filled with middle-age dread, even the two best moments, the gospel-inflected ‘title track’ and his song to his daughter, Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel). Those two songs have the strongest melodies, but they’re not as natural as his best material.” AMG

“Everywhere he tries too hard – the metaphors of The Great Wall of China, the bizarre vocal intro to Shades of Grey, minor-key melodies all over the place. He may be trying different things, but he doesn’t sound comfortable with his detours, and by the end of the record, he sounds as exhausted as the listener feels. By that point, the closing track, Famous Last Words, seems prophetic – River of Dreams feels like a sad close to an otherwise strong career…It’s an unworthy way to depart.” AMG

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Saturday, August 7, 1993

Pearl Jam “Crazy Mary” charted

Crazy Mary

Pearl Jam with Victoria Williams

Writer(s): Victoria Williams (see lyrics here)

First Charted: August 7, 1993

Peak: 26 AR, 8 MR, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 7.6 video, 0.21 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Folk-rock singer/songwriter Victoria Williams was born in 1958 in Shreveport, Louisiana. She released her first album, Happy Come Home in 1987 and its follow-up, Swing the Statue! three years later. In 1992, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Because she didn’t have health insurance, a collection of artists recorded her songs for a benefit album called Sweet Relief.

While Victoria Williams wasn’t a household name, many of the artists on the album were. Amongst them were Evan Dando, the Jayhawks, Maria McKee, Pearl Jam, Michael Penn, Lou Reed, Soul Asylum, Matthew Sweet, and Lucinda Williams. All of the songs except two had been recorded by Victoria on her first two albums.

One of them was “Crazy Mary.” Victoria Williams wrote the song about an old black woman – referred to in the song as “a wild-eyed woman who lives in a tar paper shack” – who walked around Shreveport, refusing to get inside a moving car. She was killed when an out-of-control car crashed into her shack. SF

It was one of two songs featured on Sweet Relief that had not been previously released on one of Williams’ first two albums. She put the song out in 1994 on her third album, Loose, but it was recorded first by Pearl Jam (with Victoria on backing vocals) for the Sweet Relief project. Their version was a top-10 modern rock track and reached the album rock chart as well.

Pearl Jam had only released one album, 1991’s Ten, but it had established them as one of the biggest acts in the world. It became a cornerstone of grunge and would be certified for 13 million in sales.


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First posted 3/15/2023.

Tuesday, August 3, 1993

Sheryl Crow’s Tuesday Night Music Club released

Tuesday Night Music Club

Sheryl Crow

Released: August 3, 1993

Peak: 3 US, 8 UK, 5 CN, 12 AU

Sales (in millions): 7.6 US, 0.6 UK, 12.9 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: mainstream rock


Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Run, Baby, Run [4:53] (8/3/93, 24 UK, 86 CN)
  2. Leaving Las Vegas [5:10] (2/12/94, 60 US, 8 MR, 66 UK, 29 CN)
  3. Strong Enough [3:10] (11/14/94, 2a US, 33 UK, 10 MR, 11 AC, 33 UK, 1 CN, 3 AU)
  4. Can’t Cry Anymore [3:41] (7/8/95, 30a US, 38 MR, 22 AC, 33 UK, 3 CN, 41 AU)
  5. Solidify [4:08]
  6. The Na-Na Song [3:12]
  7. No One Said It Would Be Easy [5:29]
  8. What I Can Do for You [4:15] (11/11/95, 43 UK)
  9. All I Wanna Do [4:32] (7/23/94, 2 US, 35 AR, 4 MR, 1 AC, 4 UK, 1 CN, 1 AU, gold single)
  10. We Do What We Can [5:38]
  11. I Shall Believe [5:34]

Writing credits: David Baerwald (1-3, 5-6,8-9), Bill Bottrell (1-7, 9-11), Wyn Cooper (9), Sheryl Crow (1-11), Kevin Gilbert (2-3,5-7,9-10), Kevin Hunter (5), Brian MacLeod (3,5-6), David Ricketts (2-3,5-6), Dan Schwartz (7,10).

Total Running Time: 49:42

The Players:

  • Sheryl Crow (vocals, guitar, piano)
  • David Baerwald (guitar)
  • Bill Bottrell (guitar, pedal steel)
  • Kevin Gilbert (keyboards, guitar, drums)
  • David Ricketts (bass)
  • Dan Schwartz (bass, guitar)
  • Brian MacLeod (drums)


3.751 out of 5.00 (average of 15 ratings)

Quotable: “A peak of mainstream pop-rock” – Rickey Wright,

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

It is difficult to review this album honestly because of “the controversy that dogged this album once it succeeded.” JW Crow’s involvement with the collective of musicians who helped her craft their namesake album went sour when they perceived her as taking more credit than was due.

After “gigging as a backing vocalist for everyone from Don Henley to Michael Jackson,” STE Crow’s first attempt at recording her own album resulted in “a slick set of contemporary pop, relying heavily on ballads. Upon hearing the completed album, Crow convinced A&M not to release the album.” STE Then-boyfriend Kevin Gilbert and producer Bill Bottrell tried to salvage the album, but eventually aborted it.

Gilbert, however, introduced her to the Tuesday Night Music Club, a group of “Los Angeles-based songwriters and producers, including David Baerwald, David Ricketts, and Brian McLeod.” STE The loose collective “would get together, drink beer, jam, and write songs.” STE

Crow “decided to craft her debut album around the songs and spirit of the collective. It was, for the most part, an inspired idea, since Tuesday Night Music Club has a loose, ramshackle charm that her unreleased debut lacked.” STE

“With her gruff, edgy delivery and sweet, seductive timbre, singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow evokes comparisons to tough yet tender blues-rockers like Bonnie Raitt. But Sheryl Crow is too talented to be plugged into any one stylistic bag. Tuesday Night Music Club is a striking debut recording, teeming with the kind of musical curiosity all too rare in contemporary pop.” CDU

“While the songs all feature Crow on lead vocals and were all co-composed by her, the reality is she was part of a collective, yet only she got the record contract and therefore, the bulk of the credit for the resulting effort.” JW

“The opening quartet of [songs] are remarkable testaments to their collaboration, proving that roots rock can sound contemporary and have humor” STE while exhibiting “remarkable storytelling skills.” CDU That same spirit, however, also resulted in some half-finished songs…Still, even with the weaker moments,” STE “Crow and [Co. usually] strike just the right tone” RW and “Crow manages to create an identity for herself – a classic rocker at heart but with enough smarts to stay contemporary.” STE

The TNMCers’ “playing is typically on the mark, loose and limber…But the group has a weakness for mid-tempo arrangements that don't always do justice to Crow's range; her later efforts branch out more into harder rock and slower, more intense ballads, to good effect.” JW

The album kicks off with “the Beatles overtones of her freedom cry Run, Baby, Run.” CDU By just “the second line of this album [which] references the day Aldous Huxley died – it's obvious this is going to be a musical horse of a different color.” JW Of course, that same line also demonstrates how the album “occasionally reaches too far in attempting Significance.” RW Nonetheless, the “Retro Hammond organ, slinky blues licks, nicely synchopated piano and Crow's keening vocals propel the steady-building ‘Run, Baby, Run.’ Some soaring slide work on the break and Crow's quirky lyrics embellish the song's classic verse-chorus-verse structure into something special.” JW

“Crow has a gift for taking familiar song structures that fit like a comfortable shoe and imbuing them with fresh twists. On the otherwise Joplinesque blues grind Leaving Las Vegas, it’s the way the muted electronic drums and laconic bass line counterpoint the chorus of background vocals surrounding Crow's impassioned lead voice.” JW The song “mixes…metaphors to equate relationships to games of chance, tolling themes of duty and resignation.” CDU

Those two songs were both released as singles. The former was a minor UK hit and the latter a top-10 alternative rock hit in the U.S. The album really, broke, however, upon the release of third single All I Wanna Do. While “somewhat lightweight and widely misunderstood,” JW “the deceptively infectious” STE song “put this otherwise rather unassuming album on the map” JW first as a #2 pop hit and then as a Grammy-winner for Record of the Year. The “’Stuck in the Middle with You’ homage” RW “was slotted number nine in the run order for a reason…it's a relative throwaway of a song – a slacker fantasia set to vibes, percussion, slide guitar and a simple, endlessly repeating bass figure – that was never intended to characterize this album.” JW It “might not be Hall of Fame material, but it was good enough to launch a career.” JW

After the success of that song, Crow followed up with another top-5 U.S. hit with the balld Strong Enough, “a mostly-acoustic tune that strongly recalls Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac.” DBW The album pulled off one more top-40 hit in the U.S. with Can’t Cry Anymore. The song’s “clanking guitar riff” RW makes for an irrestible “pulsing rhythm.” JW

Elsewhere on the album, Crow “seems to want to channel Sly & the Family Stone” JW with Solidify, “but the style just doesn’t suit Crow at all.” JW She does better with “the funky threat of What I Can Do for You,” RW even if “the chirpy background vocals (‘you – you’) grate” JW and “her speak-singing on the verses…doesn’t come off well.” JW

The “surreal” CDUNa-Na Song offers a “pure delirious rush of…chanted free-association lyrics,” JW although it can come across as “an embarrassing stream-of-consciousness ripoff of John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace a Chance.’” DBW

Crow invests an “emotional charge” JW on the “touching” CDUNo One Said It Would Be Easy, “a song about trying to salvage a troubled relationship” JW Backed by a “dreamy lead guitar,” JW “Sheryl Crow brings a post-modern country sensibility to bear.” CDU

Next up is “the jazzy We Do What We CanCDU followed by the “sweet pedal-steel inflected gospel of I Shall Believe,” CDU “a strong cut that shows off Crow's burgeoning skills as a composer and singer of moving, contemplative ballads.” JW

“Overall, Tuesday Night Music Club is an occasionally spotty but generally solid debut” JW that is “a peak of mainstream pop-rock.” RW “That’s the lasting impression Tuesday Night Music Club leaves.” STE

Notes: The deluxe edition included a second disc of previously unreleased tracks (“Coffee Shop,” “Killer Life,” “Essential Trip of Hereness,” “You Want More”), B-sides (“Reach Around Jerk,” “Volvo Cowgirl 99,” “All by Myself,” “On the Outside,” “D’yer Mak’er”), and a new remix of “I Shall Believe.”

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First posted 2/15/2008; last updated 8/21/2021.