It only takes 3:49 for Sheryl Crow to plow through her cover of “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” a song I swear used to last a good half hour when it came on the radio in ’88. She recorded it for the soundtrack to Big Daddy, the not-quite-as-funny-as?Billy Madison current Adam Sandler vehicle about–get this–an obnoxious oaf who sings in a funny voice and has women issues, a bunch o’ money in the bank, and difficulty moving on to the next stage of life. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it, Axl fans? And so does the song, in a twangy, countrified sort of way. Of course, Sheryl pulls the old pronoun switcheroo, which makes sense for a film where the sweet child is actually a kid, but feels just a tad creepy when she gets to the “hair reminds me of a warm safe place” line–if only because that always struck me less as a visual image than a tactile (even olfactory) one, involving more than just the little tousle you’d give to a little boy’s head. Unless you were, say, Mary K. Laterno.
But Crow does commit one unforgivable crime against nature by leaving out Slash’s big anthemic guitar hook, as much a signature of the song as that goofy little snake-charmer dance Axl used to do. And even a guy as unrock as Dean Wareham, of New York indie supergroup Luna, knows not to jettison that. He gets rid of the funky “Where do we go?” portion, perhaps because upon close examination those lyrics have nothing to do with the rest of the song (Axl just needed something to sing there). Besides, Dean doesn’t do funky. It still takes Luna 4:25 to plod through “Sweet Child,” which is truer to the original half hour. And the unabashedly wimpy result reminds me of a warm safe cover of Van Halen’s “Jump” that Aztec Camera pulled off back before Axl welcomed us to the jungle, because it works both as an obvious joke and an unlikely homage. Too bad Elektra dropped Luna and shelved the album, though I’m sure you can probably find it somewhere.com. And shame on Sheryl for stealing Dean’s quiet thunder.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 24, 1999