The 1995 movie Leaving Las Vegas, starring Nic Cage and Elizabeth Shue, was based on a book written by John O’Brien. The movie scored Cage an Academy Award for Best Actor. The story, about a suicidal alcoholic, was semi-autobiographical. This would tragically bear out in real life, as O’Brien took his own life within weeks of signing away his novel’s rights.
Sheryl Crow’s 1993 song of the same name was also based on O’Brien’s book. Crow claims that the song was based on her own life. Her statements infuriated one of the song’s writers, David Baerwald, who was good friends with O’Brien. There are five credited writers for the song (the Tuesday Night Music Club of the album’s name), which included Crow and Baerwald. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
The music video featured flying Elvis Presley impersonators, showgirls, and a lonely highway. Crow is riding in the passenger seat of a car. And driving: Peter Berg, the director of such vaunted films as Battleship and Hancock.
While this was her first ever music video from her debut album, Crow wouldn’t become a mainstream hit until her next video, “All I Wanna Do.” But. man, “Leaving Las Vegas” was the reason Tuesday Night Music Club was the first CD that a young El Santo ever bought. Had you caught me in college, you might have seen me singing along, out of tune, despite never having been to Vegas. It was more about a disaffected state of mind. “Leaving Las Vegas” was moody, it was boozy, it was sexy, and it had a weird mostly black-and-white video that would be pretentious if it wasn’t kinda silly. I mean… it opens with a velvet painting of Wayne Newton. Or a mustachio’ed Elvis. They’re pretty much the same thing.