Albumism - As debut albums go, Counting Crows’ August and Everything After is a sterling example of what happens when good songs and expert production fuse in exactly the right place and time: a record that, twenty-five years down a long winding road of musical fads and fashion, is viewed as a strength of an era’s sonic landscape rather than a consequence of it.
Evolving from San Francisco Bay Area alt-rock outfit The Himalayans, lead singer Adam Duritz and guitarist and producer David Bryson initially formed the Counting Crows as a duo in 1991. “Dave Bryson and I were just going to open mikes at bars and playing acoustic,” Duritz recalled in a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone. “I don’t think I’d written ‘Mr. Jones’ yet. We had an acoustic version of ‘Round Here,’ the Himalayans’ song. And we’d just kill at these open mikes. I was in the Himalayans and I was singing backup for Sordid Humor, which was my favorite band. [Dave and I] got together for one more recording session and we each picked our favorite musicians. We’d opened for each other, we’d closed for each other, we’d all played in a million bands around each other. It was a really tight scene, San Francisco. There was so much music every night. And I was in three bands, so I knew everybody.”
You don’t have to be an industry savant to articulate what made lead single “Mr. Jones” a near-perfect choice to introduce the Crows to radio: it’s an indelible melodic yarn wrapped tightly around Duritz’s vivid imagery as raconteur. It’s simple and complex at the same time, using its straightforward jangle pulse as the concrete path for Duritz and his expressive vocal meandering, which abandons the balanced meter of typical pop mainlines for what comes closer to stream-of-consciousness riffing. Whatever descriptors you use to define its sound, it’s timeless.
Much of August and Everything After contends with Duritz and, in turn, his lyrical protagonists, searching for acceptance. In “Mr. Jones,” he tussles with seeking romantic affection despite his opposing self-image (“she's suddenly beautiful / we all want something beautiful / man, I wish I was beautiful”). On the set’s second single, the reflective ballad “Round Here,” he’s calculating risk on the precipice of making a significant life decision—in his specific case, committing himself to a career in music.
“Round Here” cemented the Crows’ cultural cachet in the United States, landing them appearances as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live and on The Late Show with David Letterman. It accurately captured the melancholic languor of becoming an adult—the realization that all those things that were so integral to your belief systems and ideals in your youth become less significant, or even invalid, as you get older. Which is why, to this day, when those familiar electric guitar picks begin during their live shows, “Round Here” still manages to tug on the heartstrings for most of us who are still experiencing those moments of collision between past and present.
Great album by a great 90s band. But let's get down to brass tacks here.
Everytime I hear a Counting Crows song the only thing that pops into my head is - how did peak Jennifer Aniston let Adam Duritz smash?
It might make me a psychopath that rather than wishing I knew my own personal Mr. Jones I think this instead when I hear it.
That when "Round Here" plays, (one of the worlds best sing-a-longs and karaoke songs ), instead of joining in the chorus or the part everyone stops singing and yells
Round here we're never sent to bed early and nobody makes us wait
Round here we stay up very, very, very, very late.
I'm deep in thought wondering what Jennifer Aniston saw in a guy who spent more time on his hair than she did.
Can only tip your cap to the guy.
Chicks obviously dig guys with guitars. And monster hogs. And money. And fame. And tons of other shallow shit. So it shouldn't really be that big of a surprise as Duritz had all of this in the 90s. (I can't verify the monster hog part but I'd assume so)
For a reminder, here is Duritz-
And as if you needed any reminder, here is Aniston…
Good for Duritz. Play on player.