JUST ANOTHER GAL FROM CASPER: WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW EDITION…
Pretty sure we all have that one (or, if you’re lucky, more than one) album you’ve gotta jam with on every road trip you take. For me, it’s Counting Crows’ August and Everything After. I have a CD player in my jeep, and the cover of the copy I keep with me (yup, I have a car copy and a home copy) is faded from years of exposure to the elements. Each song on its own is well worth a listen, and the album as a whole is damn near flawless.
Released in 1993, it’s one of those rare collections of tunes that hits from first note to last. It’s your basic guitar/drums/keyboards/bass/vocals ingredients (with a pinch of accordion and organ sprinkled in for seasoning) and, like the best recipes, you get some bangin’ results when you know how to mix ‘em. (Ha! Me, who hates any kind of food prep, using a baking comparison!)
Lead singer Adam Duritz’s pensive-bordering-on-wistful voice is part of what makes this group so compelling. He has a way of matching his tone with the lyrics, steeping every song in emotion.
The album starts off with “Round Here,” and the image-filled words
Step out the front door like a ghost
Into the fog where no one notices
The contrast of white on white
In between the moon and you
The angels get a better view
Of the crumbling difference between wrong and right
Three tracks in, we’re introduced to the Crows’ breakout single “Mr. Jones.” This one’s good; however, my sister and I both feel it’s the least interesting of the bunch. Still, when your least favorite song is this strong, you know the entire collection’s gotta be worth a listen.
By the time we hit “Rain King,” I’m singing harmony with the chorus like I’m auditioning for American Idol: (Geriatric Edition)…
And I belong in the service of the queen
And I belong anywhere but in between
She’s been crying and I’ve been thinking
And I am the rain king…
And that brings us to my favorite Crows song — “Sullivan Street.” Even though the lyrics are melancholy, the song’s vibe (for me, anyway) is a laid-back, feel-good, peaceful one. I’ve always pictured someone wandering through a quaint downtown with cobblestone streets just after a summer rain, peeking into store windows with their hands in their pockets…which is in no way related to the lyrics, but there you go — a bit of a peek into Kate’s Head…
Nearing the end, the mournful “Raining in Baltimore” is another favorite Crows song of mine, in all its gloomy glory…
This circus is falling down on its knees
The big top is crumbling down
It’s raining in Baltimore, fifteen miles east
Where you should be, no one’s around
I’ve never heard a Counting Crows collection that I didn’t like, but for me, they’ll never top August and Everything After. Listen to all of their music on places like YouTube, Spotify or Amazon Music, or score a copy on disc for car rides or nostalgia.