Wednesday, June 16, 2010

August & Everything After.

I wanted the ocean to cover over me
I wanna sink slowly without getting wet
And maybe someday I won't be so lonely
And I'll walk on water every chance I get.

What I have to say about Counting Crows really cannot be confined to one post, and when I think about the album that really made my angsty teenage heart burst into pieces it'd be Recovering the Satellites but I'm not ready to go there yet; we have to start at the beginning, with August & Everything After. Holy crap, okay, where do I begin. This may seem silly, and in honesty I think these days Adam Duritz is somewhat of an asshat, and even though I continued to buy them, the albums after these two don't mean much to me with the exception of one or two gems here and there--like Up All Night on 2002's exceptionally mediocre Hard Candy, holy crap is Up All Night one of my favorite songs ever--but trying to describe the impact of these two albums on my psyche when I was growing up almost seems overwhelming. It seems melodramatic but that's the whole point; everything about the inside of my head and heart was melodramatic at the time, and Adam Duritz's lyrics fit perfectly in tune with me, they seemed beautiful and poetic and wonderful and yes yes yes, everything I wanted, he was singing to me, me, me!

This album is full of terrifically depressing tunes. Let's start with Round Here. Holy crap, this was the FIRST SINGLE off of this album. This makes no sense. This song is depressing as hell. But it was popular! Played on the radio a lot! 1990's, I miss you. I am fully convinced this song could never be on the radio today. This also starts off the album, and includes some of the most brilliant lyrics of the whole thing. Such as: And in between the moon and you, the angels get a better view of the crumbling difference between wrong and right. Oh man. Swoon. That is good stuff. I have no idea what it means, it just sounds so pretty. Also, although not completely related since it is technically a different album, I later also became enamored with a TEN MINUTE version of Round Here included on their 1998 live album Across a Wire. The last five minutes or so of this version is Duritz rambling on somewhat like a crazy person, which of course I eat right up, but it includes some lyrical adjustments and additions to the song which seem particularly angry and desperate. My favorites go like so:

She said did you think that you were dreaming? I said no.
She said did you think that you were dreaming? I said no.
She said did you think that you were dreaming? I said, sometimes, I don't know.

She says, can't you see me? Can't you see my walls tumbling down, can't you see my walls crumbling down, and can't you see my sun stopped spinning 'round, and can't you see that sky turn black and brown, and can't you see that moon go flashing 'round, and can't you see me? And can't you see me? And can't you see me? No.

She says, I'm sick and tired of life, well, EVERYBODY'S SICK AND TIRED OF SOMETHING.

Ayiyi, the agony, the drama! I love you so much!

Past Round Here, the truly truly depressing tunes include Perfect Blue Buildings, Ghost Train, and Raining in Baltimore. The latter is pretty much four minutes of Duritz moaning that he needs a rain coat. And Ghost Train includes the super cheery refrain, Love is a ghost train rumbling through the darkness; love is a ghost train howling on the radio. Thanks for the optimism, dude.

And then. And then and then and then. There is Anna Begins. This is one of those songs one becomes possessive of, that surpasses all others; this song wrapped itself around the hearts of many other struggling teenage girls I knew. You try to tell yourself the things you try to tell yourself to make yourself forget. It is just lovely, I think, full of sorrow and little hints of anger at this Anna person, but then the chorus is somewhat light, airy, buoyant with acceptance and a little bit of hope and letting go. She's talking in her sleep, it's keeping me awake, and Anna begins to toss and turn. And every word is nonsense, but I understand, and oh Lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing. And on my CD player I'd hit repeat, repeat, repeat.

And amidst all this heaviness, this yearning and this loneliness that coats so much of this album, there are the rays of sunshine: Mr. Jones, Rain King, and A Murder of One. Mr. Jones, is, of course, really a song about being lonely too, but it still has the capability of feeling good to belt out drunkenly at karaoke, and that playful chorus, and so it has that going for it. What a good, solid pop hit; I'll never get sick of it. Rain King, alternately, really might be the only truly happy song on the album, where it sounds joyous and the lyrics are actually joyous too. I belong anywhere but in between: there is no better mantra for the teenager, the one who feels in between pretty much all the time. 'Cause I've been here before and I deserve a little more. Yes, yes, yes, I do, I do.

It must be clear by now that I take the music I listened to when I was in middle school & high school rather seriously. But it's because I never took music more seriously than I did then; I would literally lay in my room and do nothing but listen to these CD's over and over and over, and I want to verbalize why that's so important. It's on the tip of my tongue to say they helped me find myself or discover who I was or some typical hoo-ha like that, and normally I wouldn't be opposed to spewing typical hoo-ha like that, but I don't think the person I discovered when I was 16 is necessarily the person I am. Which may be an obvious point, but still. I over-sentimentalize that period of my life because I always think I knew myself so well, but I know myself much better than I ever did then. I think I was just able to sink into myself more then. Laying on my bed, doing nothing but listening to music for hours: I don't do that now because I don't have the time. Even if I did have the time, I'd have so much other stuff to think about running through my head that I'd probably just end up stressed out that I was wasting time I could be productive. My point is, I feel so strongly about this music because I needed it at the time, because it allowed me to be so deeply and pointedly selfish. I don't listen to this music much anymore, but when I hear a song or an album every now and then I feel grateful because just a little bit, by just a few inches, the real world recedes a bit and I'm comforted by reclining a bit inside of myself again, secure in my good, old, melodramatic heart.

1 comment:

  1. Yes. Love this album, and all other albums I listened to alone in my room in the 90s. I agree that today's music lacks that beautiful angsty melancholy--it just doesn't have the same SOUL.