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Well I dreamt I saw you walking up a hillside in the snowSeven for a secret never to be told
Casting shadows on the winter sky as you stood there counting crows
One for sorrow, two for joy
Three for girls and four for boys
Five for silver, six for gold
—"A Murder of One", August and Everything After
Counting Crows is an alternative rock band from Berkeley, California. They gained popularity in the mid-nineties for their debut album, August and Everything After. The band takes its name from the divination rhyme about crows, which also appears in the song "A Murder of One," quoted above. The group is fronted by and essentially is singer-songwriter Adam Duritz, a "Russian-Jew-American impersonating African-Jamaican" whose lyrics are largely inspired by his personal relationships, life, and chronic dissociative disorder.
Their music can be best described as a harmonious blending of alternative rock and country rock.
Music by Counting Crows has been featured on the soundtracks of Clueless, Mr. Deeds , Cruel Intentions, Two Weeks Notice, and Shrek 2. "Accidentally in Love" from Shrek 2 was nominated for the Best Original Song Oscar in 2005 and played at the Oscar ceremony.
The band is unusual in that it actively encourages the recording of its concerts and the distribution of the resulting bootleg recordings. The band hosts a trading network on its website to enable fans to swap concert recordings. Fans can also visit an unofficial torrent site, Crowstown, which offers video and audio bootlegs for free.
- Adam Duritz (Vocals, piano, primary songwriter)
- David Bryson (guitar)
- Dan Vickrey (guitar)
- David Immergluck (guitar, mandolin, pedal steel guitar, slide guitar)
- Charlie Gillingham (keyboards, accordion)
- Jim Bogios (drums)
- Millard Powers (bass guitar, upright bass, piano, vocals)
- August and Everything After (1993)
- Recovering The Satellites (1995)
- Across a Wire: Live in New York City (2-disc collection of live performances recorded for MTV and VH1) (1998)
- This Desert Life (2000)
- Hard Candy (2002)
- New Amsterdam: Live at Heineken Music Hall (2006)
- Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings (2008)
- Live from SoHo (an iTunes exclusive album, 2008)
- August and Everything After - Live at Town Hall (recorded 2007, released 2011)
- Underwater Sunshine an album of covers (2012)
Songs, albums, and performances by Counting Crows feature the following tropes:
- Anti-Love Song: About half of them, most notably "American Girls", "Anna Begins", "Anyone But You" and "Butterfly In Reverse".
- Album Title Drop:
- This Desert Life is named for a line in the song "High Life."
- Films About Ghosts is named for a line in "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby."
- Also related, the above mentioned band name drop in "A Murder Of One."
- Artist Disillusionment: Recovering The Satellites has this as a theme, with "Have You Seen Me Lately" and "Monkey" being particularly good examples. The Across a Wire version of "Mr. Jones" also has strong elements of this.
- Breakaway Pop Hit: "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Accidentally In Love".
- Break Up Song: "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby", among others.
- Captain Obvious / Shaped Like Itself: From "Le Ballet D'Or"
"I would be lying if I didn't tell you the truth"
- The Cover Changes the Gender: The cover of "Big Yellow Taxi" turns "a big yellow taxi took away my old man" to "a big yellow taxi took my girl away."
- Concept Album: Saturday Nights And Sunday Mornings, divided into two sides on the precept that "On Saturday night, you sin; on Sunday morning, you repent".
- Creator Breakdown: "Have You Seen Me Lately", and subsequent performances of "Mr. Jones". Duritz' best work seems to come from traumatic and/or depressing events.]
- Part of the reason for the six-year gap between Hard Candy and Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings was that Duritz was, at points, too depressed to leave his house.
- Dark Reprise: The original recording of "Mr. Jones" is a song about wanting to be famous. The version featured on Across a Wire is about why you shouldn't want to be famous.
- Darker and Edgier: August and Everything After was a sweetly melodic, very subdued folk album. Their second, Recovering the Satellites, added distorted guitar, angry lyrics, and several swear words.
- Either or Title: The full title of Underwater Sunshine is Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation).
- Epic Rocking: "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby", at over seven-and-a-half minutes long.
- Flyover Country: "Omaha, somewhere in middle America..."
- A Good Name for a Rock Band: Apparently, one band thought this about "Between the Buried and Me."
- Greatest Hits Album: Films About Ghosts.
- Hidden Track: They are fond of putting hidden tracks on their albums, usually by placing a long period of silence after the last song followed by the hidden one. This means that the track won't show up as an option when viewing the tracks on the CD — the only way to hear it is to wait through or fast forward through the silent portion of the last track.
- I Am the Band / Face of the Band: Most people only know Adam Duritz by name. This is because he writes almost all the songs, is literally the voice/sound of the band, and is extremely charismatic. The band simply wouldn't exist without him.
- Incredibly Long Note: In "Sullivan Street".
- Ironic Nursery Tune: In "A Murder Of One" with the "One for Sorrow, Two For Joy" rhyme used in a song about an abusive partner, and then later in "I'm Not Sleeping" we get "I said rain rain go away\ Come again some other day,\ Cause I got all this shit to say\ But I've gone back to find my way", which is very powerful in context.
- Los Angeles: "Goodnight LA" and "Come Around".
- Lyrical Dissonance: Adam Duritz is pretty much the master of upbeat, poppy rock songs about emotional detachment and despair.
- "American Girls" is a sparkly, upbeat pop song -- about realizing your lover is insane yet being unable to leave them.
- "Einstein on the Beach (For an Eggman)" is similarly upbeat and cheerful-sounding, but it's about Albert Einstein's guilt of being involved in the design of nuclear weapons.
- "If I Could Give All My Love (Richard Manuel Is Dead)" is another upbeat pop-rock song... about the singer realizing that his childhood idols are dying one by one and that he's unable to connect emotionally with the women in his life.
- And then there's "You Can't Count On Me", where the singer is almost joyful to finally realize that the women in his life are nothing but playthings he can toss aside when he's bored with them.
- One for Sorrow, Two For Joy: The name of the band and lyrics in "A Murder of One."
- One of Us: Charles Gillingham edits Wikipedia.
- Perishing Alt Rock Voice: Just listen to Round Here.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: "A Long December" is about Duritz's breakup with Courtney Cox, and "Come Around" is partly about his leaving California and moving to New York.
- Rockstar Song:
- "Have You Seen Me Lately?"
- And more recently "Los Angeles"
So if you see that movie star and me
If you should see my picture in a magazine
Or if you fall asleep by the bedroom TV
Honey, I'm just trying to make some sense out of me.
- Running Gag:
- Well, less of a gag than a theme; during live performances, the band tends to work sections of "A Murder of One" into their other songs. It helps that they tend towards jamming while performing live.
- They also name drop a woman named "Maria" in several of their songs, such as "Mr. Jones", "Round Here", and the unrecorded "August and Everything After". Lampshaded in Mrs. Potter's Lullabye:
There's a piece of Maria in every song that I sing
- They're fond of slipping in references to The Sandman in many songs.
- Also many references to Henderson The Rain King, including one song title "The Rain King"
- The Show Must Go On: A 2002 performance in Los Angeles saw drummer Ben Mize fall ill mid-show, requiring his hospitalization. After a brief intermission, the band switched to acoustic instruments and performed several songs without a drummer, before drummers Randy Guss of Toad the Wet Sprocket (their opening band) and Todd Roper of Cake (who was in the audience) were persuaded to appear onstage to finish the show.