Saturday, January 17, 2009

Unapologetic rant against Counting Crows

Today, we're starting a new category of posts called "Making My Readers Mad." This is reserved for posts I think will incite the furor of some fraction of the small audience reading this fine blog.

I hate Counting Crows. I have never liked Counting Crows. They came to being at a time in my life where if it didn't involve heavy guitars I hated it. Even today, when I love all kinds of rootsy bands - a little bit of just about everything, really - I cannot bear this band.

Why? Let's review:

  • They are vastly overrated.
  • In my high school, when they first came out, every kid who loved them was an ass. And they went on and on about how great Counting Crows is. And how I just don't understand. And how the bands I like aren't nearly the musicians that the members of Counting Crows are. And, how that even though I saw Pink Floyd, Beck, an entire flipping Lollapalooza, R.E.M. and many more before graduation, I had not yet seen a "good" concert because my resume lacked a Counting Crows show. Get the picture? It's sad, but I want Counting Crows to get caught in some 15-years-later lip syncing scandal just to get back at the ass-heads in my high school who freaking cuddled with effigies of Adam Duritz.
  • Rolling Stone once proclaimed, after their first single, that Counting Crows would be the music we'd all be listening to for years on the radio. Which not only made me mad, but has become true, especially since Counting Crows are a favorite of those "great to listen to in the office" radio stations.
  • There were ABSOLUTELY better bands than Counting Crows at the time Counting Crows came out. Toad the Wet Sprocket for instance. The Gin Blossoms. And here's the thing: neither of those bands were ones I particularly liked at the time. I now, in hindsight, listen to Toad and ask "they were putting this stuff out and people chose to pay attention to Counting Crows?"
And yet, in the gym today, on comes flipping "Mr. Jones." At least it wasn't that god-awful "'Round Here."

So, if you like Counting Crows, good for you. Whatever you need. Me? I wish "Einstein on the Beach" had been a one-hit wonder and then the band had gone the way of Soft Cell.

As a side note to this diatribe, there ARE bands I now love that I used to hate because of some annoying S.O.B. described in bullet 2. Guster and Dave Matthews Band lead the list. The funny thing, we're talking about bands the hippie, pot-smoking kids liked. Aren't they supposed to be mellow? Yet they led the way in all categories of acting like asses.

Amazing.

9 comments:

Jen said...

Are they even still making music? I thought they stopped being relevent like 10 years ago.

Anonymous said...

First of all let me say that I discovered your blog via my Crows Google alerts. I absolutely love The Crows. They are my all time favorite band. I love Toad and the Gin Blossoms as well. I love so many different bands from every error. The Crows are much more then just “Mr Jones” or a singles band. They have a wide variety of styles that they play. Everything from Rock, pop, Folk, Country and just about everything in between. One of there guitar players David Immergluck can play every instrument except for the fiddle. If you really gave them a chance and dug a little bit deeper into there catalog you may find the beauty that is the Crows. If you did not know the Crows are a seven piece band. You have Adam Duritz the principle songwriter on lead vocals and occasionally on Piano. Then you have Dan Vickery on Electric/Acoustic lead guitar & Banjo, David Immgluck on Electric/Acoustic lead guitar, Mandolin and Pedal Steel guitar and other various instruments, Dave Bryson on Electric/Acoustic rhythm guitar and occasional bongos, Then in back row you have Jim Bogus on Drums including a stand up bass drum and a book (He’s the 3rd drummer in the band, Millard Powers on Bass electric and upright and Piano every once in a while, Charlie Gillingham on piano, Organ, Accordion, Harmonica, and other various KB’s. Each member of the band brings something different to the table and then they all come together as one. There live show is not to be missed. Even though they are not a Jamband like the DMB or the Grateful Dead they do Jam. They love to take there songs on a journey. In the middle of a song Adam may start singing another song it may be made up or it may be someone else song like Springsteen’s Thunder Road then they go right back into there own song again. In concert there songs sound nothing like they do on there albums. In concert they can be as loud as Zeppelin or as quite as a mouse. I have been to 40 Crows shows and counting and never looked back. I saw them play 3 back to back sold out shows at the newly restored Wellmont theater in NJ back in Oct. with the exception of 2 songs they did not play the same song twice. Each show is completely different. The live version of Round Here becomes this epic song that takes you on this emotional roller coaster. Adam has been known to screw up in concert and forget the words to songs (Nobody’s perfect) however there are no backing track still singing. He’s no Ashley Simpson. His voice is like a fine wine and has gotten better with age. BTW incase you did not know the song Round Here is actually a cover song originally done by the Himalayans which was a bay area band that Adam was in prier to forming the Crows. The Himalayans also featured Marty “MR” Jones on bass and were a much funky heavy melodic band. They sounded nothing like the Crows except for the fact that Adam sang and that they originally did round here. They recently took all of there studio material and radio interviews and put them on a CD she likes the weather and sold it on the web. Check out http://www.thehimalayans.com/ for more info. There where a lot of great 90’s bands however most of them broke up or faded away due to a change in music. The Crows have managed to stay a float and continue to release new music like last years Saturday Nights and Sunday mornings and continue to tour. They are about to head to Europe and Australia. They have a loyal fan base that travel all over the country to see them. Granted they are not selling out Madison Square Garden they are happy to play smaller intimate venues. They never really wanted to become the next Rolling stones. Adam is also currently working on a TV project for HBO. The music industry has changed quit a bit since the early 90’s. Toad broke up the Gin Blossoms play in bars and very small clubs. Only a handful bands made it or got real big and continue to be relevant in this post 90’s music error. I am not saying the Crows are better then any other band old or new in music but I am saying they are just as good and deserve another chance. Put aside Mr Jones and all of the commercial success and commercial songs and tap into there non commercial songs. Check out www.crowstown.com to download legal fan bootlegs and check out www.livecountingcrows .com to download official recordings from the band. And last but not least check out there Youtube videos to see them in action. Thanks for letting me rant.

P.S. BTW who is your current favorite band?

Anonymous said...

90's bands that get very little love. Here is a list of underrated bands from the 90's and today. Whiskeytown/Ryan Adams,The Jayhawks, Golden Smog (best super group of the 90's),The Wallflowers, Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, Son Volt, moe. (Best Jamband of the 90's.), Barenaked Ladies and the list goes on.

I like Guster however they are not a Jamband. I also like DMB however they are way to commerical for me. I like there old stuff. Everything after Crash into me sucks.

Adam Duritz of the Crows is such an underrated songwriter. I did not like anything about Mr. Jones however I gave them another try and they changed my mind. I dug a little deeper and fell in love with there second album. Like the guy above me said they are way more then just Mr. Jones. I also hear there live show is not to be missed.

Anonymous said...

I can live with the Counting Crows however the worst band of the 90’s in opinion has to be Hootie and the Blowfish. That song they had on the radio that was played over and over again made me want to buy there album just so I can run it over with my car.

sehyde26 said...

OMG - these anonymous comments are cracking me up. They're they exact people Jay and I are always talking about - those people who are like, "NO SERIOUSLY! You just don't understand, did you know bla bla bla bla about the Crows they're the greatest thing EVER no seriously just listen to this no for real 7 piece band no honestly Adam Duritz jizzspooge!"

The Counting Crows suck. The end.

sehyde26 said...

and apparently, none of your readers know the difference between their, there and they're. :)

Jay said...

I'm actually going to chime in real fast and note that I appreciate the civility in the anonymous comments, though, I do encourage folks to not leave anon stuff. I mean, we're all friends here.

To the first anon post - Fav band is tough for me to say. I mean, if I had to pick one flat out, it would be Pearl Jam. Guster is high on the list, too.

2nd anon - You note DMB is too commercial for you. At least there's someone else besides me that knows if a band is charging $50 a ticket, they have long since sold out. But we'll agree to disagree on the merits of them.

3rd anon - the biggest crime with Hootie is that years from now we'll turn on the radio and have someone say "one of the biggest bands of the 90s." A crime.

Anonymous said...

This is America the land of the free. We can agree to disagree. My point was that I am big music nut. I eat breath and sleep music. In my spare time I listen to albums, bootlegs, concert DVD’s and go see concerts. Not everyone is going to like the same music. If they did it would be a boring world. I strongly dislike commercial top 40 music with the exception of the Counting Crows. Like I said in my previous post you have to dig a little deeper to find some of the amazing Crows songs. Some of my all time favorite Crow songs have not been released at all. Over the years the Crows have introduced me to older bands that are not as popular as Bob Dylan or Neil Young like Fairport Convention and Big Star who I now consider all time greats. The Crows are able to write super commercial pop song like Accidentally in Love or super non commercial song about slitting your wrist. The Crows can sound like a band from the 60’s, 70’s, 80's or 90’s.

As far as other bands from the 90’s go there are plenty of other bands I loved. Pearl Jam is good. I have some of there albums but I have yet to see them in concert. I personally love When Eddy Vedder does Folk music. What is there live show like & what makes you keep coming back? I know for bands like the Grateful Dead they stretched out there songs jammed the hell out of them. They created a live album and made each song sound brand new every night they took the stage. The Crows kind of do the same thing. They can play 3 shows in a row and each one would be completely different. Each night would be a different setlist, different sound, different mood and so on. For me I can’t stand bands that come out on stage and sound just like they do on there albums. If I wanted to hear them do that I would save the money and listen to them on my stereo. I saw the Crows play with the Goo Goo Dolls a few summers ago. And the Dolls cam out did not change there songs or do anything different. They even had 2 studio musicians in the back doing all of the technical work. What’s up with that? I like that the Crows come out and take there songs on this epic journey. Each songs tells a story. It’s like going to see a movie.

I have been a fan of Guster since the late 90’s. I saw them open for Barenaked Ladies and they were great. The highlight of the show was watching the Drummer play the bongos like a mad man. They were like a Hippie band that was not a hippie band if you know what I mean. I once read a funny article that they requested all kosher food back stage because they were all Jewish. Some people only like Green M&M’s well since we are Jewish we want only kosher food. It made me laugh. I am also a big fan of Alt. Country music. I dislike the Nashville scene yet I love bands like the Jayhawks or Ryan Adams or Wilco or Yarn or Old Crow Medicine Show. I love bands that are not afraid to take risks or not afraid to not sound commercial. There are so many great singer songwriters out there that get very little recognition While that song Hey there Delilah get played on the radio 24/7 and is considered the next best thing since Dylan. What about Dan Bern, Mike Errico, Tyler Stenson, Amos Lee, Damien Rice, The swell season or Ray Lamontagne? And not to mention all of the other countless people that play in bars or coffee shops around the world working day jobs as well just to make ends meat and pay rent. I am just a bitter music snob who wants everyone to make it and not have some Rap star or pop star living in a huge mansion while other people are living out of there cars.

I will end this rant just like I started it and say this is America the land of the free. We can agree to disagree. I will also leave you with a song by one of America’s greatest songwriters of all time. This is a song that has been covered by everyone from the Counting Crows to Springsteen and everyone in between.

THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND
words and music by Woody Guthrie

Chorus:
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me

Chorus

I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

Chorus

The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me

Chorus

As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

Chorus

In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

Chorus (2x)

Anonymous said...

P.S. I am a horrible speller. So thank god for Spell check.