Friday, December 01, 2006

Albums that I Love #1: August and Everything After

August and Everything After

In the intro to this topic that I gave on Wednesday, I mentioned Columbia House and their 12 for a penny introductory offer. Well in that first 12, came a CD that was destined to become perhaps my favorite of all-time: August and Everything After by The Counting Crows.

I picked being only really familiar with the song Mr. Jones and perhaps vaguely familiar with Round Here. But as I listened to the CD something in the melancholy sound struck a chord with me. To be honest, its kind of a sad album to listen to. But something in the sadness is cathartic for me. At times when I'm feeling down, I like to listen to this album and sing along and let some of the down-ness out. I've owned it for over 10 years and the songs never get old for me.

Here's some quick thoughts on each of the tracks:

1. Round Here
This song is perhaps the epitome of who the Counting Crows are and what their music is about. When they play it live it sometimes goes as long as 12 minutes with bits of other songs mixed in. Not my favorite song, but definitely a CC classic.

2. Omaha
This song was probably my favorite when I first bought the album. I like the resonating hum of the organ. When my brother and his wife moved to Omaha, they bought the album for that reason alone. No idea how they feel about the album as a whole.

3. Mr. Jones
This song, while upbeat still exudes a melancholy acceptance of not being all that you'd like to be. Subsequent versions of the song tend to slow the tempo and the underlying wanting for something more comes through even clearer.

4. Perfect Blue Buildings
Not sure what this song is about, but you have to love the line "try to keep myself away from me".

5. Anna Begins
A song that addresses the topic of love and how it can move a person from just wanting a fling to wanting something more and not being ready for that.

6. Time and Time Again
Again, love the organ, and the singing.

7. Rain King
Another rare upbeat track. Again, I've never been able to really figure out what this is about.

8. Sullivan Street
This song, to me, sounds the saddest of all the songs on the album. Kind of a quiet song, resigned.

9. Ghost Train
My least favorite song on the album. Nothing against it, it just doesn't reach me at the same level as the rest of the songs.

10. Raining in Baltimore
I love this piano-solo song about being away from home, alone, and wanting to have someone to connect with. "I need a phone call." Also has a line that I love, "Three Thousand, Five Hundred Miles Away". Like how the songs builds and then fades out again at the end.

11. Murder of One
The title of this song comes from the fact that a group of crows is called a 'murder'. Another upbeat song with the whole band chipping in. Contains the familiar rhyme about "One for Sorrow, Two for Joy..." Good song to finish the album. I'm always amazed at how just repeating the same line over and over again can work. "I walk along these hillsides in the summer 'neath the sunshine, I am feathered by the moonlight falling down on me."

Interesting note: The 'title' track of the album didn't make it on to the album, but behind the words on the album cover, you can see the lyrics. There's no album version of "August and Everything After", but Adam Duritz, the lead singer, was able to get the lyrics put back together and sang the song live in December of 2003. As the Crows encourage their fans to record their shows, the track can be found in various places online if you know where to look.

3 comments:

Michael Krahn said...

Hey,

Nice post. I'll out in a "Further Reading" post at the end of my series.

I just put the second of 5 parts about Counting Crows up on my blog.

Found you through Google blog search because you mentioned the band.

Check it out:

http://krahn.blogspot.com/

j said...

Good stuff, man. There's just something about the Crows that reaches down into me in a way that other music doesn't.

BigSal said...

Damn! I Thought i was the only person alive who put the August &.. of the crows on the top of his list, that record is awesome, it remembers me a lot of people and places.. nice. Ok, Greetings from Mexico City. :)