Counting Crows

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Counting Crows
Background information
Origin U.S. flag San Francisco, California, United States
Genre(s) Alternative rock
Rock Americana
Years active 1991–present
Label(s) Geffen
Dan Vickrey
David Immerglück
Charlie Gillingham
Adam Duritz
David Bryson
Jim Bogios
Former members
Steve Bowman
Ben Mize
Matt Malley

Counting Crows is an American alternative rock band that became highly popular in 1994 following the release of their debut album August and Everything After, which featured the hit song "Mr. Jones." Their influences include R.E.M., Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and The Band.[1][2]

The band took their name from a divination rhyme about the European Magpie, heard by Duritz in the film Signs of Life.[3] The rhyme is used at the end of the song "A Murder of One" on the album August and Everything After: "Well I dreamt I saw you walking up a hillside in the snow / 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 / Seven for a secret never to be told."


[edit] History

[edit] Formation

Singer Adam Duritz and guitarist Dave Bryson (both formerly members of Bay Area band The Himalayans) formed Counting Crows in San Francisco in 1991. As well as his experience in The Himalayans, Duritz had contributed to recordings by the Bay Area group Sordid Humor, though never a member. Counting Crows began as an acoustic duo, playing gigs in and around Berkeley and San Francisco.

By 1993 the band had grown to a stable lineup of Duritz, Bryson, Matt Malley (bass), Charley Gillingham (keys) and Steve Bowman (drums), and were regulars on the Bay Area scene. The same year, the band was signed to Geffen Records. On 16th January 1993,[4] the band, still relatively unknown, filled in for Van Morrison at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony; they were introduced by an enthusiastic Robbie Robertson.[1]

At some point before their signing to Geffen, the band recorded demo versions of a number of songs, known as the 'Flying Demos'. These later surfaced among the Counting Crows fanbase. Tracks include "Rain King", "Omaha", "Anna Begins", "Einstein On The Beach (For An Eggman)", "Shallow Days", "Love and Addiction", "Mr Jones", "Round Here", "40 Years", "Margery Dreams of Horses", "Bulldog", "Lightning" and "We're Only Love".

Various songs from this tape would later resurface on the band's debut album August and Everything After; the songs contained on the tape featured different music and in some instances different lyrics.

[edit] Chart success with Mr. Jones

From the beginning, Counting Crows focused on performing live, and this was the foundation of their success.[citation needed] The band's debut album August and Everything After, produced by T-Bone Burnett, was released in 1993. The band toured heavily in 1993 and 1994, both as headliners and in support of artists such as Cracker, the Cranberries, Suede, Bob Dylan, Los Lobos, Jellyfish, and Midnight Oil.[3] The first single, "Mr. Jones," referred to the father of The Himalayans bassist (and Duritz's childhood friend) Marty Jones, describing the desire of working musicians to make it big and the fantasies they entertain about what this might bring.[5] In December 1993,[3] MTV began playing the video for the song. It was an unexpected hit, drawing massive radio play and launching the band into stardom. August and Everything After became the fastest-selling album since Nirvana's Nevermind.[6] In 1994 the band appeared on Saturday Night Live[3] and Late Night with David Letterman, and toured with The Rolling Stones.[7][3] The album sold 7 million copies, but success took a toll on the band; drummer Steve Bowman left,[7] and Duritz suffered a widely-reported nervous breakdown,[8] which was not his first.[6]

[edit] Recovering the Satellites: Breakdown and recovery

The band played only two gigs in 1995.[4] This allowed Duritz to write a set of songs that became the band's second album, Recovering the Satellites.[8] Released on October 10, 1996, it was heavier than August and Everything After, perhaps due to the addition of second guitarist Dan Vickrey, who had joined in early 1994. A response to the sudden fame that "Mr. Jones" had brought, it contains lyrics such as "These days I feel like I'm fading away / Like sometimes when I hear myself on the radio" (from "Have You Seen Me Lately?") and "Gonna get back to basics / Guess I'll start it up again" (from "Recovering the Satellites"). In July 1997, after nine months of near-constant touring in support of the album, Duritz developed nodules on his vocal cords, leading to the cancellation of a number of gigs.[9] After taking time off to recover, the band toured for the rest of 1997, concluding with a show at the Hammerstein Ballroom, New York. This concert was released as half of a double live album Across a Wire: Live in New York City. The other disc was a recording of an acoustic set from the band's appearance on VH1's Storytellers.

[edit] This Desert Life

In 1999, Counting Crows released This Desert Life, sales of which were propelled by the success of "Hanginaround" and "Colorblind" (which was heard in the movie Cruel Intentions). In support of the album, the band embarked on a co-headlining tour with alternative rock band Live; the bands alternated who performed first. Frequently, Duritz joined the stage for Live's performance of "The Dolphin's Cry," and Live's Ed Kowalczyk sang a verse of "Hanginaround" with the Crows.

For the album and subsequent tour, the band invited session player and long-time friend David Immerglück to join the band full-time. Immerglück had played on August and Everything After and Recovering the Satellites, but other musical commitments had prevented him from joining the band full time.[10] Immerglück plays a variety of instruments with the band, including acoustic, electric, and pedal steel guitars and mandolin, as well as contributing backing vocals.

[edit] Hard Candy

On July 9, 2002, the band released their fourth studio album, Hard Candy. The album included a cover of Joni Mitchell's song "Big Yellow Taxi." Vanessa Carlton contributed backing vocals to the single edit of the track, which appeared on the soundtrack for Two Weeks Notice.

In November 2003, Counting Crows released the greatest hits album, Films About Ghosts. (The title is taken from the lyrics of "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby," which appeared on This Desert Life They also toured in 2003 with John Mayer, Maroon 5, and the Graham Colton Band.

In 2004, the band's "Accidentally in Love" appeared on the soundtrack of the hugely popular computer-animated film Shrek 2. The song was nominated for an Academy Award,[11][12] and later versions of the 2003 greatest hits album include the track.

In June 2006, the band released New Amsterdam: Live at Heineken Music Hall, a live album assembled from performances on their 2003 tour in support of Hard Candy. Although it is composed mainly of performances of already released material, it also contains "Hazy" (co-written with tour support act Gemma Hayes) and various vendor-specific additional tracks, such as "Blues Run the Game" and "Black and Blue."

[edit] Saturday Nights, Sunday Mornings

Duritz hinted in a number of interviews[13][14] that Counting Crows' next studio record will be released in 2007. He indicated that the band recently had spent three weeks working in a recording studio with Gil Norton, the producer behind Recovering the Satellites. Duritz has revealed the working title of the album to be Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, explaining, "Saturday night is when you sin and Sunday is when you regret. Sinning is often done very loudly, angrily, bitterly, violently."[13] Vickrey has stated that "the idea at the moment is to have kind of a rocking side and then an acoustic-y, maybe country-ish side. We got the first half done in May in New York, so half of it is pretty strong and done. And now we're going to work on the second half, the country tunes, during the tour."[14]

Current tentative song titles for the new record include "Come Around," "Cowboys," "Hanging Tree," "Insignificant," and "Suffocate," the origins of which predate Recovering the Satellites.

[edit] Live Performances

Counting Crows, and Adam Duritz in particular, have become renowned for the energetic, passionate nature of their live performances. They have been described as "riveting and revealing...emotionally wracked, radical rearrangements."[13] It has been said that "each set is wholly raw, emotional and on the fly."[15] Duritz frequently extends and rewrites songs live, adding extra verses or alternate middle sections and/or endings, sometimes fitting most of another of the band’s songs into the middle of the first. He often uses other artists’ lyrics in these sections as well, ranging from well-known acts like Bruce Springsteen and Van Morrison to obscure Bay Area bands, including revisiting material from his days working with Sordid Humor. Whilst most songs have been altered at some point during the band’s history, the ones most often subjected to this treatment include Round Here, Goodnight Elisabeth, Rain King and A Murder of One. Examples of this can be heard on the “MTV Live at the 10 Spot” disc from Across a Wire: Live in New York City (“Round Here” contains lyrics from “Have You Seen Me Lately?”) and the “VH1 Storytellers” disc (Anna Begins has an extended mid-section with new lyrics, and the introduction to Mr Jones includes lyrics from a song by The Byrds). Fansites[16][17] have attempted to keep records of these alternate lyrics or “alts”.

The band has covered artists such as Rod Stewart, Pure Prairie League, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, U2 and Oasis.

The band has also become known for its acoustic performances, most notably recorded on the VH1 Storytellers disc from ‘’Across a Wire: Live in New York City’’. The band reportedly decided that they would not play any songs for which they did not have substantially different acoustic arrangements. They have since performed variations on these acoustic arrangements at a number of concerts, often opening with a few acoustic numbers before launching into an electric set.

Counting Crows are one of a small number of contemporary popular music acts that not only permits but actively encourages the recording of their concerts, and the distribution of the resulting “bootleg” recordings. They host a trading network on their website[18] to enable fans to swap concert recordings; no-one is allowed to sell recordings for profit on this network, instead fans either trade bootlegs for other bootlegs, or else pay for the blank media and postage and packing.

[edit] Band members

Current Members

Former Members

[edit] Discography

[edit] Studio albums

[edit] Compilations

[edit] Live albums

[edit] Singles

Year Song US Hot 100 US Modern Rock US Adult Top 40 UK Album
1993 "Mr. Jones" - #2 - #28 August And Everything After
1994 "Round Here" - #7 - - August And Everything After
1994 "Einstein on the Beach (For An Eggman)" - #1 - - DGC Rarities Volume 1
1995 "Rain King" - #3 - - August And Everything After
1995 "A Murder Of One" - - - - August And Everything After
1996 "Angels of the Silences" - #3 - - Recovering The Satellites
1997 "Daylight Fading" - #26 #20 - Recovering The Satellites
1997 "A Long December" - #5 #6 - Recovering The Satellites
1999 "Hanginaround" #28 #17 #5 - This Desert Life
2000 "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby" - - #40 - This Desert Life
2000 "All My Friends" - - - - This Desert Life
2002 "American Girls" - - #24 #33 Hard Candy
2002 "Miami" - - - - Hard Candy
2003 "Big Yellow Taxi" #42 - #5 #13 Hard Candy
2003 "If I Could Give All My Love (Richard Manuel Is Dead)" - - - - Hard Candy
2004 "Holiday in Spain" (Together with Bløf) - - - Hard Candy
2004 "She Don't Want Nobody Near" - - #20 - Films About Ghosts (The Best Of...)
2004 "Accidentally In Love" #39 - #3 #28 Shrek 2 Soundtrack

[edit] Trivia

  • Adam Duritz has contributed vocals to Live's "Flow," and backing vocals on Ryan Adams' "Answering Bell" from the Gold CD, and 'The Wallflowers' "6th Avenue Heartache."
  • The band's songs have appeared in several films:
  • Duritz also contributed songs to the Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack that were performed by the film's fictional title band.
  • The song "Raining in Baltimore" is featured on the soundtrack of "The Last of the Watermen" episode of Homicide: Life on the Street.
  • The band members are fans of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series of comic books. Some of their songs, including "A Murder of One" and "Angels of the Silences," contain references to the comics.
  • British artist Dave McKean contributed the artwork on This Desert Life. He also created the cover of Neil Gaiman's Sandman.
  • Several notable collaborators appeared on Hard Candy, including Ryan Adams (lyrics and vocals for "Butterfly In Reverse"), Jerry Hey (flugelhorn solo on "Carriage"), and Sheryl Crow (vocals on "American Girls").
  • In the song "Rain King," Duritz compares himself to Mr. Henderson, the main character in Saul Bellow novel Henderson the Rain King.
  • Duritz dated Friends actresses Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston in the 1990s, as well as actress Monica Potter, about whom he wrote "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby." Cox appeared in the music video for "A Long December."
  • Duritz and Immerglück have performed a radio show called "The Devil and The Bunny Show" while on tour in various countries.
  • August and Everything After was certified 7 times platinum in October 1996.
  • At their June 21, 2006 concert in Portland, Oregon, Duritz said that "Goodnight Elisabeth" was "written about a girl from Lake Oswego who fuckin' ruined me."[citation needed]
  • Duritz and Ryan Adams wrote every other line of "Butterfly in Reverse."
  • Counting Crows is a favorite band of Ann Coulter.[citation needed]

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Counting Crows biography",, 2005. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  2. ^ Kot, Greg. "Counting Crows: Biography",, 2004. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  3. ^ a b c d e "The Biggest New Band In America", Rolling Stone, 1994-06-30. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  4. ^ a b " Gig Archive", Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  5. ^ "We're gonna be big stars",, 2005-10-31. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  6. ^ a b Greenstreet, Rosanna. "Q&A: Adam Duritz", The Guardian, 2003-02-15. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  7. ^ a b "Steve Bowman - About Steve", Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  8. ^ a b Strauss, Neil. "Stars Come Out From Under", The New York Times, 1996-10-15. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  9. ^ "Duritz Needs To Rest Voice",, 1997-07-25. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  10. ^ Farley, Mike. "Interview with David Immergluck of Counting Crows",, 2003. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  11. ^ "Counting Crows", IMDB. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  12. ^ Mar, Alex. "Crows Nab Oscar Nom",, 2005-01-25. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  13. ^ a b c Weiner, Ben. "Counting Crows: Rearranged, revealing, riveting", Orange County Register, 2006-07-02. Retrieved on 2007-03-02.
  14. ^ a b Benson, John. "New Counting Crows: One Part Rock, One Part Country", Billboard, 2006-06-20. Retrieved on 2007-03-02.
  15. ^ Seabaugh, Julie. "Our Critic Picks", Nashville Scene, 2006-08-21. Retrieved on 2007-03-02.
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[edit] External links

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