Clay is notorious for his hatred of Greatest Hits compilations. He won’t own them, even if those are the only songs he wishes to listen to from a particular artist. Therefore, when he realized I owned “Films about Ghosts,” the Counting Crows’ version of a “Greatest Hits” album, despite the fact that I own all of their other albums, he understandably chided me.
I don’t really know how or when we got that album, but it does happen to contain a couple of great songs that don’t appear on any of their other albums, so I offered to write about one of them today. Truth is you would have to go out of your way to own every song Duritz and his Counting Crows have written and performed, as they have gems on soundtracks and covers they include on only international releases of their albums.
I consider myself a “fan” of Counting Crows (a term we’ve debated on this blog for some time), yet I had never heard (or, for that matter, even knew about) the actual song ‘August and Everything After’ until this week. Apparently it was too long to easily fit on the album of the same title, so they released their debut album without it! They didn’t change the title of that album or the cover art, which contains the lyrics to the missing song. And they never performed it or put it on a subsequent album. Years later, Duritz finally gave in to the curiosity and pressure of his fans and performed it. And it’s a very good song. But not the song I’m featuring today .
Today’s song is ‘She Don’t Want Nobody Near.’ I chose it both because I like it very much and because I found these quotes about it by Adam Duritz:
“‘It’s gotta be the most grammatically stupid thing I ever wrote in my life — now I wish I’d titled it something else.”
“I don’t sit around thinking about being literate. This is just how I write. I was a kid who was an English major, so my songs are gonna sound like that. So I’m not looking to be intellectual in my work — I just want it to be emotional. I wanna make people feel.”
As an English teacher, I love both of these sentiments. His regret at writing a grammatically incorrect title and his pride at writing songs that are unabashedly literate and emotional (even if those songs will sometimes be grammatically suspect )
I tend to think the “she” of the title is actually Duritz himself, constantly pushing others away. The lyrics that most remind me of Duritz, who has written quite a bit about his struggle with depression, are these:
‘Cause she don’t want anybody to see
What she looks like when she’s down
‘Cause that’s a really sad place to be
As he often does, Duritz makes even the most poignant lyrics incredibly bouncy and fun to sing along to. I hope this song somewhat redeems the existence of a greatest hits album in my Counting Crows collection.
But you can’t get away from that
They appear and disappear
And they all get a string attached
Pretty soon they got you hanging on a line
Pretty soon they’re singing one by one the same old rhyme
They say, “I’m alright, I just can’t get home tonight.”
She don’t want nobody home
Cause it’s a little too crowded then
But she don’t wanna be alone
So they just keep pouring in
Pretty soon they got her headed for the door
She comes home to find that they’re not hanging ’round no more
She says “I’m alright, you just can’t get home tonight.”
Don’t you wonder what she looks like in the light?
She says “I’m alright, I just can’t get home tonight.”
Pretty whitewashed lies
And the reasons that need cleaning every night
Half a world away
You can’t wash away the stain of the deceiving
And the things that you cannot believe, and well…
She don’t want no one around
Cause she don’t want anybody to see
What she looks like when she’s down
Cause that’s a really sad place to be
Pretty soon she gets them crawling up the walls
Then she wonders why they beg her please to never call
She says, “I’m ok. It’s alright. Hey, look who’s on TV tonight.”
She says, “I’m alright, I just can’t get home tonight.”
Don’t you wonder why it’s dark outside at night?
She says, I’m alright, I just can’t get home tonight.”