Song of the Day #1,510: ‘Omaha’ – Counting Crows

Counting Crows is a perfect example of my ‘Folk Rock Derivative’ group. They have branched out into a wide range of musical directions, but there is a rootsy core to all of their work that traces straight back to Bob Dylan, The Band and Van Morrison.

In fact, the band has name-checked Dylan and Richard Manuel in song and covered Morrison in concert. Hell, ‘Mr. Jones’ sounds like a lost lost track off of Moondance.

As for my other categories, it’s a mixed bag. The Crows make good use of the piano but probably not often enough to earn them a spot there. They have approached a ‘Pure Pop’ sound, but it has never eclipsed their inherent folksiness.

I’ll no doubt take some heat for this from a certain commenter, but I do hear a bit of ‘Country Plus’ in the band’s music. There is an alt-country feel to much of their debut album, August and Everything After and particularly the second side of their most recent record, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings.

In fact, Crows guitarist Dan Vickrey said of the album, “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.”

Setting the country debate aside, there is no doubt that Counting Crows earns a spot in the ‘Melancholy’ category. Adam Duritz, the saddest man to ever sleep with two-thirds of the women of Friends, has written a boatload of mid-tempo tear-jerkers. He has provided a soundtrack to lonely insomniacs the world over.

So Counting Crows gets two big check marks for ‘Folk Rock Derivative’ and ‘Melancholy’ and one little one for ‘Country Plus,’ making them my third three-category artists so far.

Start tearing the old man down
Run past the heather and down to the old road
Start turning the grain into the ground Roll a new leaf over
In the middle of the night
There’s an old man treading around in the gathered rain
Well mister, if you’re going to walk on water
Could you drop a line my way?

Omaha Somewhere in middle America
Get right to the heart of matters
It’s the heart that matters more
I think you better turn your ticket in
And get your money back at the door

Start threading a needle
Brush past the shuttle that slides through the cold room
Start turning the wool across the wire Roll a new life over
In the middle of the night
There’s an old man threading his toes through a bucket of rain
Hey mister, you don’t want to walk on water
Because you’re going to just walk all over me

Omaha Somewhere in middle America
Get right to the heart of the matters
It’s the heart that matters more
I think you better turn your ticket in
And get your money back at the door

Start running the banner down
Drop past the color come up through the summer rain
Start turning the girl into the ground Roll a new love over
In the middle of the day
There’s a young man rolling around in the earth and rain
Hey Mister, if you’re going to walk on water
You know you’re only going to walk all over me

Omaha Somewhere in middle America
Get right to the heart of matters
It’s the heart that matters more
I think you better turn your ticket in
And get your money back at the door

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3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,510: ‘Omaha’ – Counting Crows

  1. Dana says:

    Well, certainly there are historical and musical root connections between folk and country. But while I am not as familiar with Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings to determine how entrenched some of the songs may be in the country camp, I would say most of what I know and love from the Crows fits firmly into the folk rock genre.

  2. Amy says:

    Adam is a masterful singer/songwriter, to be sure. He would fall into the category of a singer/songwriter who fronts a band :)

  3. Amy says:

    “Omaha” is a favorite, by the way, and I readily recognize and embrace their country influences, as does Dana, because we have musically bonded with this particular songwriter and are thus more willing to tolerate and even enjoy that which we might not if delivered by an artist with whom we did not have that relationship.

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