As I’ve mentioned on the blog before, it annoys me that Counting Crows don’t get the critical or mainstream respect they deserve. I don’t need to feel sorry for rich, famous rock stars, but Adam Duritz and company shouldn’t have such abuses heaped on them. So I’m doing my part this week to stand up for a band I’ve found consistently excellent over the 15 years they’ve been recording.
It’s rather fitting that this theme week follows the one I did on The Smiths because (as much as it will irk Dana to read this) the groups are similar. Not in sound — they’re quite different in that regard — but in that they both have self-indulgent lead singers with non-traditional voices that people either love or hate. Morrissey is accused of wallowing in self-pity in his lyrics but Adam Duritz puts him to shame in that department. That doesn’t bother me, though… I adore both groups.
One of the things that irks me to no end is the utter lack of respect shown to Counting Crows over the years by both critics and music fans. Sure, they have their ardent fans, but so do all bands. Somewhere out there is a well-visited Right Said Fred fan site.
But for Counting Crows to be lumped in with the Hootie and the Blowfish(es) of the world is just criminal. This band has put out five stellar albums… albums full of literate, challenging music. Their songs are smart, funny and emotional. Yes, they’ve cribbed from Van Morrisson, The Band and R.E.M. over the years, but if you’re gonna steal, steal from the best.
When I told Alex this week would be a tribute to the music of our courtship, she immediately guessed two of the songs I was featuring. The first was ‘Galileo’. The second was this one.
The latest Counting Crows album suffers from Goldilocks Syndrome — parts of it are too hard, parts are too soft and the rest is just about right. The concept here was that the record’s first half represents the “Saturday nights,” with hard-rocking and much mayhem, while the rest calls to mind “Sunday mornings,” and the gentler comedowns they provide. The idea would have worked better over two discs, but presented as one album of fourteen songs it seems less like a high concept than a purposeless and jarring shift in tone.