Editor's note: Is It Wrong is a therapeutic column examining feelings we have about music that just aren't quite right. To ease any discomfort, County Grind will explore these emotions and thoughts, breaking down from whence our feelings of guilt, disgust, and shame arise. And, as they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
This is not about Adam Duritz's dreads or his wailing through "Mr. Jones." I never cared for the Counting Crows' habit of mangling their songs when performing live. No, I love them because I used the lyrics to "Round Here" for a poetry assignment in seventh-grade English.
Round here, we talk just like lions/But we sacrifice like lambs/Round here, she's slipping though my hands.
The nonsensical simile, the angst, the earnest strumming! It still makes the 13-year-old in me swoon.
August and Everything After was an album that moved mountains of emotional
baggage. Every song haunted and pleaded, and they built on one another in a rare and ravaging way. Just try to listen to "Anna Begins"
without a clenching in your chest. OK, maybe you feel nauseous instead.
But Jennifer Aniston fell for it. What were legions of teenaged girls to
Granted, the band has gone downhill since the '90s. I toted around a dubbed cassette of Recovering the Satellites for a few years. "A Long December" and "Goodnight Elisabeth" still brought that familiar uplifting depression, like the moody, artsy boys you fall for until you realize they are alcoholics. By the time "Big Yellow Taxi" came along, I was over it.
Now, listening to Underwater Sunshine, the depression returns in a different way. What the hell happened? Who came up with this soul-sucking mendacity, and is that person feeding Duritz Klonopin? (All the songs are covers, so that explains some of the awfulness -- but not all of it.)
It's tough to witness this kind of self-destruction. But still, knowing the Counting Crows are performing at SunFest makes me wonder: Will they perform "Omaha" for nostalgia's sake? And can I sing along?