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REVIEW OF AUGUST AND EVERYTHING AFTER BY COUNTING CROWS

Adam Duritz' haunting voice and poetic lyrics capture the beauty, love, loss, and longing that comprise our relationships with others, the world around us, and ourselves. A hearfelt, exquisite and acclaimed album.

August and Everything After by Counting Crows
August

  • "We all want something beautiful, man I wish I was beautiful."- Mr. Jones

  • "I wanted so badly somebody other than me staring back at me, but you were gone, gone, gone." - Time and Time Again

  • "You try to tell yourself the things you try to tell yourself to make yourself forget." - Anna Begins

  • "The lyricist discovery of the year is Adam Duritz." - Rolling Stone, 12/3/93

  • Over 7 Million copies sold, 93 weeks on Billboard Hot 200 Chart, peaking at #4 and earning 2 Grammy nominations.

  • "The Biggest New Band in America" - Rolling Stone, June 30, 1994

  • "Our next guests are one of the best new bands around and this is their debut album here. It's entitled August and Everything After. And I'm telling you something...if you don't have a copy of this, there's something wrong with you." - David Letterman before Counting Crows' first appearance on his show.
In the early 1990's, grunge music was the talk of the town. Ten years later, overblown choreography and a focus on looks had replaced songwriting talent and emotional delivery as the dish of the day. But, somewhere in between the two, Counting Crows managed to become a household name with an album that incorporated neither. This is an album that will be dear to anyone familiar with the delicate mixture of pain and beauty that comprises our relationships. After years of boy bands and pop princesses, it is incredibly refreshing to revisit a band that "gets right to the heart of matters" and believes "it's the heart that matters more."

August and Everything After is an album that employs remarkable simplicity, while managing to focus with laser-like precision on our most raw emotions. Its beauty is evident in its plaintive music, lyrics that cut like a razor and, most noticeably, in the chillingly emotional voice of Adam Duritz, a talent with a rare blend of poet and musician. Duritz clearly tapped deep into his abundant songwriting talent to deliver these eleven songs, capturing the very essence of the difficult and frighteningly powerful emotions of life and love. Combined with his enormously talented, hand-picked "all-star team" of Bay Area players, the result is an album that achieved that ever-elusive mixture of critical and commercial success.

The chemistry and talent of Counting Crows was evident immediately. Before even recording August, their debut album, they opened for Bob Dylan in Los Angeles. And, nine months before the album hit stores, The Band's Robbie Robertson personally selected them to perform Van Morrison's classic, Caravan, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, in inductee Morrison's absence. But, for most of the world, introduction to Counting Crows came by way of their smash hit, Mr. Jones, a poignant song about the dream of fame and attention so often sought to fill inner insecurities. With Mr. Jones' release, the band entered the public consciousness and, after a ballyhooed appearance on Saturday Night Live in January, 1994, they crashed onto the Billboard charts with rarely seen swiftness.

By March, the album was certified Platinum and had earned them a huge fan in David Letterman, on whose program they played a version of Round Here almost too heartfelt for a latenight talk show. Letterman was so impressed that a few years later, he made Counting Crows the first band to ever appear on his show on consecutive nights. The album continued its skyrocket up the charts, and a slew of awards and appearances followed, including an MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist, an American Music Award for Favorite Alternative Band, a gig opening for the Rolling Stones' Voodoo Lounge tour, and two Grammy nominations.

One listen to August and Everything After reveals the root of all of this success. From beginning to end, it flows with nearly perfect and seamless cohesion as a work of art. It fades in with a three-note guitar arpeggio that instantly betrays the album's soulful simplicity, followed shortly by Duritz's melancholy voice painting the first brushstroke on his canvas: "Step out the front door like a ghost into the fog where noone notices the contrast of white on white." Many listeners will recognize this hit, Round Here, along with the third track, Mr. Jones. But, those who assume that these two radio-friendly songs are all August is about are in for a surprise. Comprised of eleven absolute gems, the album has much more to offer.

And what it offers is a masterpiece reflecting all that is involved in our relationships with others, the world around us and one's self. The surprisingly deep and broad exploration of subjects sets the tone for the majority of Duritz' songwriting career:
  • Love
    • "This isn't love, because if you don't wanna talk about it, it isn't love, and I guess I'm gonna have to live with that." - Anna Begins
    • "Love is a ghost train rumbling through the darkness...Love is a ghost train howling on the radio." - Ghost Train

  • Loss
    • "Round here she's slipping through my hands." - Round Here
    • "I wanted to see you walking away from me without the sensation that you're leaving me alone." - Time and Time Again
    • "We were perfect when we started. I've been wondering where we've gone." - A Murder of One

  • Regret
    • "All your life is such a shame, shame, shame. All your love is just a dream, dream, dream. Open up your eyes and you can see the flames, flames, flames of your wasted life. You should be ashamed." - A Murder of One

  • Abuse
    • "Are you happy where you're sleeping? Does he keep you safe and warm? Does he tell you when you're sorry? Does he tell you when you're wrong?" - A Murder of One

  • Distance
    • "Three thousand five hundred miles away, but what would you change if you could?" - Raining in Baltimore

  • The Ache and Fear of Loneliness
    • "When everybody loves me, I will never be lonely....When everybody loves me, I'm gonna be just about as happy as I can be." - Mr. Jones
    • "Mama, mama, mama, why am I so alone?" - Rain King
    • "She buys a ticket cause it's cold where she comes from. She climbs aboard because she's scared of getting older in the snow." - Ghost Train

  • Longing
    • "She's perfect for you, man there's got to be somebody for me." - Mr. Jones

  • The Desperate, Addictive Potential of Desire
    • "Got an attitude of everything I ever wanted, I've got an attitude of need." - Perfect Blue Buildings
    • "I'm almost drowning in her sea, she's nearly crawling on her knees, it's almost everything I need." - Sullivan Street

  • The Difficulty of Living with Oneself
    • "And she knows she's more than just a little misunderstood. She has trouble acting normal when she's nervous." - Round Here
    • "I gotta get me a little oblivion, baby, to try to keep myself away from me...I can't keep myself away from me...How am I gonna keep myself away from me?" - Perfect Blue Buildings
    • "Time and time again I can't please myself." - Time and Time Again

  • Intense Ambition
    • "We all wanna be big big stars, yeah but we got different reasons for that." - Mr. Jones
    • "Don't try to bleed me cause I've been here before and I deserve a little more." - Rain King

  • Memory
    • "Round here she's always on my mind." - Round Here
    • "If she remembers, she hides it whenever we meet." - Sullivan Street
    • "Remember everything she said when only memories remain." - Ghost Train
    • "There's things I'll remember, things I'll forget. I miss you, I guess that I should." - Raining in Baltimore

  • Sleeplessness
    • "If it's love, she said, then you're gonna have to think about the consequences and I don't get no sleep in a quiet room." - Anna Begins
Despite the inherently disenchanted nature of its themes, August and Everything After does provide uplifting moments, as well. In addition to the briskly-tempoed, if yearning, Mr. Jones, Rain King delivers a well-timed shot of upbeat relief. And the last track, A Murder of One, ends the album on a cautiously hopeful note as Duritz implores the listener "Don't waste your life" and repeats the word "Change". This ending is poetically appropriate. Duritz was 30 when Counting Crows finally made their splash. He had spent years struggling in undiscovered bands, toiling away at menial jobs, losing himself in drugs, and wandering overseas in a desperate search for direction in his life. With the widespread recognition of August and Everthing After, Duritz had finally achieved a major change in himself and in the musical landscape. Even if he did nothing more, to millions of deeply touched and loyal fans his life would assuredly never be considered a waste.

On the heels of this success, presaged in his lyrics' intense yearning, Adam Duritz and Counting Crows have gone on to bigger, though perhaps never better, things. But, their fans will never forget the first time this band walked into their lives with this remarkable album full of lyrics that seemed to eerily echo their own thoughts and emotions about the deep meaning of our relationships to each other and to the world.

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