01 October 2015

Throwback Jam of the Week: Rain King by Counting Crows

Went to lunch today with Esteeb. He is going to the Counting Crows concert tomorrow night because he is a person that does Things. While we were at lunch this song came on and I laughed because I have not heard it for a while. Like, a long while.

He is not super pumped to see Counting Crows, and I don't much blame him, but only because I have heard they like to sing their songs in different keys and tempos during the live shows. I hate that shit. I'm not the kind of listener that pays good green American money to hear an interpretation from the artist. I want to hear the hits.

Anyway: Counting Crows. I used to love this band like no other, and when this record came out back in the day I listened to all the songs over and over again, learned all the words, sung along as much as I could (badly), and probably annoyed those around me with my unfettered enthusiasm. hashtag SorryNotSorry. Borrowing from Rembert Browne: "You couldn’t pay me a million dollars to relive a single day of it. I miss it so much."

Ended up having to go away that summer to a very, very unhappy situation. I try not to dwell on it too much, but this record was a joy during that (otherwise very dark) time.

At the time people were either very much in or very much out on the band. They were not cool, the lead singer caught a lot of shit for being famous(?) and whatever else. Steven Hyden (a professional music critic and also a fan of the Crows) puts it thusly:

I don’t think it’s necessarily the consensus opinion that Counting Crows sucks, because I know plenty of people who couldn’t care less about the band’s albums but will concede that “Round Here” is a great song. It’s just accepted that Counting Crows signifies a lot of what’s retroactively considered embarrassing about ’90s rock — the earnestness, the over-the-top emotionalism that veers into whininess, and the weird combination of sullenness about fame and the intense interest in crafting singles that are still played endlessly on the radio.

He's not wrong. Thing is, I still love this song.

You find a record where the record finds you. By that I mean the time and place, the set and setting, the way you consume the music will inform how you feel about the music for as long as you listen to it. Hyden goes long on this topic with a record that he thinks is better than August and Everything After. We can agree to disagree about that. For now, "She's been dying, and IIIIIIIIIIiiiiiiiii've been drinking, and I am the Rain King."

Thanks for reading.

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