Fire and Water Records: Counting Crows

On this episode of Fire and Water Records, Ryan Daly returns to the alt-rock scene of the '90s. This time, Sean Ross from the Pulp 2 Pixels Podcast Network joins Ryan to discuss his favorite band, COUNTING CROWS. From ear-worm rock jams about heartache, drug use, and mental instability to haunting melodic ballads about heartache, drug use, and mental instability, this one has it all!

Track list

  1. Mr. Jones
  2. Round Here
  3. Omaha
  4. Goodnight Elizabeth
  5. Hanginaround
  6. Up All Night
  7. Mrs. Potter's Lullaby
  8. Palisades Park
  9. Possibility Days
  10. Rain King
  11. Holiday in Spain
  12. A Long December

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13 responses to “Fire and Water Records: Counting Crows

  1. All I know is, Sean Ross shaded a band on a podcast– I don’t remember the band, and I don’t remember which show, but that doesn’t matter– he shaded a band and then he devoted a podcast to Counting Crows, which colors his every opinion going forward forever. I’ll try to actually listen to the podcast, someday, definitely at double speed. Wait, I can go up to 2.5x? That then.

    *snaps* Mike + the Mechanics! I bought their eponymous album for </= $2 and had dropped it onto my phone with a bunch of other recent CD rips. It was largely meh with a few outright painful tracks, but it did have "Silent Running," which by itself is better than anything Adam Duritz ever did besides his famous girlfriends. "All I Need Is a Miracle" was decent, too.

    In case I never actually listen to a podcast dedicated to Counting Crows, despite its esteemed hosts, I really do like "'Round Here," and I guess "A Long December" isn't torturous. "Big Yellow Taxi" 'tho.

  2. I don’t think I ever shamed Mike and the Mechanics. I only know one song by then (“Living Years”) and I like it. I think what you are remembering is my guest appearance on DCOCD where I said a character was the “Imagine Dragons” of villains in that he has a little flash but isn’t memorable. I stand by it! My ten year old had an Imagine Dragons phase, so I listened to a lot of their music, and let me tell you, I never knew vanilla ice cream had a soundtrack.

    (I maaaay regret doubling down on this.)


  3. But seriously, this episode was so damn much fun to record. It is officially the only podcast I’ve ever been on that my wife listened to.

  4. I have to say one of my favorite Counting Crows songs to listen to (not necessarily favorite of their songs) is the hidden track Kid Things off of this Desert life.

  5. Well, Duritz says “I want to be Bob Dylan” in “Mr. Jones”, so I guess for Sean at least, mission accomplished.

    Entertaining episode fellas. I really only know Counting Crows as a radio hits band, so I fall into that category Sean was talking about. But this episode did open my ears a bit to the idea of checking out the rest of their body of work, so again, mission accomplished.


  6. I don’t mind slagging on a band someone else likes, but I hate doing it to the band that they like the most. So, I’ll offer a bit of perspective.

    “Mr. Jones” came out during one of the worst periods of my life. We’d finally had enough of my stepfather, and pushed him out of the apartment. I had been working for a gay couple where one of the partners was so self-loathing that he routinely beat the other one. Both bought vodka by the gallon and were blitz more often than not. My mother and I were doing door-to-door solicitations for their rinky-dink curb number painting business; riding in the back of their pick-up to get dropped off in neighborhoods to canvass. None of us were making enough money for it to be sustainable, and my mother finally packed-up to go live with her father for a while. I went back to live with a drug dealer who was a friend of the family, and the guys gave me their curb painting supplies. Since I didn’t have a car, I’d walk as far as I could, then canvass a neighborhood. The next day I’d walk back with a bucket full of paint, stencils, and spray ink. I subsisted almost exclusively off Ramen noodles, and stank of the broth as I sweat in the Texas sun. Meanwhile, the dealer kept getting high on her own supply to the point where she could barely function anymore. I mean, me and her daughter having to sop up her liquid shit out of the carpet as she stumbled precariously to the bathroom levels of dysfunction.

    Along comes “Mr. Jones.” I really liked the song at first, because it reminded me of the old storytelling country songs of the ’50s & ’60s. I liked that it referenced Bob Dylan, and related to the modest and not-so-modest aspirations of the narrator. These were the days between the death of song lyric magazines and the birth of the internet, so it took a little effort to parse out the song. While I appreciated some of the sentiments in the song, the more I scratched at the lyrics, the less deep they seemed. The off-key, whiny singing style started to grate. Most importantly though, all I had to entertain me during those long workdays was a Walkman, tuned to local radio, which played “Mr. Jones” roughly every hour for the duration of 1994. Between the overexposure and the memories of that time, the unforgetabble opening strains and Duritz’s moaning scat trigger a sense of dread in me every time I hear it.

    As I was first beginning to turn on “Mr. Jones,” next came “Round Here.” I feel that one. But then “Einstein on the Beach (For an Eggman),” the sort of fluff that helped kill the alternative scene by steering it hard into adult contemporary. “Rain King” doubled down on Mopey and the Blowjobs. “A Murder of One” was blessedly just background noise, and praise His name, the rest of their releases when I still listened to the radio were perpetual sophomore slumping. “Angels of the Silences” rocked enough to enter the Pearl Jam end of the spectrum, while “Daylight Fading” was more gin than blossom. “Hanginaround” was pleasantly forgettable Dave Matthewsing.

    A few years ago, I ended up with a rip of “Films About Ghosts.” Probably my father bought it, and he always complains about ’80s & ’90s music, so I figure Counting Crows could only reinforce his prejudice. Anyway, I dropped it into an MP3 player while I worked a few overnight shifts and gave it multiple spins. My takeaway was that I was not just bandwagon jumping, but legitimately could not stand these guys and had already heard most of these songs far too many times in this life. However, their other truly great number is “A Long December.”

    But see, the other thing I remember about “A Long December” is how beautiful Courtney Cox looked in the music video. And then about how she dated Adam Duritz and his guaranteed stinky white boy dreadlocks. I think about for all his affectations, he was born into affluence and has been dumped by enough A-list goddesses than you could pack into a high end convention. And I know he has mental health issues and behavioral problems and his life isn’t all peaches and herb. But then I look back at my life, and what I had to go through to get out of the place “Mr. Jones” found me in, and all I can say is fuck Counting Crows forever. Yes, it is envy, and bitterness, and my own inability to move past issues. But also, they fucking suuuuuuuck.

  7. Fairly anonymous ’70s throwback light pop, but “The Way” was an instant classic. I also like “Out Of My Head,” “Which Way To the Top,” and “Fire Escape”

  8. This is gonna sound kinda strange… but I really dug this episode and I’m NOT a counting crows fan. I always found Adam Duritz’s voice kind of annoying and found their radio hits rather forgettable so I never invested the time or money into a deeper dive of their material (although I will say that “When I Dream of Michaelangelo” is fucking beautiful)!

    But I think the fact that I’m not a fan is precisely why I liked this discussion. I love having my opinion challenged and am open-minded enough to consider others’ perspectives that differ from my own. So I loved hearing what you both liked about them, what the songs were about, and when, why, and how they resonated with you personally.

    Now I don’t know if I’m gonna rush out and download a playlist of their albums. But I can say I have a new appreciation and respect for Duritz as a lyricist. And the fact that he suffers from a personality disorder (of which I had no idea) makes his words all the more impressive and interesting. That story was fascinating.

    So bravo, guys. Good show!

  9. Ohhhh man … where do I start? Outstanding episode! Counting Crows has been a favorite band of mine since the early 1990s, even though I’m sure I caught some shit for liking them when I was in high school.

    I’ve only seen them once, though (Jones Beach, 1997, with The Wallflowers), but I loved “August and Everything After” so much I bought the book of sheet music so I could play “Raining in Baltimore” on the piano, so I guess that counts for something.

    I also had no idea that they had released an album in 2014. The last album I bought was “Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings,” which I gave a few listens but then filed away and only ripped two songs to my iPod. I’ll have to give that, and the most recent album a spin.

    Anyway, two songs I thought of that weren’t on your lists but could make mine: “Anna Begins” and “Einstein on the Beach”. I find the former beautiful on the level of “Something” or “God Only Knows”; I love the latter for the pure nostalgia of only being able to hear it on the radio until the day in 1999 when I discovered Napster and it was the first Mp3 I downloaded illegally.

    Oh, and an honorable mention to the song “August and Everything After,” which sounds like Duritz is perpetually working on it.

    Again, great ep. And if anyone wants to hear me talk CC, my friend chelle and I covered “August and Everything After” on episode 19 of Pop Culture Affidavit (

    1. “Anna Begins” was on the first list that Sean gave me of possible songs. Blame me for holding him to five songs only otherwise I’m sure he would’ve had a lot to say about it.

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