February 15, 2011

sunset’s just my lightbulb burning out


I’ve long had loud, clattery, live cover versions of this song in my arsenal of cry-into-your-coffee music, but thankfully Adam Duritz sat himself down in a quiet room with his piano and a will last week to record a bunch of Valentine’s Day cover songs, and this was the fruit.

Oh My Sweet Carolina (Ryan Adams) – Adam Duritz

Other songs he posted for download last week included versions of material from Steve Earle, Tom Waits, and Bob Dylan. God bless the internet and prolific musicians at home.

September 24, 2008

August and everything after

I had plans tonight to go see Counting Crows play Fiddlers Green in this gorgeous Indian summer twilight, and looking forward to it greatly — but life conspired against me. This is a song I’ve been wanting to post for a long time, the title track from their debut album that never made it on the record, but whose lyrics can be seen scrawled all over the cover:

August and Everything After (live) – Counting Crows

Tagged with .
February 9, 2008

Counting Crows on WXPN/World Cafe Friday

Yesterday afternoon, the Counting Crows played a tough-to-get-into set on the WXPN World Cafe stage in Philadelphia. According to a friend who was there: “Adam was incredible . . . There was magic in the room. [They were] really gracious and thankful to be offered the opportunity to do this. What a day here.”

The Crows played eight songs from their forthcoming album Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings; this is the widest look into their new work that we’ve gotten yet.

There are four songs from Saturday Nights, four from Sunday Mornings, and Adam introduces each one with an in-depth commentary on the story behind the song, and revealing the threads that tie it to other songs in the Counting Crows back catalog. It’s a pretty neat way to have a first listen to an album, like they’re sitting in your living room walking you through it. Have yourself a listen:

Live on WXPN/WORLD CAFE Philadelphia
Hanging Tree
When I Dream of Michelangelo
You Can’t Count on Me
Washington Square
Come Around


[Photo by WXPN, Luke Auld-Thomas]

January 16, 2008

New from Counting Crows, crossing our fingers

Berkeley band Counting Crows remain firmly ensconced in my top bands close to my heart, having soundtracked a good portion of my life. They are planning to release their fifth studio album Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings on March 25 through Geffen/Interscope. As previously mentioned, the two-part album is divided into the louder and fiercer “Saturday Nights” first half which was produced by Gil Norton (The Pixies/Foo Fighters), and the acoustic “Sunday Mornings” finish with Brian Deck overseeing the controls (Josh Ritter, Iron & Wine, Modest Mouse).

Adam Duritz (who has recently lost 50 lbs and is looking good) shared some thoughts about the album: “[It's] about dissolution and disintegration. It’s about when Saturday night happens and you lose all sense of yourself. And it’s about when you wake up Sunday morning and look back at the wreck you’ve made of your life and you think, ‘How can I possibly fix this? How can I ever climb out of this hole?’ And then you start to try and climb.”

He also notes, “Our album may not have much redemption in the end but we got all the sin I could live with and at least an attempt to try for something better.”

. . . for your Saturday night:
1492 – Counting Crows

. . . and your Sunday morning:
When I Dream of Michelangelo – Counting Crows

That last tune is certainly an interesting one, whole-cloth revisiting and reincorporating a lyric and a sentiment from another one of my favorite tunes, “Angels of the Silences” from 1996′s Recovering the Satellites.

From a personal standpoint, the sensual strength of his figures and his surprising use of color make Michelangelo my all-time favorite artist. My best semester ever included taking a breathtakingly in-depth course on all of his known works while I was studying abroad in Florence. Therefore, I’ve always smiled wider at that lyric, “I dream of Michelangelo when I’m lying in my bed,” than any other one because that action and that thought is one of the best feelings ever — because I’ve done it. I never thought I’d hear that line again in a new song. I am excited about this album, hoping for really amazing things that I know they are capable of.

December 7, 2007

3500 miles away and what would you change if you could?

I’ve been intending to post this song, but all of a sudden it has now taken on more gravitas to me and I’ve been listening to it quite a bit. I am back out in California again after a very last-minute late-night flight out, my uncle is seriously and unexpectedly sick in the critical care unit at the hospital. It’s raining in Santa Clara. Tubes and wires and beeping and I feel completely overwhelmed with what I can do except hold his hand and stroke his unconscious forehead. Even though I am 28 I feel like an ill-equipped kid even being in the ICU, like someone’s going to say “Excuse me sweetheart, no one under 14 allowed.” Sometimes I talk to him, about anything, about everything. Preschool Christmas concerts, recent trips, insignificant anecdotes. If I felt brave I guess I could sing, he’s always liked to hear his nieces sing.

Brandi Carlile covered “Raining in Baltimore” by the Counting Crows at a recent show Birmingham, much to my delight. This somber, underrated, poetic tune from the Counting Crows’ first album is one of my favorites. While her treatment of it is pretty faithful, the emotion in her voice belies a genuine love for the song and the mournful cello addition strikes a chord with me:

Raining In Baltimore (Counting Crows cover) – Brandi Carlile

This circus is falling down on its knees
The big top is crumbling down
It’s raining in Baltimore fifty miles east
Where you should be, no one’s around

I need a phone call
I need a raincoat
I need a big love
I need a phone call

These train conversations are passing me by
And I don’t have nothing to say
You get what you pay for
But I just had no intention of living this way

I need a phone call
I need a plane ride
I need a sunburn
I need a raincoat

And I get no answers
And I don’t get no change
It’s raining in Baltimore, baby
But everything else is the same

There’s things I remember and things I forget
I miss you
I guess that I should
Three thousand five hundred miles away
But what would you change if you could

I need a phone call
Maybe I should buy a new car
I can always hear the freight train
Baby if I listen real hard
And I wish, I wish it was a small world
Because I’m lonely for the big towns
I’d like to hear a little guitar
I guess it’s time to put the top down

I need a phone call
I need a raincoat


September 29, 2007

Odds & ends

On this lovely slow Saturday I am making up a big pot of Dill Turkey Chowder (recipe pretty much like this except I use garlic pepper) and the simmering smells are already fantastic. It’s been a week like that — a lot of interesting thoughts simmering in the back of my mind with no real time to write about them or enjoy. So since it’s Saturday, here’s what I’ve been noticing lately:

Ûž Nil Lara. I still get more comments on this guy, on the single post I wrote back for a previous World Music Wednesday, than almost any other ongoing topic. People across the world love this guy, miss his music, and wonder what he’s been up to. He’s been playing a series of monthly shows down in Florida, much to the joy of many fans, but the great news is that the Yanks get 2 doses of him next month!

Nil Lara has just announced two shows in New York City at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village, Nov 17th @ 8pm and Nov 19th @ 7:30pm. I’d love to see this guy; I’ll be in NYC a few weeks before that for the last weekend in October to see some best girlfriends, but I’ll miss this show unfortunately.

Ûž There’s a new audio interview with Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready from Tacoma, Washington’s News Tribune.

Listen to Mike talk about his reaction to the AT&T censoring of the Lollapalooza webcast, Italian fans and the new DVD, director Danny Clinch, and even some on The Scorpions & Iron Maiden. Rock on.

Ûž The Onion made me laugh with this fantastic “news brief”:

Google Launches ‘The Google’ For Older Adults
September 26, 2007
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA—The popular search engine Google announced plans Friday to launch a new site, TheGoogle.com, to appeal to older adults not able to navigate the original website’s single text field and two clearly marked buttons.

Read the rest

Ûž The new Counting Crows album, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, will be delayed in its release until 2008. According to Adam Duritz’s blog:

Update 9/27/07 – “Town Hall, Old Memories, and New Delays”
Greenwich Village, New York City, 10am

. . . This will frustrate some of you I’m sure, and I apologize for that, but we’ve gone to Geffen and asked to push back the release date of Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings until sometime after the New Year.

It was just a crazy busy summer. Between all the touring and the traveling and the mixing and mastering of the new album and putting the together the package and writing all the essays for the August… reissue, we just let some little things fall through the cracks. The record itself is finished but we just did the photo shoot a few weeks ago, the art and packaging deadlines were last week, and, even putting in 20 hr days, it was just impossible to get it all done. There are videos and singles and so many things to decide on and finish and it’s just not the time in our career to be rushing important decisions. Actually, in my opinion, it’s never the right time to rush important decisions. We really try to make records that last forever. I don’t see the point in putting all the work in to do that and then not having the right cover or picking the wrong single or making the wrong video. They’re small things, I guess, but they matter to me and they’re just a few of many.

It’s a tough pill for our record company to swallow. Especially in this day and age, it’s not easy to ask them to postpone a Counting Crows album that would have been on sale for fall and through the Xmas season. Someone somewhere will not be happy with them. Luckily for us, the people we deal with at our label ARE music people and they know that our partnership with Geffen has been a marathon, not a sprint. We haven’t been around together all these years because we were worried about a few months.

Anyway, that’s THAT bit of news. I know it’s a bit of a disappointment but, like I said to all of you the other day, “Remind me never to put out two albums at the same time again.”

I recommend streaming the song that Adam has posted on his MySpace, called “Bleed.” Best as I can tell, it is a song written by Stew/The Negro Problem, and this is a live collaboration with Adam. The lyrics are pretty rich. I’d post it here, but . . . well, you know.

Ûž Finally, the Ike Reilly Assassination show was as mindblowing as I had hoped on Thursday night at the Larimer Lounge.

I voraciously dig the blistering rock songs with a punkish-retro edge, with some of the finest attention to lyrical detail and “flow” of any modern songwriter today. Johnny Hickman (founding member of Cracker) joined Ike for the gig, as Johnny is a local Coloradan now, and they were clearly enjoying themselves. I was particularly riveted by the performance of “The Mixture” (off 2005′s Junkie Faithful) — an incredible, soulful, brutal, unflinchingly introspective, raw tune that I am listening to on repeat these last two days. It goes deeper each time I hear it.

“Girl don’t like the mixture in me,
the liquid in me, the fiction it frees
the liquor in me, the Mick in me,
the fried-out lies for eyes she sees

…Girl don’t like the distance in me,
the danger in me, the sickness in me
the stranger in me, the quickness in me,
the shiftlessness and shift in me

…Girl don’t like the greed in me,
the speed in me, her need for me
the weed in me, the dealer in me,
the schemer in me, the dreamer in me

…Girl don’t like the fader in me,
the invader in me, the penetrator in me
the not-quite-fade-awayer in me,
the I will see you later in me

But stay with me anyway
I’m a brand new believer
I went to the tomb without you
And they wouldn’t receive me, no no no
And they wouldn’t receive me, no no no
And they wouldn’t receive me…

Where were you when the wheels fell off in Birmingham?
Where were you when I shed my skin in vain?
Where were you when we slid right off the motorway?

Maybe you stepped away, took a vacation day
You said a day with me is a night you’ve wasted

Where were you?”

The Mixture – Ike Reilly Assassination

The picture above is by Denver photographer Doug Beam from his fine set taken at the show. Quite an unforgettable night.

August 7, 2007

No, you didn’t read this wrong: NEW song from Counting Crows! “Come Around”

Today is a day I’ve been waiting for since July 9, 2002 — the day that Counting Crows last studio album Hard Candy came out, and the last time I heard anything new from them (Shrek soundtracks notwithstanding). It’s a NEW SONG from this Berkeley band that I’ve long adored!

Usually I close pop-ups, I block them outright, I don’t look at them. But thanks to a little tipster in my inbox, I visited CountingCrows.com and let the pop-up of a Cracker Jack box advertising their summer tour appear and do its flash animation thing and wait and wait . . . until finally I got the prize – the first listen mp3 download off their upcoming album, Saturday Nights, Sunday Mornings (due November 6th)! The opening notes sound bit Maggie May-ish, no? After listening to it seven times, I’m gonna fall firmly into the “love it” camp:

Come Around – Counting Crows
(link removed due to band request – apparently there was some miscommunication about what to release to the masses and I got caught in the middle, cozy with the RIAA. Stream the archived track on Hype Machine)

Saturday Nights, Sunday Mornings was recorded as a two-part concept album. The Saturday Nights half was recorded New York City, and Adam Duritz says, “Saturday night is when you sin and Sunday is when you regret. Sinning is often done very loudly, angrily, bitterly, violently.”

Sunday Mornings (the acoustic regretful half) was laid down in Berkeley with Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Josh Ritter), and the whole shebang is currently being mixed and finished in NYC. The producer for this album is Gil Norton, who also worked with them on Recovering The Satellites.

Here’s a live version of one other new song that will be on the album, and old b-side that’s been kicking around for years. It’s an acoustic ballad called “Washington Square” (a lovely, lovely place in San Francisco, also immortalized in the Chris Isaak song of the same name, one of my favorites by him). This will be the first song on the Sunday Mornings half of the record:

Washington Square (live 8/4/07) – Counting Crows

Come on November 6th!

May 26, 2007

Your ’90s Nostalgia summer tour

Counting Crows is heading out on the road this summer in support of their new album coming out this fall, which is in the mixing stages at the moment. They will be reprising their double bill with Live — I saw this same pairing on the tour for This Desert Life at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, and that was just when Ed Kowalczyk was hitting his full rap-rock stride (complete with crotch-gesturing, which he has now perfected into a veritable art form).

It was actually a really good show (I remember Adam running out on stage to sing with Ed on “Dolphin’s Cry” and I think Ed returned the favor during the Crows’ set as well). If they announce another leg of this tour (nothing this far West yet) I will probably go if it isn’t too expensive.

You know I love Counting Crows, and have never really grown tired of Live. I absolutely wore out their Throwing Copper album in high school, and even though Secret Samadhi was a little uneven, they struck gold again my book with The Distance To Here. I just love their strong and soaring, melodic-rock sound.

Collective Soul and Third Eye Blind will also be joining the tour for most dates. I don’t especially ascribe to either of these groups (which is why I only have covers from them to post below), but allegedly the lead singer of 3EB is a foxy, foxy man in concert. Duritz writes, “What you may not know is that on Saturday, May 21st, 1994, Third Eye Blind played their 1st show ever, opening for Counting Crows at the historic Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. We’ve never toured with Collective Soul before, but we’ve played festivals together and…well, they’re just a great band.”

The tour will be hitting minor-league ballparks across the nation in smaller towns and communities (speaking of which – I am going to a Colorado Sky Sox game tomorrow on a package with free food and free beer until the 7th inning . . . no better way to spend Memorial Day? ). This is an interesting idea for a tour — and just in case there was any lingering question who the primary audience now is for Counting Crows, children under 12 are free at all shows on this tour. Ha.

Einstein On The Beach – Counting Crows
They Stood Up For Love – Live
Train in Vain (Clash cover) – Third Eye Blind
Jealous Guy (Lennon cover) – Collective Soul

July 22nd – Daniel S. Frawley Stadium in Wilmington, DE

Home of the Blue Rocks
July 24th – Classic Park in Eastlake, OH
Home of the Lake County Captains
July 25th – Consol Energy Park in Washington, PA
Home of the Wild Things
July 27th – Fifth Third Field in Dayton, OH
Home of the Dragons
July 28th – Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, MI
Home of the West Michigan Whitecaps
July 31st – Jerry Uht Park in Erie, PA
Home of the Seawolves
August 1st – Dunne Tire Park in Buffalo, NY
Home of the Bisons
August 3rd – Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, KY
Home of the Bats
August 4th – Victory Field in Indianapolis, IN
Home of the Indians
August 7th – GCS Ballpark in Sauget, IL
Home of the Gateway Grizzlies
August 8th – Drillers Stadium in Tulsa, OK
Home of the Drillers
August 10th – Sedalia, MO – without Live/Collective Soul or 3EB
August 11th – Principal Park in Des Moines, IA
Home of the Iowa Cubs
August 14th – Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, MD
Home of the Ironbirds
August 15th – Harry Grove Stadium in Frederick, MD
Home of the Keys
August 17th – MerchantsAuto.com Stadium in Manchester, NH
Home of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats
August 18th – New Britain Stadium in New Britain, CT
Home of the Rock Cats
August 21st – Blair County Ballpark in Altoona, PA
(“all that moisture’s gonna push off towards Altoona“)
Home of the Curve
August 22nd – First Energy Park in Lakewood, NJ
Home of the BlueClaws
August 24th – McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, RI
Home of the Paw Sox
August 25th – Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls, NY
Home of the Hudson Valley Renegades
August 27th – Syracuse, NY – without Live/Collective Soul or 3EB
August 28th – Allentown, PA- without Live/Collective Soul or 3EB
August 30th – Memorial Stadium in Ft. Wayne, IN
Home of the Wizards
September 1st – Midway Stadium in St. Paul, MN
Home of the Saints
September 2nd – Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo, ND
Home of the Redhawks

May 10, 2007

Under the covers with the Counting Crows

It’s been raining covers and rarities on the Counting Crows‘ MySpace page lately, and right now they’ve got up 4 great studio tracks from their so-called “Under The Covers” sessions. Their distinctive touch on each of these songs is thoroughly enjoyable, even on the Rod Stewart/Faces ditty (a man who, in general, I cannot abide, due to flagrant violations such as these).

Adam Duritz fills us in:

To celebrate what a great week we had in the studio, I decided this was going to be Covers Week on our Myspace page, so all the songs will be from the unreleased “Under The Covers” we recorded by ourselves one weekend during the “Hard Candy” sessions when Lilywhite was out of town.

We got “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”, a Bob Dylan song from the Basement Tapes sessions. It was also recorded by the Byrds on the album “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo” album. I have no idea what the hell this song is about. It’s one of those Dylan songs where the lyric is so good that it doesn’t even matter that none of the words seem to make any sense at all. Fucking nonsense as far as I can tell but somehow it still makes total sense to me. We got the fucker in one tape, as you will hear me clearly state at the end of the song. You try and pull that shit off.

Next up is “Ooh La La” by The Faces from the album of the same name. The Faces of course featured Rod Stewart on lead vocals, Ron Wood (later of The Rolling Stones on guitar), Kenny Jones (later the drummer for The Who) on the kit, Ronnie Lane on bass, and Ian McLagan on piano (also a member of the Stones, albeit an unofficial one). “Ooh La La” was one of the rare songs written and sung by Ronnie Lane. If It seems familiar, it may be because it is the song that closes the film “Rushmore”.

On our version, Rod Stewart was unavailable so I sang the vocals but the rest of the instrument are still played by the The Faces……or are they? We were having a lot of fun recording this track. You can tell because I just don’t seem to want to end the damn song. The body of the song is only 2:40 but the last chorus goes on for almost another two full minutes because I simply refuse to stop and keep calling for everyone to go around another time.

We had the same problem ending “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”. I may have been a little hammered by this time. It’s only fitting, after all. When The Faces released their big box set a couple years ago, they (rather fittingly) called it “Five Guys Walk Into A Bar… “.

Then we have “Start Again”, maybe my favorite song by one of my favorite bands, the wonderful Scottish band Teenage Fanclub. It’s cut from their album, my favorite of theirs, “Songs From Northern Britain”. We decided to cut it with lots of harmonies and acoustic guitars as if it was a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song. It’s probably my favorite track on “Under The Covers”. Me and Dan just sing the shit out of it and when Immy adds the high harmony, the song just soars. Plus this song features my one and only piano solo on record.

Lastly, but certainly not least, is our version of the great Jackson C Frank tune “Blues Run The Game”. This one is just me and Immy. Jackson Frank was a friend and peer of Paul Simon, Nick Drake, Sandy Denny (of Fairport Convention), and Richard Thompson. Legend has it they all shared a flat together in London in the very early 60′s. When Simon left to return to America and formed Simon and Garfunkel, they recorded “Blues Run The Game” for one of their 1st albums. It turned out great but for some reason didn’t make the cut and was left off the album. It turned up years later on a Simon and Garfunkel box set called “Bookends”, which is where I first heard it. Immy and I have played it many times in concert but I don’t think we’ve ever again captured the pure emotional magic of the first perfect performance.

Nothing on “Under The Covers” overdubbed or comped together. All these songs were recorded live and this is exactly how they sounded. We recorded live and we recorded fast. I think we did 14 songs in 2 days.

Dig it cats, these are the songs we love. Hope you love ‘em too.

You Ain’t Going Nowhere (Dylan cover) – Counting Crows

Ooh La La (Faces cover) – Counting Crows

Blues Run The Game (Jackson Frank cover) – Counting Crows

Start Again (Teenage Fanclub cover) – Counting Crows

My PS – I think I prefer the breathless purity-of-the-moment with this live version of Blues Run The Game, even though I can’t complain on the good studio version:

Blues Run The Game (live) – Counting Crows

March 21, 2007

Odds & ends

It’s been a long time since I compiled one of these odds and ends posts, but there were several little things today that caught my eye:

Ûž Brian Deck is on board to produce the new Counting Crows record, according to Adam:

March 16, 2007 12:53am
Berkeley, CA

Rehearsals have been going really well the past few days. I’m pretty excited about the 2nd half of this record. I really dig the producer we’ve chosen. His name’s Brian Deck. He produced “The Moon and Antarctica” for Modest Mouse, “Our Endless Numbered Days” for Iron and Wine, “The Animal Years” for Josh Ritter, and this album I love by the Fruit Bats called “Mouthfuls”. We’re getting really cool weird twisted folksy sounds.

Ûž Paul McCartney is set to release a new album this summer, the inaugural release for new Starbucks label.

I drink Starbucks. I love McCartney. But why does this just feel so dirty and somehow depressing?

Ûž Mason Jennings has a new blog post that starts with the sentence, “Did you ever just get so high that you wrote on your arm never to smoke weed again? Me neither.” It goes on to discuss music he likes and life in general lately for him, but opening sentences don’t get much more engaging than that one.

Ûž I truly love the new Hold Steady video for “Stuck Between Stations.” That is a dang fine song, and since I haven’t caught them live yet, I’ve never seen it performed, seen the way they jolt out their music.

Incidentally, I think their piano player may actually be Oliver, Kat‘s husband from Miami Ink. Rock the ‘stache, dude.

Ûž SPIN tries to deconstruct the method behind Ryan Adams‘ crazy, internet-facilitated, musical-diarrhea madness.

Ûž Pete Yorn‘s cousin/merch man/video whiz Maxx updates Pete’s MySpace friends with setlists and excellent pictures from the road. The most recent post has a haiku to match each photograph, and is a must-read. I laughed out loud at a few:

sid is funnier
when he’s not wearing his clothes
but someone else’s

simon is undead
he will eat your flesh
even from the stage

Ûž SXSW. Most of the SXSW coverage from my fellow bloggers seems like drinking out of a firehose, and I am not able to fully absorb all of it yet (although I am trying). This, however, was one show that I had read about and found video for — very cool. Pete Townshend was at the fest to speak at a panel and joined British buzz band The Fratellis for a cool little cover of The Who’s “The Seeker”:

And the best picture that I’ve seen so far from SXSW was taken by my friend Brian H., who has been regularly updating me with more pics and details than you can shake a stick at (thanks!). I don’t know the story behind this shot, but I thought it was cool how it speaks to the environment of total musical domination in Austin these past few days:

Rock ‘n roll.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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