Lyrically Speaking: Counting Crows' 'Round Here'
It’s not often that I feature a hit song in a Lyrically Speaking entry. It’s not that I have anything against hits, it’s just that usually even an artist with a hit has better songs than the one that gets the most airplay on the radio. And that’s probably the case here with the Counting Crows‘ “Round Here” from their debut album, “August and Everything After.” I’m a fan of the band, but not a super big one, so I don’t know all the albums, all the tunes (and I admit I should spend more time listening to them).
But I do know that whenever this song comes on when I’m in the car, I always listen… and sing along with the lyrics. And it always gets me thinking about the characters in the song: They sound vulnerable, lost, searching for meaning in life.
Adam Duritz’s voice is an amazing musical tool, unleashing emotions in the wavering of his voice. I have a couple acoustic versions of the song that just send shivers up my spine in the beauty of the lyrics, stripped of its original sonic backing. Duritz, in those songs as I’m sure he does on most occasions live in concert, improvises some of the lines adding nuance and new meaning to the tune.
What will happen to Maria? is this the same Maria who is mentioned in the opening of “Mr. Jones”? Duritz sings: “Maria came from Nashville with a suitcase in her hand/She said she’d like to meet a boy who looks like Elvis/And she walks along the edge of where the ocean meets the land/Just like she’s walking on a wire in the circus/She parks her car outside of my house and takes her clothes off/She says she’s close to understanding Jesus/And she knows she’s more than just a little misunderstood/She has trouble acting normal when she’s nervous.” The words tumble out. It’s A lot to take in. But by the end we feel for her, wonder what will become of her.
And what about the guy who’s telling the story? Duritz explains it this way: “The song begins with a guy walking out the front door of his house, and leaving behind this woman . But the more he begins to leave people behind in his life, the more he feels like he’s leaving himself behind as well. The less and less substantial he feels like he’s becoming to himself. And that’s sorta what the song’s about because he feels that even as he disappears from the lives of people, he’s disappearing more and more from his own life.”
I love driving in the car singing the chorus at the top of my lungs (windows closed, of course!): “Round here she’s always on my mind/Round here hey man got lots of time/Round here we’re never sent to bed early/and nobody makes us wait/Round here we stay up very, very, very, very late oh/I can’t see nothing… nothing round here.”
Step out the front door like a ghost Into the fog where no one notices The contrast of white on white. And in between the moon and you Angels get a better view Of the crumbling difference between wrong and right. And I walk in the air between the rain, through myself and back again Where? I don’t know Well, Maria says she’s dying Through the door I hear her crying Why? I don’t know
Round here, we always stand up straight Round here, something radiates
Maria came from Nashville with a suitcase in her hand She said she’d like to meet a boy who looks like Elvis And she walks along the edge of where the ocean meets the land Just like she’s walking on a wire in the circus She parks her car outside of my house and takes her clothes off. She says she’s close to understanding Jesus And she knows she’s more than just a little misunderstood She has trouble acting normal when she’s nervous
Round here we’re carving out our names Round here we all look the same Round here we talk just like lions But we sacrifice like lambs Round here she’s slipping through my hands
Run home, sleeping children better run like the wind out of the lightning dream Mama’s little baby better get herself in out of the lightning She says “it’s only in my head” She says “Shhhhh I know it’s only in my head” But the girl in the car in the parking lot Says “Man you should try to take a shot Can’t you see my walls are crumbling?” Then she looks up at the building Says she’s thinking of jumping She says she’s tired of life She must be tired of something
Round here she’s always on my mind Round here hey man got lots of time Round here we’re never sent to bed early and nobody makes us wait Round here we stay up very, very, very, very late oh I can’t see nothing… nothing round here Will you catch me if I’m falling Will you catch me if I’m falling Will you catch me cause I’m falling down on you I said I’m under the gun around here I’m innocent, I’m under the gun around here And I can’t see nothing Nothing round here