"Mr. Jones" was one of those great Rock songs that show up every now and then. A song that has the one-two punch of driving Rock and potent lyrics. Lead singer Adam Duritz's line about staring at the TV and have his image staring back was both clever and startling. Influenced by the Band and Van Morrison, Duritz and rhythm guitarist David Bryson began as duo. After a failed recording project Dan Vickrey (lead guitar), Charlie Gillingham (keyboards), Matt Malley (bass) and Steve Bowman (drums) were added.
The band hit the northern California club circuit and recorded a demo of Duritz written songs that found its way to DGC Records. Signed by the label, "August and Everything After" containing "Mr. Jones" was the debut. The set also included the mournful "Round Here" and "Rain King." The band seemed to be on everyone's awards list and they walked away with several honors from the usual self-congratulatory sources (Grammy Awards, MTV, etc.). But success brought its own troubles. First, Bowman departed, replaced by Ben Mize, and Duritz suffered a nervous breakdown (reportedly not his first).
In '96, "Recovering The Satellites" shot to the top of the album charts. The haunting "Long December" was the outstanding track. It also claimed an MTV Video award. Counting Crows toured heavily through '97 with the Wallflowers as the opening act. Yet they found time to record a VH1 Storytellers show. The performance made up half of the double CD "Across The Wire-Live In New York. The other CD was recorded at The Ten Spot club. Counting Crows also contributed a song ("Colorblind") to the Cruel Intentions soundtrack.
Though they added guitarist/multi-instrumentalist David Immergluck, '99 release "This Desert Life" failed to generate much excitement which may have led to the group to consider broadening its audience.
After a Pepsi commercial (a walk on the beach where they looked genuinely uncomfortable invading Britney Spears' turf) the Counting Crows released "Hard Candy." Maybe they should have named it "Liquid Candy."
The "Hard Candy" tour saw the departure of Mize who left to log some family time and work on projects of greater interest. Jim Bogios, a veteran of Ben Folds Five ("Brick") and Sheryl Crow's band (seems Crows show up in Jim's life), took over.
The Crows landed a soundtrack credit when "Accidentally In Love" appeared in the animated Shrek 2. It even earned an Oscar nomination (good, but not real good, since movie songs are usually horrible). It lost to "Al Otro Lado Del Rio" from The Motorcycle Dairies.
With the completion of the "Hard Candy" tour Malley bailed. Another Ben Folds Five alum, Millard Powers filled in. '06's "New Amsterdam: Live At Heineken Music Hall" culled performances from the "Hard Candy" tour.
With producer Gil Norton ("Recovering The Satellites") the Counting Crows recorded "Saturday Nights And Sunday Mornings." "Saturday night is when you sin and Sunday is when you regret," observed Duritz. "Sinning is often done very loudly, angrily, bitterly, violently." The group released a free downloadable digital EP on their web-site in advance of the album's release.
Containing the lead single "You Can't Count On Me," "Saturday Nights And Sunday Mornings" arrived in March, '08. After that album, the Crows left Geffen Records and their subsequent tour had a decidedly non-corporate feel.
The Saturday Night Rebel Rockers Traveling Circus and Medicine Show opened each night with the Counting Crows - the headliner. Musicians in the supporting bands, Spearhead and/or Augustana, would be onstage too. The short Crows set would be followed by longer sets by the supporting bands (often with Crows' members participating). That was followed by an even longer Crows set.
With the tour done, Duritz released a seven song solo EP online titled, "All My Bloody Valentines," while Vickery and Bogios recorded "Tender Mercies," their side project's self-titled debut.
"August And Everything After: Live At Town Hall," the Counting Crows third official live album but first concert video, dropped in '11. One year later, the group issued "Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation)." The covers set included renditions of Gram Parson's "Return Of The Grievous Angel," the Faces "Oh La La" and Pure Prairie League's "Amie."
The live "Echoes Of The Outlaw Roadshow," taken from performances throughout the previous year's festival tour, was released in '13. Work on "Somewhere Under Wonderland" also began that year.
On the way to the album's completion, the group signed with Capitol Records and rolled out the lead single "Palisades Park."
1993 August and Everything After
1996 Recovering the Satellites
1999 This Desert Life
2002 Hard Candy
2008 Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings
2012 Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation)
2014 Somewhere Under Wonderland
The Counting Crows' "Mr. Jones," with a character based loosely on Bob Dylan's "Ballad Of A Thin Man," the melancholy "Round Here" and "Rain King" are on "August And Everything After." The follow up, "Recovering The Satellites," is another excellent set with the uptempo "Daylight Fading" and two exceptional slow songs (they're not really ballads) "Angels Of The Silences" and "Long December."