"When we did the interview for "Rolling Stone" I walked with David Wilde into the Musée d'Orsay in Paris one day and the first thing that happened was these two kids ran up to us and said, "Hey! You're the guy from Counting Crows, right?" And I said, 'yeah.' And he said, "Is Mr. Jones about your dick?"


In March of 1994, Counting Crows released the first single from their debut album, August and Everything After. A catchy tune, Mr. Jones was quickly added to radio play lists around the world. Counting Crows were suddenly famous - the single was selling thousands of copies, and the album was walking out the door in record stores.

Probably one of the most radio friendly songs from the album, it's not difficult to see why this song was chosen as the first single released. I wonder now, if Counting Crows - and Adam Duritz in particular - could have that time again, whether they'd still choose Mr. Jones to introduce their band to the world?


"This is a song that has been misinterpreted greatly, to say the least. I think people too often look for symbolism in songs when they're simpler than they seem. This, in particular, is much simpler than it must seem to a lot of people."


Counting Crows the band, and Adam Duritz the man, are vastly different animals to what they were in 1994. Mr. Jones was written before the band had realised the fame that would come to them, at a time when its writer, Adam Duritz was a struggling singer and songwriter, dreaming of fame and fortune. No different to any other aspiring artist, he dreamt of being famous, and having all the things that come along with such prominence. Escaping the drudgery of everyday life, and finding something that you believe will change everything.


'Ah man, when everybody loves me, I hope I never get lonely...'


Mr. Jones became the song that everybody wanted to hear - for a lot of people, the name Counting Crows would have formed an instant association with this song. It's easy to see how a band could become sick to death of a song such as this. Not only because people wanted to hear it, every time they played, but because something more significant was going on in the life of Adam Duritz. Counting Crows shot to fame, and the dreams expressed in Mr. Jones were coming true.

But the loneliness remained.

And every time the band played, people would be screaming for a song that expressed a hope he no longer believed in. It was still played, still sung, but how could you give a song like this everything, when you knew that so many of the dreams expressed through it's words hadn't come true? Many bands would probably quietly let this song fall off their set list, despite the protests of fans. However Counting Crows have an incredible way of morphing their music, particularly through vocal improvisation and modification. In 1998, Counting Crows released a double cd of live music, Across a Wire, Live in New York. The first cd from this double cd set was recorded live for VH1 Storytellers, and the version of Mr. Jones is vastly different to any version of this song heard before. Not only in it's sound - it's a stripped down, acoustic version - but also lyrical content.


So believe in me, I don't believe in anything, and I don't wanna be someone to believe
You should not believe in me...


This version of Mr. Jones is by far my favourite version, and while the lyrics are mainly the same as the original, the changes speak volumes about the changed attitude, and thoughts, of Adam Duritz. With a totally different feel - slower, and contemplative. Mr. Jones is a song about dreams. Mr. Jones, recorded in 1998 for Storytellers, is about realising that you no longer wish to live up to the realisation of those same dreams.


Well man, when everybody loves you, sometimes, that's just about as fucked up as you can be...







Adam Duritz quote from www.annabegins.com
Alternate lyric extracts transcribed from the Counting Crows album Across a Wire

The original version of Mr. Jones available on the album August and Everything After
As Orpehum mentioned, there's been a lot of speculation about who or what Mr. Jones might refer to. Adam Duritz himself answered this question in part of the VH1 Storytellers show which was left out of Across a Wire for reasons of CD space:

"I have heard everything from it being about some ancient blues man who taught me to play music, which is completely ridiculous (but like somebody's movie fantasy). And I've also heard it's about my dick, which is even more ridiculous. Why do people go there, you know?

When we did the interview for "Rolling Stone" I walked with David Wilde into the Musée d'Orsay in Paris one day and the first thing that happened was these two kids ran up to us and said, "Hey! You're the guy from Counting Crows, right?" And I said, "yeah." And he said, "Is Mr. Jones about your dick?" I wanted to kill the guy because I knew where that was going to end up, which is the first paragraph of the article in "Rolling Stone." It's really a song about my friend Marty and I."

"Marty" here refers to Marty Jones, a bass player for Sordid Humor and The Himalayans - both bands with which Adam Duritz had played before joining the Counting Crows.


Sources:
  • annabegins.com

With thanks to Two Sheds for pointers and corrections.

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