is the first track from Counting Crows
1993 debut, August and Everything After
. It was the second single
released from that album, in May 1994 Internationally
, June 1994 in the U.K.
It was also a B-Side
, with live versions appearing on 1996's Angels of the Silences
and 1998's Mr Jones Live
singles. As well as these versions, there are 2 live versions on the 1998 double live album, Across A Wire
- Live in New York
. One version is a completely stripped down acoustic
version - nothing more than vocals
and acoustic guitar
, while the other is an electric
version. Round here has always been a song that may be heavily modified
when performed live. Amongst the bootleg
trading community, there are dozens of different versions of the Round Here, many containing alternate lyrics. At a time when Mr. Jones
was their signature
song, the one that had catapult
ed them to fame, they chose to sing Round Here
live on the David Letterman
show. Perhaps Mr. Jones is a song more suited to live television
, but Round Here
, to me, does the better job of telling me what Counting Crows
are all about - songs with meaning, with a message....with heart
It an amazingly beautiful introduction to an album. For ten seconds, there's almost silence. And then the song slowly swells...before the voice of Adam Duritz breaks in, and gives the song life.
"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...."
I have never, ever heard a more powerful introduction to an album. What makes it all the more remarkable, is that it's not achieved through the use of a loud, heavy introduction. Instead, Round Here says 'this album, it has substance. I hope you're ready to not only listen, but to hear...'
"Maria came from Nashville, with a suitcase in her hand, 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 a circus
Parks her car outside my house, takes her clothes off, says she's close to understanding Jesus
And she knows she's more than a little, misunderstood, she has trouble acting normal, when she's nervous"
Round Here was the first song to introduce the character, Maria. Maria isn't actually a real person, rather a creation of Adam Duritz. She is him, but looking through the eyes of a girl:
"She's just an idea of someone I came up with when I was writing "Round Here." I mean, she's me. It's through the eyes of a girl, but it's someone very much like me struggling at the edge, not sure if she's going to fall off on one side or the other. It's a theme that's stuck through songs. So she keeps popping up."
Round Here is a song about fading, about growing up, and realising that the things you wanted when you were a child come with responsibilities. That what you imagined life would be like as a grown-up, may not match the reality you end up in. The simple things you dreamed for, don't really matter in the grand scheme of things. And the chorus lyrics are a list of cliches, the things that you're supposed to look forward to when you're a kid, the things children are meant to have to wait for adulthood to enjoy...
"Round here, we stay up very, very late"
"Round here, we talk just like lions..."
And eventually, the realisation hits, that life's not like you imagine it as a child. Along with the extra things you're allowed to do, come responsibilities, and they can weigh heavier than the dreams of youth. And before you know it, those dreams have died...faded away...
"And I can't see nothing....nothing....round here"
This song has some amazing live versions circulating throughout the bootleg community. If you want to hear some incredible versions of this song, I'd recommend these:
Round Here - Wiltern Theatre, 20 December 1996. 12 minutes 6 seconds of brilliance. This version features many alternate lyrics, and takes the song to a different plane. Available on the 2 For Joy bootleg.
Round Here - London, 7 May 1994. Available on the Carving Out Our Names bootleg, this is a high quality recording, very close to studio quality.