"It's about denial -- how far you'll go to deny that something's really happening because it's too complicated, too terrifying, too difficult. It's about me and Anna..."

One of the most powerful, and beautiful Counting Crows songs released to date, Anna Begins is a song with a story to tell. From their debut album, August and Everything After, and never released as a single, it is still one of the most popular Counting Crows songs released, particularly amongst the trading community.

Anna Begins was written based on the experience of singer and songwriter Adam Duritz, on vacation in the Greek Isles in 1989. Anna was the girl he met while there, and formed a relationship with. Things were supposed to be light hearted, and nothing too serious - after all, a singer from California couldn't risk anything more with a girl from Australia, on holiday in Greece, could he?

"...the relationship was supposed to be light -- we met on vacation -- but we got further into it and it became harder and harder."

Of all the emotional songs Adam Duritz has written - and that's most of them - I find this one the most heartbreaking, and powerful. Confusion drips from almost every line, as the struggle between what is felt in the heart, and the reality of the situation that can't be denied, is turned into song.

"If its love," she said, "then we're going to have to think about the consequences." She can't stop shaking I can't stop touching her...

Although it's a song about denial, it contains some of the most beautiful lines you could ever hope to weave into song. As both of them try to rationalise where they find themselves, you hear a line like "and every time she sneezes, I think it's love", and wonder how something so incredible could ever die, no matter the obstacles in its way.

At the end of it all, they did both go their separate ways. Anna is now married, a mother and living in Sydney. Adam and Anna have never really lost contact with each other, still talking occasionally. She still tells him that she loves this song. Although I'm sure memories of times like this must bring a tinge of regret, a memory of what must have been an incredibly intense time, I can't imagine a more amazing way to remember than through the words of Anna Begins.

"She disappears, and oh Lord...I'm not ready for this sort of thing..."

Anna Begins is from the Counting Crows album August and Everything After

CST Approved

Maybe it would help if my kid, currently age thirteen but who thinks she’s going on twenty, wasn’t named Anna.

Snap her up in a butterfly net-
Pin her down on a photograph album
I am not worried
I’ve done this sort of thing before

With my kid’s upcoming trip to DC staring me in the face I’m starting to once again realize just how quickly time moves when you’re not paying attention. It seems like it was just yesterday when her biggest concerns revolved around how many girl scout cookies she could sell or what color(s) to paint her room. She was so easy to please and eager to listen that I must have somehow subconsciously rationalized that it would stay that way forever.

It’s not that I couldn’t have seen it coming. After all, later this year I’m scheduled to become a grandfather twice over from my other two girls. Like the song says, “I’ve done this sort of thing before.”

But then I start to think about the consequences
Because I don’t get no sleep in a quiet room and...
This time when kindness falls like rain
It washes me away
and Anna begins change my mind
And every time she sneezes I believe its love
And oh lord....
I’m not ready for this sort of thing

I didn’t see it coming. I hate being blindsided, especially when I did it to myself. Now I worry when goes she out with her friends to shopping centers or to the movies. Now, its boys, dances and the latest fashions and for some reason I find myself laying awake at night worrying about where she is and when she’ll make her way home.

She s talking in her sleep
it s keeping me awake
And Anna begins to toss and turn
And every word is nonsense but I understand it and
Oh lord.
I m not ready for this sort of thing

And then the phone rings and I hear her voice or the door opens and she comes bopping in all smiles and giggly and I feel a certain sense of relief I never thought was possible.

And then when she goes to bed I begin to wonder about the next time…

Or three years from now when some of her friends will have cars and the horizons will expand even further.

Her kindness bangs a gong
It’s moving me along
and Anna begins to fade away
It s chasing me away.
she disappears,
and oh lord
I’m not ready for this sort of thing

And then one day in the not too distant future she’ll be on her own. She’s already making overtures about which college she’d like to attend. For now, Cornell is first on the list but I’m sure that’s gonna change as time moves on.

I’ve already got a mental image that consists of me and my ex waving goodbye and wiping back tears as she boards that plane and waves back as she makes her way down the gateway or crosses through security.

I'll say it again, as the song says, “I’m not ready for this sort of thing.”

But she will be…

And in the grand scheme of things, that’s probably much more important…

(Selected lyrics lifted from the song of the same name originally released on “August and Everything After” by the Counting Crows in 1993)

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