While also the name of a band, 'Counting Crows' is the reference name of a nursery rhyme; it is also called a divination rhyme due to the fact that the number of crows seen is a premonition. This counting rhyme is believed to have originated from crow or magpie augry. There are many variations to this rhyme, due to different time periods and geographical locations. The older ones seem to have originated in Europe, and use magpies instead of crows, whereas the newer versions have originated in North America and use crows.

In old Europe, it was believed lucky to see a single magpie, as demonstrated in this nursery rhyme: Magpie, magpie, chatter and flee, Turn up thy tail, and good luck to me.

In addition, though, depending on the number of crows, magpies, or ravens in a murder (flock), something different was supposed to happen in your life or the lives around you. I was able to find seven significantly different versions of the 'Counting Crows' rhyme, and they are as follows:

One's lucky,
Two's unlucky,
Three is health,
Four is wealth,
Five is sickness
And six is death.

One for sorrow, two for mirth,
Three's a wedding, four's a birth,
Five is Heaven, six is Hell,
Seven is the Devil himself.

One crow sorrow,
Two crows joy,
Three crows a letter,
Four crows a boy.

One for sorrow, two for mirth,
Three for a wedding, four for a birth,
Five for silver, six for gold,
Seven for a secret not to be told.
Eight for heaven, nine for hell,
And ten for the devil's own sel'.

One for sorrow, two for joy,
Three for a girl, four for a boy,
Five for silver, six for gold,
Seven for a secret never to be told,
Eight for a wish, nine for a kiss,
And ten for a time of joyous bliss.

One for sorrow, two for mirth,
Three for a wedding, four for birth,
Five for rich, six for poor,
Seven for a witch; I can tell you no more.

One for sadness, two for mirth,
Three for marriage, four for birth,
Five for laughing, six for crying,
Seven for sickness, eight for dying,
Nine for silver, ten for gold,
Eleven a secret that will never be told.

Each of these variation have origins from the 1800s and earlier. Silver and gold were still used as monetary units (real silver and gold); God and Satan were absolutes, and superstition abounded concerning the Devil: he would take your daughter, destroy your home, etc.; and being sick could easily mean death.

Granted, these rhymes are non-specific; however, this is what gave them their believability. For instance, if one were to see two crows (two for mirth), and went to the local tavern and heard a joke which made them laugh, then the premonition had come true.

The 'Counting Crows' rhymes aren't simply relegated to the past, though. In fact, they are still used as present-day artistic influences: The band Counting Crows derives their name from the rhyme; they also have a song from their first album, August and Everything After, concerning this rhyme, whose title is 'A Murder of One'. 'Counting Crows' was a recurring theme in Moonlight and Vines, written by Charles de Lint. His wife, Mary Anne Harris, wrote a song by the name of 'Crow Girls' centering around the theme of the counting rhyme. In addition, in the movie 'The Crow', you can hear young Sara chanting this rhyme in the background of one of the flashbacks.

While 'Counting Crows' is an old nursery rhyme, now aimed at young children, it is a wonderful example of how most things never really disappear, and how the past can influence the future.