We all have albums that once we hear it shoots us back to nostalgia. We recollect specific images and memories that are so engrained in our thoughts and minds. I can’t tell you how many times I hear a Cure song and think about high school days and summer nights. How about hearing the Siamese Dream album by the Smashing Pumpkins and Jeremy by Pearl Jam?
Before the magic of downloading nothing but singles, albums ruled all. We lived in a time when all we had was the full album and listening to it from front to back was not just entertainment but an experience. Albums were considered works of art. From start to finish you have to be able to draw in a listener, keep them engaged and carry them through a world of emotions ranging from sad to happy to melancholy and then to hopeful. Now not all albums are supposed to do this. It depends what the artist wants to do that really depends on how the album will sound. Some albums were specifically made to make you feel sad or hopeful or just dance your butt off.
I was 19 years old when I first heard the album, August and Everything After. I didn’t know much of music at all, but when you live in a college dorm that all changes. All kinds of music ran through the hallways ranging from Jimi Hendrix, Phish, Counting Crows, Pearl Jam, and many others. I got my taste of a ton of music that year. I’ll probably be talking about those albums in other articles, but for now I’m talking about the Counting Crows.
What an album! It’s so well written, arranged, composed and yet so simple. So many artists do way too much and sometimes simplicity wins over the over produced albums that we hear so many times on commercial radio. Every song on this album is great. Pick your poison. They are most famously known for Mr. Jones, but any true Counting Crows fan will tell you that Mr. Jones is probably on the bottom of the list for favorite songs on this album.
When you’re that age you’re going through all these emotions. Self-confidence, picking a major, liking a girl, getting rejected by a girl, trying to fit in, etc… We don’t really know ourselves and what we want and who we are. Sometimes when you hear a song and you connect with it, you don’t know much about anything in the world, but right at that time you know that you could listen to that song only and the whole world and all your problems would disappear. I can’t tell you how many times I sung Perfect Blue Buildings, Omaha and the Rain King and I didn’t understand what the hell Adam Duritz (lead singer) was talking about. But he hit a nerve. He made me feel again. It was like a drug listening to this album.
It changed my life because at the time I was struggling to find out who I was. What did I want to do in life? It’s a hard question to ask a kid. I mean….we’re kids! 18 years old and then they ask you what you want to do for the rest of our lives?! Some people knew at age 5 or 10, but I didn’t know jack. All I remember is hearing those songs and wanting to be able to live those lyrics in my life. Be the music. Be the feeling. That year I picked up a guitar and learned 3 simple chords from a college friend. It seems everyone in college knows how to play a guitar. The first Counting Crows song I learned to play was “Round Here”. I haven’t stopped since. Since learning to play that song, I’ve been in numerous bands, toured, released albums and have spread the joy of music. It’s a gift that I’m glad I found and I’m thankful everyday and THAT’S why the album August and Everything After changed my life.