It's difficult, these Top 5 lists, and that's part of what makes them fun! One of the challenges for me is whether or not I should be ruthless about it and take my Top 5 songs regardless of how representative they are of an artist's work or if I should strive for balance.
Friend and BBS collaborator Stephanie encouraged me to take a swing at Counting Crows, so here it is, by request. I like all their records and love some of them. I could do Top 5 lists for several of their individual records and still leave coveted songs off those lists. Condensing all those records and songs into five was, as expected, a daunting task.
- "Round Here" - Do I even have to explain this? Frontman Adam Duritz correctly notes that while "Mr. Jones" got people's attention, the album didn't take off until "Round Here" and on a record with multiple masterpieces, this might stand above them all. Duritz sounds like he's free associating, making up the words, the stories, and the characters as he's singing and yet he's singing as if his life depends on it.
- "A Long December" - Okay, another "Capt. Obvious" choice but this song has commiserated, comforted, and traveled with me for decades. "It's all a lot of oysters but no pearls" sums up the way I've felt about more chapters of my life then I care to admit. Duritz isn't often known for penning optimistic songs and maybe this isn't one either but I think people miss an important line in this song. Sure, it's been a long December but "there's reason to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last." It may not come to pass. It may go horribly wrong, again, but there's reason to believe this could be it.
- "Washington Square" - Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings is a phenomenal record with emotional and musical depth. I chose my favorite from the Sunday portion of the record, the half that tells tales of living down the mistakes we've made, feeling lost and broken inside. It feels like the person at the center of this song is wandering and untethered, looking for some place to get back to, some place that could be home. It's also a beautiful piece of music, brilliantly played.
- "Anna Begins" - I don't think I've lived anything like this song but I feel like I could fall apart every time I listen to it because it sounds like Duritz is, lyrically and vocally. I also love the backing vocal work the band does as the song reaches it's devastating end.
- "Another Horsedreamer's Blues": Point of personal privilege on this one, kids. I realize I am probably the only person who will put this one on their list but I can't tell you how many times I listened to this song over the years, and in particular in college. The Wurlitzer and string arrangement are what drew me in more than the lyrics or the story during those early encounters where I'd listen to it on repeat, almost in a trance. It can still draw me in with nearly the same power as when it first hooked me.