I Dream of Michelangelo...
There are some strange anomalies in pop music. There was much about Counting Crows that I always liked, not least the often esoteric and poetic lyrics, but to read on Wiki that they've sold twenty million albums? That's a few. Not as many as some, but a lot more than most. And a lot more than I thought. Then again, the same Wiki entry claims this laidback Cali outfit are/were influenced by Mike & The Mechanics. Here's some live and direct news, Wiki: no one is influenced by Mike and the Fucking Mechanics. You cannot be influenced by something that has no substance. You may as well say you have been profoundly moved by egg whites. Jesus.
Adam Duritz, CC's singer/songwriter was, as Grandpa would have it, a pothead. An out of it cat. Yessir. The downside means that some serious lack of judgement made covering Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" seem like a good idea. Sadly, that song, along with the frankly execrable "Mr Jones" is what they'll be most remembered for. Instead of their more heartfelt and poignant moments, such as "Angels of the Silences" from 1996's "Recovering the Satellites" where Duritz flexed his pen to good effect.
"Every night these silhouettes appear above my head
Little angels of the silences that climb into my bed and whisper
Every time I fall asleep, every time I dream
"Did you come? Would you lie?
Why'd you leave us 'till we're only good for...
Waiting for you..."
Followed shortly thereafter by the delicious line:
"All my innocence is wasted on the dead and dreaming..."
Sounds decidely Catholic to me, a Saint Augutine-like philosophy of, "God make me good but not yet." Then the next brilliant verse, which is so tangential it shows a peaking imagination, I reckons...
"I dream of Michelangelo when I'm lying in my bed
Little angels hang above my head and read me like an open book
Suck my blood, break my nerve offer me their arms
Well, I will not be an enemy of anything
I'll only stand here
Waiting for you
All my sins...
I said that I would pay for them if I could come back to you
All my innocence is wasted on the dead and dreaming"
I didn't want to get into interpretation, but there does seem to be some serious institutionalised religious flashback going on here. Some desperation, fear of death, purgatorial anxiety?
This energetic, driven delight was the first single off the album. It's beautifully countered by "Goodnight Elisabeth", whose energy levels are made clear by the dreamy intro and opening lines:
"I was wasted in the afternoon/waiting on a train..."
Into its sad heart we head, and the self-deprecating/self-abusive, disillusioned artist takes over. But where it should be pathetic it is, I think, amongst some of the loveliest of lyrical meanderings around. Maudlin, mebbe? Matter-of-fact, mostly
"We couldn't all be cowboys
So some of us are clowns
Some of us are dancers on the midway
We roam from town to town
I hope that everybody can find a little flame
Me, I say my prayers, then I just light myself on fire
And I walk out on the wire once again..."
Having come off a long tour where they'd just shot to stardom, it makes sense that AD is questioning his new found fame and already loathing the persona. Don't think he ever fit in, that's for sure...
"I will wait for you in Baton Rouge
I'll miss you down in New Orleans
I'll wait for you while she slips in something comfortable
And I'll miss you when I'm slipping in between
If you wrap yourself in daffodils
I will wrap myself in pain
And if you're the queen of California
Baby I am the king of the rain..."
Here's to August and everything after...