I thought the Counting Crows were refreshing when I heard Mr. Jones. I liked Adam Duritz’s voice a lot. The music press went over the top on hype though for The Counting Crows. Round Here was on their debut album August And Everything After which peaked at #4 in 1994 in the Billboard Album Charts.
The song peaked at #7 in the Billboard US Alternative Songs Charts, #70 in the UK, and #6 in Canada in 1994
This song won Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal and one for Best New Artist
Adam Duritz: “This is a song about me,” “The song begins with a guy walking out the front door of his house and leaving behind this woman. But the more he begins to leave people behind in his life, the more he feels like he’s leaving himself behind as well, and the less substantial he feels about himself. That’s sort of what the song’s about: even as he disappears from the lives of people, he’s disappearing more and more from his own life.”
This song dates back to Adam Duritz’ days in a band called the Himalayans, which he joined when he was a student at the University of California. That band – guitarist Dan Jewett, bass player Dave Janusko and drummer Chris Roldan – wrote the music for the song, to which Duritz added lyrics. The song became their most popular at concerts, and when Duritz formed Counting Crows, he brought the song with him. With his new bandmates Steve Bowman, David Bryson, Charlie Gillingham and Matt Malley, he worked up a new version of the song that was included on their first album, August And Everything After. Duritz made sure to credit everyone in both bands with writing the song, so “Round Here” has eight different writers listed on the composer credits.
The theme of childhood promises not panning out is one that shows up a lot in Duritz’ lyrics. In the chorus of this song, he lists some sayings that our parents often say: “Around here we always stand up straight,” “Around here we’re carving out our names.”
Said Duritz: “You’re told as a kid that if you do these things, it will add up to something: you’ll have a job, you life. And for me, and for the character in the song, they don’t add up to anything, it’s all a bunch of crap. Your life comes to you or doesn’t come to you, but those things didn’t really mean anything.
By the end of the song, he’s so dismayed that he’s screaming out that he gets to stay up as late as he wants and nobody makes him wait; the things that are important to a kid – you don’t have to go to bed, you don’t have to do anything. But they’re the sort of things that don’t make any difference at all when you’re an adult. They’re nothing.”
At the time, Counting Crows didn’t release singles in America, and it wasn’t until 1998 that Billboard allowed songs to chart on their Hot 100 that weren’t released as singles. As a result, the song is a chart anomaly: a very popular song that never showed up. It did make #31 on the Airplay chart, which was later integrated in the Hot 100. The group didn’t release singles so listeners would be compelled to buy the albums – a far more lucrative purchase, and arguably a more complete listening experience.
The band often plays extended versions of this song at concerts, which can be heard on the 10 minute performance on the song on their 2013 live album Echoes of the Outlaw Roadshow. “I think one of the nice things about playing music is a sense that whatever I want to do is okay,” Adam Duritz said in our 2013 interview. “As long as I’m really expressing something, then any way I want to express the song, it’s fine.”
Counting Crows made a video for this song, which was directed by Mark Neale, who would later direct The Verve Pipe’s video for “The Freshman” and the documentary Faster. It was the second video the band made (following “Mr. Jones”), and the last one they made for the album, since Adam Duritz wanted the band to scale back promotion when they became wildly popular. “I saw people around me putting out records that got a little too big, and that was the end of them,” Duritz told us. “I didn’t want that for us, so I stopped it.”
Step out the front door like a ghost
Into the fog where no one notices
The contrast of white on white.
And in between the moon and you
The angels get a better view
Of the crumbling difference between wrong and right.
I walk in the air between the rain,
Through myself and back again.
Where? I don’t know
Maria says she’s dying.
Through the door, I hear her crying
Why? I don’t know
‘Round here we always stand up straight
‘Round here something radiates
Maria came from Nashville with a suitcase in her hand
She said she’d like to meet a boy who looks like Elvis
And she walks along the edge of where the ocean meets the land
Just like she’s walking on a wire in the circus
She parks her car outside of my house, takes her clothes off,
Says she’s close to understanding Jesus
She knows she’s more that just a little misunderstood
She has trouble acting normal when she’s nervous
‘Round here we’re carving out our names
‘Round here we all look the same
‘Round here we talk just like lions
But we sacrifice like lambs
‘Round here she’s slipping through my hands
Sleeping children got to run like the wind
Out of the lightning dream
Mama’s little baby better get herself in
Out of the lightning
She says, “It’s only in my head.”
She says, “Shh, I know it’s only in my head.”
But the girl on the car in the parking lot
Says: “Man, you should try to take a shot
Can’t you see my walls are crumbling.”
Then she looks up at the building
And says she’s thinking of jumping.
She says she’s tired of life;
She must be tired of something.
‘Round here she’s always on my mind
‘Round here (hey man) I got lots of time
‘Round here we’re never sent to bed early
And nobody makes us wait
‘Round here we stay up very very very very late
I can’t see nothing, nothing
You catch me if I’m falling
You catch me if I’m falling
Will you catch me because I’m falling down on here
I said ” I’m under the gun”
Oh man I said “I’m under the gun”
And I can’t see nothin’, nothin’.