Counting Crows, "Angels Of The Silences"

>> Sunday, October 16, 2011

Do you know, I found myself upstairs the other night, listening to CDs because I hadn't done this in a while. Oh, I listen to music all the time, right? But so much of it's MP3 now, so much of it's streaming digital audio, whether it's satellite radio or Internet radio or listening to things I've bought from Amazon via the cloud. But actually going and turning on the CD/DVD player, the amplifier, popping in a CD--choosing a CD, even. Funny how things change: there was a time when the act of putting a CD in the tray seemed like a cheat compared to the ritual of cautiously sliding a vinyl LP from its inner sleeve, gently blowing both sides, slipping it over the spindle and carefully cleaning the disc before lowering the needle to the groove. I don't mind the convenience of choosing an album from a list, pressing a button and never having to worry about my favorite song being destroyed by an errant grain of dust that wasn't dislodged by my wind or picked up by the cleaning kit, but there's inevitably a sense of missing something, a sense of nostalgia when recalling the tactile experiences that came with vinyl. Popping a CD from the case was already a cheaper experience than vinyl, as far as tactile experiences went, and now it's all-but-gone, too.

Well, that wasn't what this post was about.

Where I was meaning to start was that I was upstairs doing some writing, or a facsimile thereof, and found myself wanting some music and then picking a CD. And I wasn't sure what I was in the mood for when my eyes fell on Counting Crows' second album, Recovering The Satellites up on the shelf and I realized I hadn't listened to that record in a really long time, so that went in the machine that fired lasers at it and turned the reflections off the disc back into noise.

I used to listen to a lot of Counting Crows in college, or a lot of their first three albums. After This Desert Life I sort of lost track of what they were up to; there were other things I wanted to listen to and I guess I didn't hear anything from them that grabbed me the way that first album did. I suppose, regretfully, I may have been influenced by the backlash a little, too: CC came on so strong and had such incredible word-of-mouth and August And Everything After really was such a good album when it came out, but then nothing could quite follow that up and the band seemed to get so self-serious (there'd always been a vein of that in the music, of course, but it worked in that milieu); and "Mr. Jones" got so overplayed and there was just something kind of off-putting about Adam Duritz dating starlets, though I guess that isn't fair, either. Anyway, as it so often does, when the rubber band snapped back to where it was, it snapped hard, and even someone like me who'd defend August to the death and loved Satellites would find himself worn out by it all, to the point that it didn't even quite seem worth it to pick up whatever the new album was. Probably makes me a fool, but in my defense, there really was something else all the time, something else old-and-just-discovered, something new over here.

It's funny, though, thinking about those tactile experiences with music, those associations. So I was in college when the first album came out and law school when the second followed it, but it's college that dominates: somehow, I can't think of Counting Crows without thinking about the dark, dank, wood-veneer-paneled apartment house I shared in college, this mildewed place with a dark carpet and a coarse couch held up by boards (I remember those boards more than I remember the color of the couch--which I can't remember at all, but I want to say it might have been olive...ish--because I broke a toe on that fucking thing; my little toe, and there's nothing you can do about your goddamn little toe when it's broken, so I set it using a band-aid and the toe next to it as a splint and limped around in pain for a time). I associate August And Everything After with mildew, in short, and somehow there's nothing wrong with that. I ought to associate Recovering The Satellites with the chalk-white cinderblock walls of the dorm room I had to live in during law school, but somehow that one is mildew, too. I don't really have an association for This Desert Life, sorry to say, and that may be one of the reasons I accidentally stopped listening to Counting Crows, actually, and too bad.

I should listen to those albums more than I do, I shouldn't let them be neglected. There's so much to listen to, yes, but those are a couple of great records and I'm missing out when I leave them alone for so long. Here's "Angels Of The Silences":


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