The Counting Crows burst onto the heavily grunge-dominated music scene in 1993 with their multi-platinum debut album, August and Everything After.
The band proved that they had the musical chops for long-term success with multiple studio albums, tours, and award nominations.
But are The Counting Crows still together?
Let’s jump in and find out!
The Story of The Counting Crows
Adam Duritz is a founding member, lead singer, pianist, and primary composer of The Counting Crows. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and his interest in music began at a young age.
His earliest influences were The Beatles and Michael Jackson, as his parents had all the Beatles’ records and took him to a Jackson Five concert when he was five years old. He began writing songs in college at Berkely to reconnect with his sister.
David Bryson is the co-founder, lead guitarist, and songwriter for The Counting Crows. He was a student of guitarist Joe Satriani. Bryson owned The Dancing Dog Studios, where he produced and engineered from the mid-1980s until 1997.
Charles Gillingham is a multi-instrumentalist and sometimes composer for The Counting Crows. He’s best known for playing keyboards, the Hammond B-3 organ, accordion, and piano. Sometimes he will also play the bass guitar in live shows. Gillingham played in numerous bands before The Counting Crows, including playing guitar on Train’s 1998 debut album.
David Immergluck is from the San Francisco Bay area, where he played multiple instruments from a young age. He sings and plays mandolin, bass, pedal steel guitar, electric sitar, slide guitar, and keyboards. He was a member of the 1980s indie rock band, Camper Van Beethoven and their indie side project, The Monks of Doom.
Getting the Band Together
The Counting Crows began as an acoustic duo between Duritz and Bryson in 1991 in San Francisco. Immergluck played guitar with them at occasional gigs but wasn’t a full-fledged member at first. He played with them on a few demos, but it wasn’t until 1992 that the Crows had their full band assembled.
They added bassist Matt Malley and drummer Steve Bowman to their line-up and became a favorite of the San Francisco Bay area music scene. There was a huge buzz surrounding them from the very beginning due to Duritz’s lyrical writing and expressive voice and the profoundly soulful music of the band.
Their influences were rockers from the 70s such as Van Morrison and Bob Dylan, and they created their own darkly poetic songs that broke free of the grunge movement. Their band name was derived from a British nursery rhyme about the superstitious counting of crows. “One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy.”
Success and Struggle
The buzz was so strong that in 1992 nine different labels fought in a bidding war to win their contract, including Geffen Records, which eventually succeeded in securing the band.
Their debut album, August and Everything After, was released in September 1993 and was a smash hit. The first single off the album, Mr. Jones, was their breakout hit. The song is about a couple of struggling musicians who want to be big stars, and “have different reasons for that.”
The album sold seven million copies in the US and earned the band two Grammy nominations but played a heavy toll on Duritz. He suffered a mental breakdown, partly from the pressures and stress of success.
In 2008 he revealed a diagnosis of depersonalization disorder. This is a mental illness in which sufferers feel disconnected from their thoughts and body. In a way, they believe that many of their personal experiences and attachments aren’t real. Duritz said that working helps him to deal better with this disorder.
The Counting Crows have released seven studio albums altogether, the last one in 2014 called Somewhere Under Wonderland. They’ve sold more than 20 million albums worldwide.
About The Counting Crows New Album
The Counting Crows released their 8th studio album, Butter Miracle Suite One, in May 2021. It consists of four songs that segue together seamlessly, thus a suite. Adam Duritz conceived the album while living in the English countryside. He spent a lot of time playing the piano, imagining the songs for his new album.
His process for a suite evolved as he played the closing chords to one song but sang the melody of a new one as it came to him organically. He said, “It occurred to me that I could write a series of different songs that each played seamlessly out of the one before and flowed together like one long song. A suite.”
The Counting Crows plan to add a Suite 2 sometime soon to complete the album.
Counting Crows Best Known Songs
Round Here was the 2nd single released from their debut album. It was written and performed by The Himalayans, the band Duritz was in before The Counting Crows. The original version was more rock and roll, while the Crows’ style was lyrical and folky.
The song is a masterful example of Duritz’s poetic powers and the strength of his soulful voice. The very first lines evoke the singer’s disappearance into the world around him.
Step out the front door like a ghost into the fog
Where no one notices the contrast of white on white
Maria is the woman he sings about, who exhibits extremes of mental illness that resemble Duritz himself.
She parks her car outside of my house
Takes her clothes off
Says she’s close to understanding Jesus
And she knows she’s more than just a little misunderstood
She has trouble acting normal when she’s nervous.
Duritz stated that he wrote the song in 1989 living in Amsterdam when he wondered if he would ever make it as a musician. The world seemed to swallow him and his friends up, and childhood rules didn’t apply to real life.
He said of his feelings at the time, “And you walk out onto the edge of the world, and you balance yourself for a while, and you try to figure out just which one you’re going to be.”
Mr. Jones was their breakout single that made them stars. It was on their debut album, August and Everything After. The hit won them an MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist in 1994.
It’s almost innocent as Duritz and his friend Marty Jones go to the New Amsterdam café to “stare at the beautiful women” and dream of becoming big stars. Duritz said they were hanging out at the bar watching Jones’ father perform and saw another famous musician sitting with many beautiful women.
He went home and wrote the song about that night and his feelings.
A Long December
A Long December was the second single from their second album in 1996, Recovering the Satellites. The inspiration for the song came from a tragic accident when Duritz’s friend Jennifer was killed in a car accident. He wrote the song about reflecting on life and mortality and trying to look forward with a positive attitude.
And it’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
Are The Counting Crows Still Performing Live?
The Counting Crows are still together and performing live this summer. Their Butter Miracle tour starts July 14, 2022, in Hammond, Indiana, and ends November 1, 2022, at The House of Culture in Helsinki. This is their first tour since 2018, and they’ll be performing in the US and Europe.
From the Muse: For The Counting Crows ticket and tour date information, visit their website.
Still Entertaining the World
The Counting Crows have captivated the planet for over twenty years with their deeply soulful lyrics and intensely engaging music. In fact, they’re considered one of the premier live touring bands, and they’re back this year after a long hiatus.
Where will you see them in 2022?