This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Honourable Mention Song #2: Round Here by Counting Crows (as Nominated by JoAnne Teal).
It is my hope that, over the course of the next few weeks, you will all be introduced to some of the wonderful people who make up my world. As well, we will learn the back story of some songs that may or may not be famous but, in one way or another, all hold a special place in the hearts and minds of those who nominated them to me for inclusion in our countdown. So, without further delay, here is our second Honourable Mention song….”Round Here” by Counting Crows” as nominated by my friend, JoAnne Teal.
To borrow a line from my boy, E.B. White…..it is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. JoAnne is both.
JoAnne and I first met about eight years ago while involved in a writing community known as Trifecta. As part of this community of writers, JoAnne and I and our peers would respond to weekly writing prompts and create 100-word or 33-word stories. These stories would be posted online in a central location for everyone else to read and to respond to. It was a glorious time because of how we all enjoyed the act of creativity but, more than that, we all got to read really good work by a lot of talented writers each week. One of the best parts of being in a creative environment is the opportunity for personal growth. At Trifecta, it always amazed me how many different ways people would respond to the exact same prompt. The variety of responses always encouraged me to try my best to view life as being filled with a myriad of possibilities, too. But, the thing I took from Trifecta that has enriched me the most is the friendships I made there as a result of all of the interactivity built into the site. It was terrific to be able to comment on the work of others and have my opinions respected. Conversely, it was awesome to have such talented writers view my work and comment in ways that reinforced a belief in myself and/or offered tips on how to be even better at my craft. Well, eventually, all good things must come to an end and such was the case for the Trifecta writing community. Those who acted as moderators decided to move on to other things and those of us who were members went our own ways, too. But, before leaving, I reached out to a dozen or so people from the group and asked to be allowed to stay in touch. And so, in my list of Facebook “friends”, I have a group of folks who I lovingly call, “My Writer Pals”; all of whom are talented wordsmiths and even more importantly, all of whom are wonderful human beings, too. One of “My Writer Pals” that I interact with the most is a lady from Vancouver named JoAnne Teal.
JoAnne is a beautiful writer. I have been a fan of her writing ever since the first time I read her work on Trifecta. JoAnne is a different kind of writer than I am. While I feel my strength comes in the form of commentary or essay-style writing, JoAnne is a truly gifted creative writer. She can create whole worlds out of a single idea. But, the thing that has always really impressed me about her writing is that she tends to favour characters who exist on the margins of our society. She is a realistic writer but, at the same time, JoAnne always gives her characters a sense of dignity and worth that is quite moving. Whenever I meet a new character that she has created, I always leave with the sense that she has created a fully-realized person and that she cares about that character and how they are to be treated. ***At the end of this post, I will include a link to JoAnne’s website so that you can read some of her work, if you feel so inclined. You can even sign up to have her work sent directly to your inbox, just as some of you have arranged with me and this website.
So, when I put out the call for song submissions, it did not surprise me that someone like JoAnne would pick a beautifully-written song. “Round Here” by Counting Crows is from their one really big album called, “August and Everything After”. “Mr. Jones” was the big hit that launched their career into the stratosphere, with “Round Here” being the follow-up release. The crux of this song is about growing up and leaving the people and beliefs of your younger years behind, as you move forward with your life. In some cases, you are better off having discarded ideas and folks who may have been weighing you down. But, life isn’t always as simple as that. Sometimes, the leaving behind becomes hurtful and a sense of loss follows like a contrail. All in all, in our journey through life, we are constantly shedding our skin, as it were and having to reassess whether we now like what we see when we look in the mirror. That, in essence, is what “Round Here” is about, according to lead singer, Adam Duritz.
But, the strength of “Round Here” lays squarely in the poetry and lyrical imagery of its lyrics. The song opens with a scene in which Duritz’s character walks out of a home and leaves behind a partner/parent who has played their part in his journey and is being left behind as he goes forward with his life. In the hands of a gifted writer, that scene plays out like this:
“Step out of the front door like a ghost into the fog
Where no one notices the contrast between white on white”
I could write until the cows came home and never come up with something so concise and image-laden as that opening line. I have always been an admirer of writers who can say so much using so few words. Adam Duritz does this all throughout “Round Here”. The song is lovely. It was released at a fortuitous time because the early 1990s was a time in American music when Grunge was blowing up and dominating the airwaves. So, a poetry-esque story about personal growth and self-worth contrasted nicely with the energy of Grunge. Thus, Counting Crows found themselves with a spotlight all of their own as the 1990s unfolded. Duritz always modelled himself after the Singer-Songwriters of the early 1970s such as Carole King, James Taylor, Jackson Brown, Joni Mitchell and so on and, as a result, the music of Counting Crows was greeted with relief by fans who were looking for a calmer, more reflective style of music to enjoy.
So, thank you JoAnne for reminding us all about of a song that is so wonderfully written. I am confident that many who read this post will welcome the chance to hear it again. And, as for you, thank you for your support of this project and of my work, in general. It means a lot to have an ally of your calibre in my corner. For everyone else, I will remind you that the link to JoAnne’s website will be listed below. I will close by sharing a small detail about JoAnne and I that, when you come to think about it, shouldn’t come as a surprise……we are Wordle buddies. Each morning, JoAnne and I and a few other friends take the Wordle challenge and share our results and the strategies we used to solve the puzzle before the puzzle solved us. It is a nice way to begin my day, each day. Thanks, JoAnne. I don’t know if that makes us nerds who love words but, whatever the case, I am happy that I get to spend part of my day with such a wonderful, creative, thoughtful person. I am happy that the rest of you are having the chance to meet her, too.
For now, let’s get to JoAnne’s choice of songs…..here are Counting Crows with their hit, “Round Here”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Round Here” by Counting Crows, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Counting Crows, can be found here.
The link to the official website for JoAnne Teal, writer extraordinaire, can be found here. ***Btw, writers often gain inspiration from other writers so, once you find out what JoAnne calls her website you will see why I chose to call mine what I did. 🙂