Counting Crows – Round Here

RoundHereCC

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

It is somewhat rare for a song that resonated with me in high school to resonate more deeply on a visceral level many years later. To expound on that – most songs that I loved back then I still love. But the context is mostly the same – the same reasons I loved it then are the same reasons I love it now. Not so with Round Here by Counting Crows – the 2nd single lifted from their debut album August and Everything After. As a teenager finding his way in life, I related to the existential angst emanating forth from the lyrics spewed by singer Adam Duritz. 90’s alternative rock imbued with a sense of isolation and longing – what’s not to love, right? In some circles, Counting Crows were derided as the radio friendly version of alternative rock in the aftermath of Nirvana. I always thought that was a bit harsh, and I admittedly loved everything the early and mid 90’s offered up. The teenager version of me couldn’t escape the imagery of the opening lines “Step out the front door like a ghost / into the fog where no one notices / the contrast of white on white”. The approaching middle age hipster version of me can’t escape the imagery of this verse “she parks her car outside of my house / and 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”. It helps that the lyrics are wrapped in a pop folk package with emotive vocals from Adam Duritz. The questioning of where life is going is more than a little open-ended in your teens – in your 30’s it is more like WHERE IS LIFE GOING? And I think most people have those feelings from time to time. Let this song be your soundtrack.

Radiohead – Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Radiohead-Street_Spirit_(Fade_Out)_(CD_Single)-Frontal

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

Radiohead easily could have ended up as 1 hit wonders from the 90’s based on their hit single Creep from the debut album, Pablo Honey. Angst filled lyrics, Nirvana-esque music – it was a perfect single that embodied the early to mid 90’s. The Bends – released in 1995 – was a reintroduction of sorts. A progressive element seeped into the music, with the abrasive songs balanced out by haunting melodic gems. Street Spirit was the 3rd single lifted from the record, and the 1st Top 5 UK hit for the band. For me, this song embodies everything that Radiohead would become over the next 20 years. Ghostly & emotional vocals by Thom Yorke backed by a band firing on all cylinders. The guitar refrain has to be one of the most haunting riffs Radiohead has ever created. In fact – I’ll go so far as to say that this remains my favorite Radiohead song. The lyrics present a contradiction of sorts, bleakness followed by the light. “All these things into position / All these things we’ll one day swallow whole / And fade out again and fade out again / Immerse your soul in love”. The video for the track adds to the emotional resonance of the song (embedded below). As a side note, my 2nd favorite Radiohead song is Talk Show Host – a b-side to the original single release of Street Spirit (Fade Out). It also succeeds admirably in creating its own atmospheric universe of isolation. Both tracks can be found on the deluxe reissue of The Bends.