Revisiting The Underrated Awesomeness of “August and Everything After”
I can’t deny that there is a nostalgic component to this album for me. It was one of the first compact discs (ha! remember those?) I purchased with my own cash. It stayed in my rotation through high school and into college. I’ve always considered it one of the best albums, well ever, but certainly of the 1990s. Anyway, I decided to go back and listen to this album to make sure I wasn’t crazy and basing my opinion entirely on nostalgia. Let’s go track by track:
1. “Round Here”
The best non-“Mr. Jones” track on this album, although I admit to being a sucker for songs that slowly build. I’ve always thought this was an odd choice for an album’s opening track. I always think of it as this albums final track, but it’s obviously not. I’m weird. This song is great, especially when he sings louder at the end. Louder is awesome.
Just a solid acoustic rock song, which is a common theme on this album. If there’s one criticism of this album, it’s that some of the songs are a little too similar. To me, that’s not a bad thing. There’s not a bad song to be found here and how many albums can claim that?
3. “Mr. Jones”
Well, this is the biggie. I dare you to find someone between the ages of 26-32 who doesn’t know the words to this song. You can’t. Play the first few seconds and anyone within that age group will immediately begin awkwardly dancing like they’re back at whatever horrible dance they were a part of in 1994. This song is fantastic and holds up perfectly today. Compare this to any song you hear on the radio and tell me this song isn’t better. I also now have a strong urge to get the guitar out.
Side note: My friends and I have this game we play where we randomly text each other choices between random albums, songs, movies, or whatever (my friends and I are obviously extremely cool). Last week my friend Zack texted me, “Better 90s pop song: “Mr. Jones” or “Buddy Holly”?” The answer was obviously “Mr. Jones,” but it led to a back and forth attempt at finding a 90s pop song that was better than “Mr. Jones.” We never really did. It’s that good.
4. “Perfect Blue Buildings”
For me, this is probably the weakest song on the album. Like I mentioned earlier, every song on this album is solid, but this one is just a little too blah for me. It just doesn’t seem to really go anywhere. Let’s move on.
5. “Anna Begins”
This is a dark and fairly heartbreaking song. If you don’t believe me, listen to the slowed down version above. The Crows are depressed. Fucking Anna.
6. “Time and Time Again”
This is another one of those slow build songs that I absolutely love. The section that starts around the 2:40 mark might be my favorite few seconds of this entire album. Come to think of it, if you want me to like your music, just sing slowly over depressing chords for a couple of verses and then immediately play faster and louder. I’ll be completely in, well, unless you’re Creed.
7. “Rain King”
Probably the most upbeat song on the album, at least musically. The lyrics themselves aren’t so upbeat, which seems to be a theme on this album. I mean, there are lyrics on this song like “She’s been dying; I’ve been drinking,” which is the motto of any great relationship.
8. “Sullivan Street”
This song could easily be released today by someone like Justin Townes Earle, which is a good thing. Songs about places tend to make me think of my hometown, regardless of what the song is actually about. This one is no different. I’m sure it’s really about some depressing relationship situation but to me it’s about drinking terrible beer while pretending to fish on a weeknight because high school was just so damn easy. Those are good times.
9. “Ghost Train”
Remember when I said there were no bad songs on this album? I may have lied. I’m not a big fan of this one. It has a jazz feel to it. I pretty much hate jazz.
10. “Raining in Baltimore”
Without “Mr. Jones” or “Rain King” this album would be really hard to listen to without wanting to hang yourself from skyscraper. I guess any song about Baltimore is destined to be depressing. I mean, it is Baltimore. I’m still loving this album though. One more song to go
11. “A Murder of One”
I used to claim this was my favorite song on the album just to be different. Only sheep claimed “Mr. Jones.” I was no sheep because I liked the Counting Crows’ deep cuts, man. I was a liar. Of course Mr. Jones was my favorite song. It still is by a long a shot. However, this is my second favorite song on the album. “Round Here” is for sheep, man.
If asked to name the best albums of the 1990’s, nearly everyone would name Nevermind , Ten, All Eyez on Me, or even Ok Computer, but how many would name August and Everything After. Probably not many. Released in 1993, this was the Counting Crows’ debut album and easily one of the best albums of the 1990’s. Unfortunately, it seems to also be one of the most forgotten. There’s likely an entire generation of people who are unaware that this album, or the Counting Crows, exist at all. The band and the album deserve better than that, because they are better than that. The band certainly never topped this album, but has Pearl Jam ever topped Ten? Debatable.
Bottom line: Listen to this album. It holds up as easily one of the best albums of the 90s.