Search for the Best Pop Song of the 1990s: “Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows
This is one blog’s search for the definitive “Best Pop Song of the 1990s.” Ground rules can be found here. Other entries are found here. This will be done mostly be analyzing these songs far more than any song, or really anything, deserves to be analyzed. First up:
“Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows
Released in 1993
Reached #2 on the Billboard Top 40
Here we go:
The stage is set with wonderful guitar chords and Duritz’s chanting.
I was down at the New Amsterdam staring at this yellow-haired girl
Mr. Jones strikes up a conversation with this black-haired flamenco dancer
This song was apparently written by Adam Duritz about himself and bassist Marty Jones of some band called The Himalayans. I prefer to believe that I am Mr. Jones. So, Adam Duritz and I are down at New Amsterdam and I’ve got a black-haired flamenco dancer…
She dances while his father plays guitar
She’s suddenly beautiful
This can only mean one thing. The flamenco dancer is nasty when my father is not playing guitar. Keep it up, Ricky. My dad’s name is Ricky.
We all want something beautiful
I wish I was beautiful
Maybe you should get your father to play guitar, Duritz.
So come dance this silence down through the morning
Cut Maria! Show me some of them Spanish dances
I’m not sure what this means, but this is the point when I remember that I really love this fucking song. Like a lot.
Pass me a bottle, Mr. Jones
Yeeeaaaa, Duritz. Now he’s into it too. Song’s picking up.
Believe in me
Help me believe in anything
I want to be someone who believes
I do believe in you, Duritz. I wrote an entire blog post discussing every track of an album that was released 19 years ago. That’s all for you, man. Also, this song is amazing.
Mr. Jones and me tell each other fairy tales
Stare at the beautiful women
“She’s looking at you. Ah, no, no, she’s looking at me.”
Duritz seems to be doing a lot of staring in this song. First the blond-haired girl at New Amsterdam, now these other random beautiful women. She probably is looking at me, because you’re just creeping her out.
Smiling in the bright lights
Coming through in stereo
When everybody loves you, you can never be lonely
Reason 3,432 why this song kicks ass: it really does capture the dream of wanting to be a rock star. I want to smile in bright lights. I want to come through in stereo. I want everyone to love me. THIS SONG IS ABOUT ME!!!!
I will paint my picture
Paint myself in blue and red and black and gray
All of the beautiful colors are very very meaningful
Grey is my favorite color
I felt so symbolic yesterday
If I knew Picasso
I would buy myself a gray guitar and play
I guess it can’t all be Spanish dancing and flamenco dancers, but the first verse was a lot more fun. I mean, painting? Fortunately, I’m so into dancing and singing along at this point that I usually pay no attention to the lyrics.
Mr. Jones and me look into the future
Stare at the beautiful women
“She’s looking at you.
Uh, I don’t think so. She’s looking at me.”
Standing in the spotlight
I bought myself a gray guitar
When everybody loves me, I will never be lonely
This is basically a repeat of earlier. Duritz is still staring at women. We’re still trying to determine which one of us this girl is looking at. There’s a good chance she’s looking at both of us because we’re standing beside each other arguing over who is correct. Duritz has added a gray guitar to the mix. Things are looking good.
The Crows slow it down for a few seconds after the previous chorus. They do this because it is impossible to play a song this bad-ass without taking a minor break. They’re coming back though. Oh yea. They’ll be back. Here they are.
I want to be a lion
Everybody wants to pass as cats
We all want to be big big stars, but we got different reasons for that
I’ve always found “everybody wants to pass as cats” to be one of the coolest lyrics around, and I have absolutely no idea what it means. I don’t think I want to be a cat, but I feel like maybe I should after this song. That’s how cool it is. Also, we all do want to be big stars. No getting around that.
Believe in me because I don’t believe in anything
and I want to be someone to believe
Anyone else notice that Duritz is getting pretty needy? I hope he’s not voicing all of these insecurities at this party we’re trying to have. We believe in you. Jesus.
Mr. Jones and me stumbling through the barrio
Yeah we stare at the beautiful women
Great! Now, not only are we still staring at women, but we are stumbling around drunk and using random Spanish words. That will knock ’em dead.
“She’s perfect for you, Man, there’s got to be somebody for me.”
She stumbles around wasted and stares at people too? She is perfect. For both of us.
I want to be Bob Dylan
Mr. Jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky
I do wish I was Bob Dylan. Who doesn’t?
When everybody loves you, son, that’s just about as funky as you can be
Wrong. When you are Prince, you are as funky as you can be. Everyone else is just failing.
Let’s end it in style, Duritz:
Mr. Jones and me staring at the video
When I look at the television, I want to see me staring right back at me
We all want to be big stars, but we don’t know why and we don’t know how
But when everybody loves me, I’m going to be just about as happy as can be
Mr. Jones and me, we’re gonna be big stars..
Did I mention that I love this song? This is the song that sparked this entire futile exercise and it’s the song that we’ve still been unable to replace. I’ll take a look at a few others over the next couple of weeks, but this one is going to be hard to beat. So long, Duritz. It’s been a blast!