Saturday, February 14, 2009

Counting Crows Analysis and Lyrics

Andrew Swiderski
Poetry of Song
Ms. Malone
February 13, 2009
Song-Lyric Analysis

The Counting Crows is arguably the best band of their decade due to their symbolic lyrics and catchy tunes. The band formed in 1991 and debuted in August 1993 with their album, August and Everything After. The album featured multiple hits including Omaha, Round Here, and Mr. Jones. The Counting Crows produced seven popular albums that earned them high praise and respect among various bands at the time. These albums promoted more than one specific theme, expanding to a plethora of themes and ideals. The song, Mr. Jones, is perhaps the most valued among listeners today. This song can be classified as epic because it is still highly valued by listeners even fifteen years after the release date and demonstrates the use of several poetic devices effectively while portraying the themes of struggle, envy, and originality.
In the song, Mr. Jones, the Counting Crows convey the themes of struggle, envy, and originality. The narrator describes his struggle to fame, while his friend/co-worker, Mr. Jones, is perceived to be much more popular with the crowd, especially the ladies. He repeats “When everybody loves you, you can never be lonely,” throughout the song to emphasize his desire to achieve fame. His ideology is that if this can be achieved, he will “never be lonely.” Through the first half of the song, it is very well apparent that the narrator envies the attention Mr. Jones has, especially from the ladies. This is shown through a few conversations he and Mr. Jones share when “staring at the beautiful women.” However, the narrator was able to attain this fame he desires by simply being his regular, ordinary self. Shortly before receiving this status, he describes his situation as, “Standing in the spotlight I bought myself a gray guitar.” The color of his newly purchased guitar represents his originality and plainness without attempting to alter his previous ways of life to achieve his glorified fame. Each of these themes are effectively described throughout the song so well that its epicness only increases.
This song efficiently uses poetic devices on several occasions, including symbolism, to contribute to its epicness. Symbolism is repeated in a myriad of effective manners. Mr. Jones represents the personality the narrator wishes he possessed in order to gain his coveted fame. The “picture” the narrator paints for himself depicts the life he wants. This picture has many popular and generally symbolic colors in literature, such as blue, red, and black. However, it also contains a very key element, gray. The gray represents the narrator’s devotion to originality and being his ordinary self, as explained when saying “If I knew Picasso I would buy myself a gray guitar and play.” Another prime example of symbolism occurs at the start of the fifth stanza, when the narrator says “I want to be a lion. Everybody wants to pass as cats.” It is self-evident that a lion is superior to cats in the feline family. This comparison of the two portrays his desire to achieve only what the sky can limit.
Metaphors and irony were other key contributors to this song’s epicness as seen through poetic devices. The most essential example of this was described when the narrator says, “I want to be Bob Dylan.” This line is metaphorical and ironic simultaneously because it is ironic for this line to occur near the end of the song, when he is interpreted as having already succeeded in achieving the desired fame. Bob Dylan is notorious for playing a role in the Rock And Roll movement in mid-20th century U.S.
This background information irrefutably questions the motive behind the rational for the
placement of the line. However, imperfections are always treasured in epic songs like this because the additional thought from controversial questions that arise simply contribute to its epicness.
Mr. Jones is without a doubt one of the single-most epic songs in the decade of the 1990’s. Its use of poetic devices effectively, while promoting original themes only assist the argument of the level of epicness this song possesses. These poetic devices include metaphors, irony, and most importantly, symbolism. The amount of symbolism and its effect on a single song like Mr. Jones is prodigious. Mr. Jones successfully promotes the themes struggle, envy, and originality in a variety of effective manners. The combination of the two while being a popular song today, fifteen years later, provides indisputable evidence of the argument that the song, Mr. Jones by Counting Crows, is truly and utterly epic in every sense of the word.

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
She dances while his father plays guitar
She's suddenly beautiful
We all want something beautiful
I wish I was beautiful

So come dance this silence down through the morning
Cut Maria! Show me some of them Spanish dances
Pass me a bottle, Mr. Jones
Believe in me
Help me believe in anything
I want to be someone who believes

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."
Smiling in the bright lights
Coming through in stereo
When everybody loves you, you can never be lonely

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 colorI felt so symbolic yesterday
If I knew Picasso
I would buy myself a gray guitar and play

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

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
Believe in me because I don't believe in anything
and I want to be someone to believe

Mr. Jones and me stumbling through the barrio
Yeah we stare at the beautiful women
"She's perfect for you, Man, there's got to be somebody for me."
I want to be Bob Dylan
Mr. Jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky
When everybody loves you, son, that's just about as funky as you can be

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..

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