I declared Counting Crows' Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings the Best Album of 2008 and I took some shit for it. I skimmed the rest of my list and I stand by it. I'd move Coldplay's Viva up a few slots from where it is, but I'm pretty happy with the 10 albums I chose and I know why I chose SN&SM as my #1 and I still feel that way. So why haven't I listened to it more this year?
It's not uncommon for me to OD on a record, declare it a year's best, and then need some time away from it. Sometimes absence makes the heart grow founder and in some instances it's goodbye and good riddance. Flipping the channels the other night, I saw Counting Crows performing on Soundstage. Two things jumped out at me: one, these guys can really play live and two, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings is a fabulous record.
I've been accused of being a "lyrics" guy by some of my music-obsessed brethren and I do pay attention to them, but it's shocking the number of songs I love whose lyrics I couldn't recite at gun point. When SN&SM came out, I listened to it religiously but didn't dig deep into what Adam Duritz was really saying. It wasn't until I had the privilege to talk to him and got a detailed listeners' guide to the record that I came close to getting where he was coming from. That was great for me, but I now realize it was all there to begin with if I'd concentrated. I might not have gotten all the subtleties of it, but it was clear what he was doing if you were paying attention.
John Lennon wrote "living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see." It's amazing how easy it is to see something once someone opens your eyes and opens you to it. Duritz did that for me in the interview. I went back and listened and listened some more and I felt like I was picking up more and more of the power of the ideas in the music. Then I started watching the Soundstage performance and while introducing the songs, Duritz again lifts the curtain and I can't believe how stupid I feel to have missed obvious signs… again.
In "Insignificance," the character in the song is feeling so disconnected from the world that he's looking down on it from the ledge of a building wondering if the only way he'll ever feel anything is to jump. As Duritz said repeatedly about the Saturday Nights part of the record, Saturday nights are about going out and getting crazy and fucked up and annihilating yourself. They're about trying to feel something, even if it's something desperate or base.
In the chorus, he sings:
I don't want to feel so different
but I don't want to feel insignificant
And I don't know how to see the same things
He wants a connection. He's looking out at people and he knows what he's feeling — or not feeling — separates him from them. The conjunction "but" is interesting in this passage. He doesn't want to feel different but he also doesn't want to feel insignificant. Is he afraid that by being like everyone else, he'll be just another face in that crowd? If you substitute the word "and" for "but," you get a very different feel. The final lines give us a little more information: he's confused. He knows he doesn't want to feel the way he does now but he doesn't seem quite sure of what the world would be like from the safety of the ground because he's been on that ledge for so long.
It's been over a year since Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings was released and I'm still pulling things from it, thanks to Adam Duritz. Take your time on that follow up, guys. I've still got work to do with this one.
On an unrelated note, today marks the 50th entry in my new Verse Chorus Verse series. Fifty consecutive days is a major milestone and record for me and one I'm quite proud of. Thanks to everyone who has taken time to read. I look forward to the next 50. If you've missed any, you can find them on the VCV series page exclusively at Blogcritics.