Eye-Opening Revelations About Adam Duritz's Chronic Loneliness

My buddy Collins recently burned me an album he downloaded (in a probably less than legal manner) of a Counting Crows concert recorded during their first tour, still a couple months away from the release of August and Everything After. It's a fun performance with surprisingly good sound quality, and the set list is notable for the fact that it doesn't include "Mr. Jones" but does feature a cover of Van Morrison's "Caravan" as well as solid renditions of "Marjorie" and "Open All Night," the latter of which has yet to see official release.But what strikes me most is how the songs from August and Everything take on a new life when hearing them across the span of 15 years. Frontman Adam Duritz is still riffing on his own melodies so much that you sympathize with the bandmates tasked with singing harmony, but he's also more in control than he would be on later live outings, probably because he wanted to give the audience as good an idea as possible of what the songs would actually sound like when the album came out. As such, he's more lyrically clear than you'd expect to hear on a live recording, and I find myself only now learning a few snatches of lines I thought I learned when I was in high school. The best example of this is on "Time and Time Again," a plaintive song that immediately follows "Anna Begins" on the studio album, the one-two punch of which is guaranteed to unmake you. It's been years since I looked at the liner notes to read the lyrics, and over that time my brain has filled in gaps caused by Duritz's occasionally hectic phrasing. For this reason, whenever I heard the chorus of "Time and Time Again," I always thought he was singing, "Time and time again / I can't believe myself / and I can't believe nobody else," compressing the "believe" into something like "b'lieve" in his emotional frenzy. And that word works; it gives the song an air of disillusionment and goes nicely with the sense of loss and possible betrayal seen in the rest of the lyrics. (The guy definitely has a theme.) But that's not at all right. He's actually singing, "Time and time again / I can't please myself / And I can't please nobody else." And this makes the song whole worlds sadder. He's no longer singing about losing someone and feeling adrift; he's taking the burden on himself, realizing with a sinking feeling that he's partly or completely to blame for what's happened. He can't make himself happy, or anyone else, but he still howls, "When are you coming home, sweet angel?" I thought I knew the song, and I almost did. But this one's better.