|Single by Counting Crows|
|from the album August and Everything After|
|Released||December 1, 1993|
|Counting Crows singles chronology|
Counting Crows – "Mr. Jones"
"Mr. Jones" is a song by American alternative rock band Counting Crows. It was released in December 1993 as the lead single and third track from their debut album, August and Everything After (1993). It was the band's first radio hit and has been described as a "breakout" single. "Mr. Jones" reached number seven in France, number five in the United States, and number one in Canada.
The band's surprise success happened to coincide with Kurt Cobain's death. These events took a significant toll on Adam Duritz, the lead vocalist and principal songwriter. Duritz said in an interview, "We heard that, that [Kurt] had shot himself. And it really scared the hell out of me because I thought, these things in my life are getting so out of control." These events and feelings were the basis for "Catapult", the first track of Recovering the Satellites.
According to Duritz (who was born in 1964), the song title had a hand in the naming by Jonathan Pontell of "Generation Jones", the group of people born between 1954 and 1965. "I feel honored that my song Mr. Jones was part of the inspiration for the name 'Generation Jones'."
Lyrics and performances
The song is about struggling musicians (Duritz and bassist Marty Jones of The Himalayans) who "want to be big stars," believing that "when everybody loves me, I will never be lonely." Duritz would later recant these values; and in some later concert appearances, "Mr. Jones" was played in a subdued acoustic style, if at all. On the live CD Across a Wire Duritz changes the lyrics "We all wanna be big, big stars, but we got different reasons for that" to "We all wanna be big, big stars, but then we get second thoughts about that"; he also changed the lyrics "when everybody loves you, sometimes that's just about as funky as you can be" to "when everybody loves you, sometimes that's just about as fucked up as you can be."
Some believe the song is a veiled reference to the protagonist of Bob Dylan's "Ballad of a Thin Man", based on the lyric "I wanna be Bob Dylan, Mr. Jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky." According to Adam Duritz on VH1 Storytellers, "It's really a song about my friend Marty and I. We went out one night to watch his dad play, his dad was a Flamenco guitar player who lived in Spain (David Serva), and he was in San Francisco in the mission playing with his old Flamenco troupe. And after the gig we all went to this bar called the New Amsterdam in San Francisco on Columbus."
In a 2013 interview, Duritz explained that even though the song is named for his friend Marty Jones, it is actually about Duritz himself. "I wrote a song about me, I just happened to be out with him that night," Duritz said. The inspiration for the song came as Duritz and Jones were drunk at a bar after watching Jones' father perform, when they saw Kenney Dale Johnson, longtime drummer for the musician Chris Isaak, sitting with three women. "It just seemed like, you know, we couldn't even manage to talk to girls, ... we were just thinking if we were rock stars, it'd be easier. I went home and wrote the song," Duritz said.
In the live version of the song, as on the album Across a Wire: Live in New York City, the first couplet of the song is a quotation of the 1967 song So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star by The Byrds.
|1994||MTV Video Music Awards||Best New Artist||Won|
- "Mr. Jones" (LP version) – 4:32
- "Raining in Baltimore" (LP version) – 4:42
- "Mr. Jones" (acoustic version) – 4:44
- "Rain King" (acoustic version) – 5:10
Credits and personnel
- Composers – David Bryson, Adam Duritz
- Performed by – Counting Crows
- Producers – T-Bone Burnett, Bruce Ranes
- Executive producer – Gary Gersh
- Mixing – Scott Litt, Patrick McCarthy
- Engineers – Patrick McCarthy, Bruce Ranes
- Photography – Michael Tighe
The band Hidden in Plain View did a cover of "Mr. Jones" which was released in 2004 on the album Dead and Dreaming: An Indie Tribute to the Counting Crows.
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