Mr. Cruz and Me (A Blog Post about a Bob Dylan Reference in a Counting Crows Song)

One thing that happened because of the 1990s is I came to the realization that there are artists who I would believe to be pretty lame if I’d never heard a song by them other than their big hit. A short list includes Radiohead, Afghan Whigs, Beck, and The Rentals. Don’t tell Miguel. He might find it a bit controversial that I wasn’t all that into “Friends of P.”

The Rentals – Friends of P

Speaking of Miguel and groups who I wouldn’t have been all that impressed by if I hadn’t heard more songs, I have a long distance dedication for Miguel by prominent 90s artists Counting Crows. “Mr. Jones” holds a special place in my heart, in that it could have very easily not held a place in my heart at all. It was this odd form of song that was starting to crop up where the song begins, the singer starts to sing, and then the singer never shuts up the rest of the song, like this song by Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories that also fits the description of “It’s a damn good thing I heard other songs by Lisa Loeb that I liked.”

Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories – Stay (I Missed You)

There’s at least a very brief part of “Stay” where the band pretends that they might continue on without vocals, but it doesn’t really happen. When Counting Crows released “Mr. Jones” there was no intention of letting the music breathe, and I really didn’t like the song. It wasn’t until I heard “Round Here” that I questioned my original opinion of Counting Crows. I’ll probably talk about the album “August and Everything After” in a future blog post.

I’m having trouble remembering who bought “August and Everything After” but I finally got a chance to listen and to know that I liked Counting Crows after all. I even warmed to “Mr. Jones” within the context of the album. I realized that the best part of “Mr. Jones” for me was the lyrics. Funny enough, they reminded me of my pal, Miguel Cruz, who would never claim that the lyrics were the best part of anything.

Mr. Cruz and me were dreamers back in the 90s. We did tell each other fairy tales, in an odd way, while we stared at the beautiful women, and dreamed of the day when everybody loved us. We didn’t drink at bars, but not every lyric can be perfect. It’s for this reason that I became fixated on the most telling lyric of the song, “I wanna be Bob Dylan, Mr. Jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky.”

Counting Crows – Mr. Jones

You see, Miguel came up idolizing riff driven music with a definite groove. He didn’t like this jangling chord Bob Dylan wannabe nonsense *mumbles* you know, like Counting Crows. I have only ever had a series of passing fancies with Bob Dylan’s work, meaning that every so often I find a Bob Dylan song I like and obsess on it for a while, but I never listen to Bob Dylan obsessively. He’s a brilliant lyricist though, and he does write amazing music, and if I had aspirations of being as renowned as a singer/songwriter as Bob Dylan, well I guess it’s not hard to understand why. I may not have wanted to be Bob Dylan, but I could relate to the idea, and Mr. Cruz he definitely wanted to be someone just a little more funky. I mean, not Red Hot Chili Peppers funky or Blind Melon funky or I, Mother Earth funky. Just a little more funky.

All this to say that I recently clicked onto “Ballad of a Thin Man” thinking that I must have heard it at some point in my life, but couldn’t for the life of me remember what it sounded like. I had heard it at some point, but certainly not in the last 25 years of my life or I most certainly would have realized why Adam Duritz of Counting Crows picked the name Mr. Jones for his tale of two dreamers enjoying each other’s company. And for as bleak as the future might be for Mr. Jones and his companion in the world of Counting Crows, it’s nowhere near as bleak as it is for the thin man in Dylan’s world.

Bob Dylan – Ballad of a Tin Man

Chris McGinty is a blogger who wants to be Seth Godin, Mr. Stout wishes he was Seth Godin too, but more for Seth Godin’s following than his writing, probably.

Leave a Reply