The lone summer I spent in Berkeley was capped off with one of the best concerts I have ever had the pleasure of attending. Though this might not appear to be saying much, since almost all of the concerts I have been to have been The. Best. Concerts. EVER!, this one proved inspirational in its own way.
I bought tickets to see the Counting Crows several months in advance, in the hopes that it would be something for me to look forward to after my biochemistry final, and a good excuse for my dad to come hang out with me in the Bay Area for a couple days. It seemed too perfect to see a Berkeley-cultivated band play live in Berkeley, and if I’m being totally honest, it was one of the only things that got me through that horrific final exam (but let’s forget about that part).
I had become a professional concert prep-er by then, courtesy of my musically-devoted housemates, and my boss at the time was kind enough to let me listen to music while I was at work too. In all honesty, I didn’t need to prep that hard—this was the music playing as a backdrop to my childhood, and one of my dad’s favorite bands. However, I did get myself up to speed on some of the newer material, and familiarized myself with the opener (Toad the Wet Sprocket, also one of my dad’s favorite bands, also deceptively familiar to me). While everyone was playing whatever new music that was coming out at the time, my summer soundtrack was an old favorite, brought to life again.
As I listened closely and spent some quality time with the music, I found myself cycling through their debut album, August and Everything After, on repeat (be proud of me, Snow!). I was drawn to these particular songs for the same reason that I am drawn to all of my favorite music: the poetry in the lyrics. I am still of the opinion that very few vocalists are capable of the same kind of story-telling prowess that lead singer Adam Duritz embodies, but I suppose I am a biased party. Regardless, I still think there is so much to be said for listening to your favorite music with a copy of the lyrics in front of you, and really appreciating the prose component as you listen. It’s one of my favorite literary analysis side projects (more to come about this!), and I think everyone should try it with several favorite songs—you never know what you may find hidden behind a familiar tune.
Every time I listen to this album now, I am drawn back to what was one of the most memorable summers of my life, filled with the best of friends, unexpected adventures, and shenanigans only college students can dream up. Several years and many excellent concerts later, I still think very little can beat hearing the opening chords of Round Here spilling out into the Berkeley hills. The nostalgia runs even deeper now, and I hesitate to see them live again, for fear it cannot even compare to my first experience…but I still have a tab open on my computer for tickets at The Forum. 🙂
Set list and album cover from the Counting Crows.