By Counting Crows
A bit of a curious one this. A re-release of the opener from Counting Crows' third album 'This Desert Life' in a new '04 Rock Mix' guise. There are more obvious choices for re-release, songs from fourth album 'Hard Candy' that warrant a release (Holiday In Spain being the most notable) or even new song 'She Don't Want Nobody Near' from the recent 'Best Of...'. That said 'Hanginaround' gets a good reception live... but that's the cool laidback version, this new mix takes away the laziness of the beat in favour of a more straight ahead groove whilst a lot of the backing vocals have been removed. It's still a good song no doubt with an infectious guitar hook, but it was a better song before it was tinkered with. It still retains its radio friendly charm however and should help keep the Crows in the spotlight in the UK. A live version of the Grateful Dead's 'Friend Of The Devil' follows, it's a fine song and it's performed superbly, singer Adam Duritz slipping into the skin of the narrator with ease. All story songs should be this good.
The reason this single may rocket up the singles chart however is the inclusion of a live performance of 'August and Everything After' the song that was destined to be the title track of the band's debut album. Apparently the recording of the track wasn't going so well so Duritz started playing another song he'd been working on to take a little break, unaware the tape was still rolling. That song was 'Raining In Baltimore' and ended up going straight onto the album. 'August...' is a song in a similar vein, just Duritz at a piano. "I've only played this literally 3 times in my entire life" he announces. There's some stumbling and even a "shit" as he works his way through this gentle whisper of a song. We're re-introduced to Maria who crops up in many of Duritz's lyrics, much the way Springsteen's Wendy or Mary became familiar characters. He's looking back and reflecting on being in these moments rather than actually being there. There's no doubt that Duritz is one of the greatest songwriters of recent times, a man who will unquestionably be mentioned alongside Dylan, Springsteen and Neil Young in years to come. Fans who have been waiting for this for 10 years won't be disappointed and once new listeners get to track 3 neither will they.