Maria (Counting Crows)

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Counting Crows songwriter Adam Duritz has said that Maria is a metaphor for himself: "I mean, she's me."[1]

Maria is a recurring character in the songs written by Adam Duritz, the songwriter and lead singer of Counting Crows. Maria has appeared in the lyrics of four Counting Crows songs and in two other songs written by Duritz, and has fueled speculation and debate among fans. Duritz contends that she is fictional, along with humans in general.

Appearances[edit]

Maria has appeared in six songs written by Duritz: twice in songs written for his first band, The Himalayans, and in four Counting Crows songs. All in all, Maria has been mentioned by name nine times in Duritz's discography,[2] appearing in three singles that made US charts, and two that cracked top ten lists.[3][4]

  • In "Way Home" (The Himalayans), Maria quietly talks to Adam, asking him what he sees.
  • In "Nothing but a Child" (The Himalayans), the speaker cryptically tells Maria to sail on, to burn her to the ground.
  • "Round Here," a song written by Duritz in his days with The Himalayans but released as the second single from Counting Crows' debut album, tells the story of Maria. The lyrics relate the story of a sad and lonely girl from Nashville who contemplates suicide.
  • In "Mr. Jones," a song about a night Duritz spent in a bar with Himalayans bassist Marty Jones, Maria is referenced. She seems to be a woman in the bar doing some "Spanish dances."
  • In "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby," Duritz makes a non-narrative, perhaps somewhat explanatory reference to Maria. He says, "There's a piece of Maria in every song that I sing."
  • In "August and Everything After," a song not included in the album named for it and only ever performed live more than ten years later, Maria is mentioned twice. The speaker wakes up Maria and then apologizes to her for the "coldhearted things" he has done.

Duritz's explanation[edit]

The most commonly accepted explanation of Maria is provided by Duritz in a single quote, often cited.

She's just an idea of someone I came up with when I was writing 'Round Here.' I mean, she's me. It's through the eyes of a girl, but it's someone very much like me struggling at the edge, not sure if she's going to fall off on one side or the other. It's a theme that's stuck through songs. So she keeps popping up.

This explanation seems to be accepted by most fans, including Lisa LeBarre, Counting Crows employee and creator of Counting Crows' biggest fan-site.[5]

Alternative theories[edit]

Still some fans contend that Duritz’s explanation of Maria is unsatisfactory. The fact that Duritz writes almost exclusively about real people and events has led some to believe that Maria is, or was, a real person.

An extensive investigation into the possible identity of a real-life 'Maria' by 801 Magazine journalist Steven Elwell, one in which he interviewed several friends of Duritz including the real-life "Mr. Jones" himself, concluded without a definitive answer. Elwell writes that in the end, the myth of Maria may be "lovelier than the awful truth," and that perhaps "it is better to leave such things alone."[6]

In the linear notes of Counting Crow's first album there is a thank you to Maria Mancuso Gersh. It has been said that Adam had stayed with Maria and her husband (president of Capitol Records at the time) Gary Gersh during this transitional time in Los Angeles.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lisa's Counting Crows Shrine - FAQ". Leave A Light On. 
  2. ^ "Lisa's Counting Crows Shrine - Lyrics". Leave A Light On. 
  3. ^ "August and Everything After - Charts". 
  4. ^ "This Desert Life - Charts". 
  5. ^ "Lisa's Counting Crows Shrine - FAQ". Leave A Light On. 
  6. ^ "A Problem Like Maria". Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.