Mr. Jones (Counting Crows song)

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"Mr. Jones"
Single by Counting Crows
from the album August and Everything After
Released December 1993
Format CD single
Genre Alternative rock
Length 4:32
Label Geffen
Writer(s) Adam Duritz, David Bryson
Producer(s) T-Bone Burnett
Counting Crows singles chronology
"Mr. Jones"
(1993)
"Round Here"
(1994)
Music sample

"Mr. Jones" is a song by American alternative rock band Counting Crows. It is the lead single and third track from their debut album, August and Everything After (1993). It was the band's first radio hit and remains their most popular single.

History[edit]

"Mr. Jones" entered the American Top 40 on February 19, 1994, and entered the Top 10 five weeks later. On April 23, "Mr. Jones" passed R. Kelly's "Bump n' Grind", taking the number-one position (which it surrendered, the following week, to Prince's "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World").[1]

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. Said Duritz 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...".[2] These events and feelings were the basis for "Catapult", the first track of Recovering the Satellites.

According to Duritz, 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.'"[3]

Lyrics and performances[edit]

The primary topic of the song itself is perhaps how two struggling musicians (Duritz and bassist Marty Jones of The Himalayans) "want to be big stars," believing that "when everybody loves me, I will never be lonely." Duritz would later recant these values, and in later concert appearances, "Mr. Jones" was played in a subdued acoustic style, if at all.[2] 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," and "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."[4]

The song is often interpreted differently. Some believe it is a thinly veiled reference to the protagonist of Bob Dylan's "Ballad of a Thin Man",[5] a theory supported by the lyric "I wanna be Bob Dylan, Mr. Jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky." Others[who?] have suggested that Mr. Jones refers to flamenco guitarist David Serva (Marty Jones's father), although the lyric "she dances while his father plays guitar" seems to suggest Mr Jones' father is another separate character within the song.[citation needed] Another possibility is that Mr. Jones is an imaginary friend, or Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols.[citation needed]

In a 2013 interview, Duritz explained that the song is named for his friend Marty Jones, but that is about Duritz himself.[6] "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, but if we'd — you know, we were just thinking if we were rock stars, it'd be easier," Duritz said. "I went home and wrote the song."

When the Counting Crows performed the song during the Recovering the Satellites tour, it would often include the first verse from The Byrds' "So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star?" This version was often acoustic and was even performed on VH1's Storytellers.[citation needed]

Cover versions[edit]

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.

Accolades[edit]

Year Association Category Result
1994 MTV Video Music Awards Best New Artist Won

Track listings[edit]

  1. "Mr. Jones" (LP version) – 4:32
  2. "Raining in Baltimore" (LP version) – 4:42
  3. "Mr. Jones" (acoustic version) – 4:44
  4. "Rain King" (acoustic version) – 5:10

Credits and personnel[edit]

  • 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[7]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1993–1994) Peak
position
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[8] 13
Austrian Singles Chart[8] 27
Canadian RPM Singles Chart[9] 1
Dutch Mega Top 100[8] 42
French SNEP Singles Chart[8] 7
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart[8] 49
UK Singles Chart[10] 28
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks[11] 25
U.S. Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks[11] 2
U.S. Billboard Top 40 Mainstream[11] 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Airplay 5

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Counting Crows". Rock On The Net. 2012. Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Spendlove, Barry (4 July 1999). "The new Counting Crows FAQ (Version 3)". Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Pontell, Jonathan (2007). "Generation Jones". The Jonathan Pontell Group. Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "Counting Crows - Mr. Jones (Live Acoustic) Lyrics". Lyrics007. 2012. Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "Counting Crows & Shelby Lynne". Soundstage. PBS. August 2004. Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  6. ^ "Adam Duritz, Counting Crows Frontman, Reveals 'Mr. Jones'". 6 June 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "Mr. Jones – Counting Crows: Credits". Allmusic. 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Mr. Jones", in various singles charts Lescharts.com (Retrieved March 26, 2009)
  9. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 59, No. 8, March 14, 1994". RPM. Retrieved 2012-04-16. 
  10. ^ "COUNTING CROWS". The Official UK Charts Company. 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c "Mr. Jones – Counting Crows". Billboard. 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012.