Deconstructing the classic ROUND HERE by Counting Crows

Not because of the lead singer’s epic dreadlocks and facial hair, which I’d argue are less of an Epic Win and more of an Achy Breaky Big Mistakey.

There is no mistaking the genius of this song, though.

The music video may be nothing insanely special, but the actual song and lyrics are haunting and well-done.

Also, do not confuse Counting Crows with the Black Crows, a completely different band. The Black Crows singer dated or married that blonde actress from ALMOST FAMOUS, while the Counting Crows singer dated the blonde actress who was married to Brad Pitt.

Here’s the video in all of it’s ancient, low-res glory:

Now let’s dive into the words.

ROUND HERE

Step out the front door like a ghost
into the fog where no one notices
the contrast of white on white.
Oh, this is poetry, and light years beyond the juvenile lyrics of your typical pop song. What a great beginning.

And in between the moon and you
the angels get a better view
of the crumbling difference between wrong and right.
He’s not done! More poetry, with moral ambiguity and shades of gray that don’t involve bad TWILIGHT fanfic. Beautiful, and not a single “Oh baby oh baby” in sight.

I walk in the air between the rain
through myself and back again
Where? I don’t know
Translation: I am overcome with ennui and existential angst. Or I killed a bottle of Maker’s Mark and wandered outside at 2 a.m. during a thunderstorm. You pick.

Maria says she’s dying
through the door I hear her crying
Why? I don’t know
Translation: Women, they confuse me. There is no handbook, and I am not a medical doctor, though college professors who insist upon being addressed as “Doctor” are pretentious nancypants. You’re not a doctor unless you wear a stethoscope and wield a scalpel.

[Chorus:]
Round here we always stand up straight
Round here something radiates
Translation: This town has a special something, unlike other towns and all the faceless suburbs where if you dropped somebody in the middle of the strip malls and Applebee’s, they wouldn’t know whether it was the outskirts of Atlanta, Seattle or San Jose, with the same Home Depots and Staples and Taco Bells wherever you go. Our town is unique, in good and bad ways. There also could be radioactive waste coming from an old nuke plants. Not sure yet.

Maria came from Nashville with a suitcase in her hand
she said she’d like to meet a boy who looks like Elvis.
Hey, Elvis is still hot.

She walks along the edge of where the ocean meets the land
just like she’s walking on a wire in the circus.
Back to poetry! A great line.

She parks her car outside of my house
takes her clothes off
says she’s close to understanding Jesus.
She knows she’s just a little misunderstood.
She has trouble acting normal when she’s nervous
Translation: Girl be crazy.

[Chorus:]
Round here we’re carving out our names.
Round here we all look the same.
Round here we talk just like lions
but we sacrifice like lambs.
Round here she’s slipping through my hands
Translation: This town is rather homogeneous, with big talkers who cave under pressure, and yes, that’s how you spell homogeneous. It has that many “e’s” for some stupid reason. Also, despite the low bar for normal behavior and courage around here, I’m losing the Crazy Hot Girl, emphasis on crazy.

Sleeping children better run like the wind
out of the lightning dream.
Mama’s little baby better get herself in
out of the lightning.
Translation: Maybe I should stop chugging this bottle of Maker’s Mark out in the rain.

She says, It’s only in my head.
She says, Shhh I know it’s only in my head.
But the girl in car in the parking lot
says, “Man you should try to take a shot
can’t you see my walls are crumbling?”
Then she looks up at the building
and says she’s thinking of jumping.
She says she’s tired of life.
She must be tired of something.
Translation: This town has worn the girl down so much, she may give me a shot at a relationship, even if it’s only physical. Or she might jump off a building. Flip a coin. Also, girl be CRAZY.

[Chorus:]
Round here she’s always on my mind.
Round here hey man got lots of time.
Round here we’re never sent to bed early
and nobody makes us wait.
Round here we stay up very, very, very, very late.
Translation: Though the Crazy Hot Girl is flawed and troubled, I’m haunted by her, so much so that I’m sleepless. Also, there’s no curfew. At all.

I can’t see nothin’, nothin’, round here.
Translation: Opportunities in this town are rare. 

No, you catch me when I’m falling.
You catch me if I’m falling.
You catch me if I’m falling down on you.
Translation: As the great philosopher Cher said, “I’ve got you, babe.”

Oh man I said, “I’m under the gun”
round here.
I have no idea what this means and whether this gun is literal or metaphorical. No clue.

Oh man I said, “I’m under the gun”
round here.
And I can’t see nothing, nothing,
round here.
Translation: I, too, see the merit in Crazy Hot Girl’s diagnosis of this town as being a hopeless place, and I may consider drowning myself in cases of Marker’s Mark or adopting her plan of swan-diving off a building. Or I’ll write sad songs about it, make bazillions and date hot actresses. Not sure yet.

8 thoughts on “Deconstructing the classic ROUND HERE by Counting Crows

  1. I saw them on letterman yrs. ago doing round here’ they were soo different , now Im putting it on my little bar bands song list, and singing it myself, not well, but the style leaves wide margins, and the lyrics carry most of the weight.

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  2. I’m confused as to what part of the lyrics is actually the chorus… If someone could enlighten me (I don’t know if that is even the correct use of the word “enlighten”) as to what the lyrics are of the chorus, I’d greatly appreciate it.

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  3. Sweet. Yes, girl be crazy for sure. I’ve always been partial to Rain King, though I think because I am partial to Henderson the Rain King, so I’m probably biased there.

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  4. Guy, you are amazing. I had never heard the song although I recognized the group Counting Crows. Also recognized the Black Crows, Elvis and Cher.

    Marker’s Mark is familiar and sometimes it will make me write a tune or two. Next one I write I’ll send to you but you’ll probably destruct it straight to the trash. Maybe I need to meet a blonde.

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  5. Guy,
    This is indeed a great song – by coincidence I have been uploading music onto my iPod and came across August and Everything After and again realised what a great album it is. Perhaps it can be No. 10 in my blog series on classic albums (which is stalled at 9 because there are so many to choose from for the last spot that I can’t make up my mind!).

    Anyhow, this song is really hypnotic, not just because of the lyrics, but the melding of tension in the melody to with the lyrics. The lyrics are fantastic, the sign of a great song-writer, but the way the music is constructed magnifies the impact to get that haunting feeling of hopelessness, of being trapped without the courage to escape banality, to venture into somewhere or something new. And the crazy girl is a great symbol of that scary change which might be quite exciting but brings with it potential scorn and personal disaster. The lyrics and music work so well together in this case.

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