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"This is a song about me," lead singer Adam Duritz said of this song on Counting Crows VH1 Storytellers appearance. Said Duritz: "The song begins with a guy walking out the front door of his house and leaving behind this woman. But the more he begins to leave people behind in his life, the more he feels like he's leaving leaving himself behind as well, and the less substantial he feels about himself. That's sort of what the song's about: even as he disappears from the lives of people, he's disappearing more and more from his own life."
This song dates back to Adam Duritz' days in a band called the Himalayans, which he joined when he was a student at the University of California. That band - guitarist Dan Jewett, bass player Dave Janusko and drummer Chris Roldan - wrote the music for the song, to which Duritz added lyrics. The song became their most popular at concerts, and when Duritz formed Counting Crows, he brought the song with him. With his new bandmates Steve Bowman, David Bryson, Charlie Gillingham and Matt Malley, he worked up a new version of the song that was included on their first album, August And Everything After. Duritz made sure to credit everyone in both bands with writing the song, so "Round Here" has eight different writers listed on the composer credits.
The theme of childhood promises not panning out is one that shows up a lot in Duritz' lyrics. In the chorus of this song, he lists some sayings that our parents often say: "Around here we always stand up straight," "Around here we're carving out our names."
Said Duritz: "You're told as a kid that if you do these things, it will add up to something: you'll have a job, you life. And for me, and for the character in the song, they don't add up to anything, it's all a bunch of crap. Your life comes to you or doesn't come to you, but those things didn't really mean anything.
By the end of the song, he's so dismayed that he's screaming out that he gets to stay up as late as he wants and nobody makes him wait; the things that are important to a kid - you don't have to go to bed, you don't have to do anything. But they're the sort of things that don't make any difference at all when you're an adult. They're nothing."
At the time, Counting Crows didn't release singles in America, and it wasn't until 1998 that Billboard allowed songs to chart on their Hot 100 that weren't released as singles. As a result, the song is a chart anomaly: a very popular song that never showed up. It did make #31 on the Airplay chart, which was later integrated in the Hot 100. The group didn't release singles so listeners would be compelled to buy the albums - a far more lucrative purchase, and arguably a more complete listening experience.
The band often plays extended versions of this song at concerts, which can be heard on the 10 minute performance on the song on their 2013 live album Echoes of the Outlaw Roadshow
. "I think one of the nice things about playing music is a sense that whatever I want to do is okay," Adam Duritz said in our 2013 interview
. "As long as I'm really expressing something, then any way I want to express the song, it's fine."
Counting Crows made a video for this song, which was directed by Mark Neale, who would later direct The Verve Pipe's video for "The Freshman
" and the documentary Faster
. It was the second video the band made (following "Mr. Jones
"), and the last one they made for the album, since Adam Duritz wanted the band to scale back promotion when they became wildly popular. "I saw people around me putting out records that got a little too big, and that was the end of them," Duritz told us. "I didn't want that for us, so I stopped it."
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