Rain King

Album: August And Everything After (1993)
Charted: 49 66
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  • Lyrics
  • A band composition, lead singer Adam Duritz wrote the lyrics to this song. He got the title from the book Henderson the Rain King, which was written by Saul Bellow in 1959. Duritz read the book when was a student at the University of California, where he was an English major. A few years later, he wrote the song, including the line "Henderson is waiting for the sun" as a reference to the main character, Eugene Henderson, who is a guy that disrupts the lives of others, making a mess of everything around him.

    The song isn't about the book specifically, but relates to how Duritz felt about his art. On Counting Crows VH1 Storytellers special, he explained: "The book became a totem for how I felt about creativity and writing: it was this thing where you took everything you felt inside you and just sprayed it all over everything. It's a song about everything the goes into writing, all the feelings, everything that makes you want to write and pick up a guitar and express yourself. It's full of all the doubts and the fears about how I felt about my life at the time."
  • Duritz has said that his songs are very personal, and he is indeed the Rain King he sings about on this track. He considers it a very spiritual song about the forces that spur creativity and energize art. It's similar in concept to Steven Tyler's "Mama Kin."
  • In America, Counting Crows didn't release any songs from August And Everything After as singles, which worked well for them when the album sold over 7 million copies there. Duritz says that "Rain King" is the song he felt would be their most popular, but radio stations made "Mr. Jones" the hit. On the Billboard Airplay chart, "Round Here" and "Einstein On The Beach (For An Eggman)" where then next hits for the band, followed by "Rain King."
  • Counting Crows are known for going off-script during concerts, playing versions of songs that are very different from what you hear on the albums. "Rain King" was the first song they experimented with in this fashion, and it often turns into an improvised, extended jam.

    In our interview with Adam Duritz, he recalled a show in Vancouver opening a show for Suede and the Cranberries as the first time they tricked out the song. "I just said, 'Tonight in the middle of 'Rain King' after the solo, I'm going to give you a signal, everybody drop down,'" Adam said to his band before the show. "And they're like, 'What for, what are we going to do?' And I'm like, 'I've no idea. Something. I just want us to be the kind of band who can do this.' And they're like, 'Cool, let's try it.' So I did."
  • When Counting Crows perform this song live, they often integrate some of Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road" with it. Says Duritz: "I've never really played in cover bands, so the first time I tried it, I only got a little of the way through the song and then I forgot the rest of the words. Then I did it a few nights later and I got further through the song. And one time I got all the way through the song. It was cool. It just seemed interesting. Fun. A different way of looking at my song and that song together."

    Duritz adds that he shares Springsteen's affinity for putting lots of detail in his lyrics. "I think if you want to tell someone how you feel about them in a song, tell them what's on the walls in the room you're in," he says. "That really, as silly as it sounds, it works."
  • The band's label, Geffen Records, wanted to make a video for this song, but Adam Duritz refused, since he didn't want to get overexposed. "'Rain King' was the one that should have been coming out next," he told us. "I was like, 'I think we've gone far enough with this. Let's just stop so we can have a career.'"
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Comments: 2

  • Chris from UsaI always thought the song was about reincarnation? Lyrics such as "I've been here before" and "I belong in the service of a queen" or " I belong anywhere but in between" I thought the rain king was a reference to the water cycle that is continuous and never ending like reincarnation?
  • Tim from ClarkdaleFor me Rain King is about a poet/songwriter/artist- Adam D of course. He is a complicated man, highly literate and he must compose and express as all artists do. A brief attempt to define himself can only result in messy, multi-faceted poetic image, splattered onto paper. The word messy works well here as he is also careless with people, particularly those close to him. True artists like Adam know their art and the requisite emotions that generate it (such as loneliness) are the primary thing, the only thing that matters. All other concerns are subordinate such as pesky women, whose fragile little hearts are routinely crushed. He is like a professional heartbreaker and I think quite conscious of what he is doing. I think Adam would be OK with me saying that most geniuses are a PITA. Love them at your own risk.
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