We could simply pack our back
and catch a plane to Barcelona
'cause this city's a drag
View from Gaudi Park
One of the greatest aspects of Counting Crows' music has to be the lyrics of front man Adam Duritz. He’s able to conjure up some of the most vivid imagery and poignant emotions I’ve ever heard. It’s pure poetry. And during those times I’m feeling particularly melancholy, Counting Crows is one of my go-to bands.
"Holiday in Spain," from the 2002 album Hard Candy
, is one of my favorite of the Crows’ tunes. The lyrics, at face value, tell the story of the narrator’s frustration with the life of fame and fortune, predominantly living in Southern California. He sings about love affairs with women, drugs, booze, and expensive status symbols. He desperately needs an escape – a vacation. His suggestion is for him and his friends (or perhaps a lover) to take a getaway to Barcelona. I may take a holiday in Spain, leave my wings behind me. Flush my worries down the drain and fly away to somewhere new.
Located along the Mediterranean in the northeastern corner of Spain, the city of Barcelona is the country’s second largest city and is considered by many to be one of the world’s major global cities. Barcelona’s influence expands well beyond the borders of Spain in many industries, including education, entertainment, sports, media, fashion, science, economics, trade, and tourism. It has been a destination for relaxation by people all over the globe (including Californians).
A sculpture in Barcelona
The city’s founding is quite interesting, as there are two competing legends to Barcelona’s beginning. The first claims that the Greek mythological character Hercules was involved, while the second attributes it to an historical figure: Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca, who fathered Hannibal, the military commander during the First Punic War. The former states that while Hercules joined Jason and the Argonauts on their quest to find the Golden Fleece, one of their nine ships was lost in a storm off the Catalan coast and Hercules discovered the location for the city.
The city’s cultural roots stretch back 2,000 years, to when it was the center of the Catalan society. Today it’s a bilingual city with both Spanish and Catalan being official languages. Every year several million tourists descend upon the city, making Barcelona the 10th most visited in the world and the 3rd in Europe. Additionally, Barcelona contains quite a large number of beautifully constructed buildings, including cathedrals, palaces, and world heritage sites (UNESCO), as well as natural parks and beaches – some, if not all, of which may have been the reason for Duritz’s desire to escape to the Iberian peninsula.
On June 10th, 1997 – five years before the release of "Holiday in Spain" – Duritz and Counting Crows performed in Barcelona at a venue named the Zelste. Not much is written about their trip and one wonders what might have occurred during those few days that left such a profound impression on Duritz. As he said in his 2013 interview with Songfacts, "Songs got me through 30 years of my life." Perhaps Barcelona has helped him get through the rest.
~ Justin Novelli