I told you Crash was going to show up a lot on this list. This one's special though, trust me.
I’m in my dorm room, and it’s raining outside. With me is my new friend Jessica, and we just had an unexpected and delightful make-out session. The sound of the rain... I can still hear it in the song. I swear it's part of the track.
In that blissful moment we are listening to this song and drinking the lyrical kool-aid. “Tonight let's be lovers… and tomorrow go back to being friends.” I mean, this diversion was fun and all, but long-term it's a terrible idea. So we should just stick with the original plan and be friends. This is totally going to work. No problem.
Spoiler: I married her. Not right then and there, god no. We were so young! Years later. The point is, I can't hear this song without thinking about the beginning of it all. The moment when we first really saw each other and what could be.
Jessica and I didn't go to the same school. We weren't so far away as to make crossing the distance impossible, but we only got to see each other on the occasional weekend. The difficulty was compounded by the fact that I didn't have a car, so mostly she had to come to me. But there were definitely times when I could make it out to her. And those times are deeply ingrained into me.
Jessica had painted her dorm room blue. This most definitely wasn't allowed by the school, but that didn't stop her. It was this beautiful soothing deep blue, with a print of Starry Night on the wall. It was sanctuary.
We spent a lot of time in that room together. Laying around, talking, and listening to music. This entire Counting Crows album is a big part of that. It's hard to pick out a single song to represent it. In the end I went with "Perfect Blue Buildings", in memory of her perfect blue room.
This song comes from those early times spent lounging about with Jessica. The Counting Crows weren't exactly a stretch for my palate; Erykah Badu was. But damn, this album is good. And not just as a collection of tracks, but as an album. It's got planned book ending with "Rimshot", which leads you in and out of the sound of the album. It's got songs in the progression that set up and then call back to each other. It was planned as a cohesive experience. And I love that.
Remember how not so long ago I was paying attention to lyrics? Yeah… don't think for a moment that that stuck. I was about to select a different song for this album, until I was informed that I had been mis-hearing the lyrics for, um, a decade. I thought the lyric was "still in bed", apparently it was "still livin'". Completely changed the song for me. Oh well, I still had "Certainly" and "On & On" as alternates.
It was time to ring in a new millennium. Most years I would let the new year drift in without much celebration, but this was a moment worthy of epic party. I ended up going to a show in Portland with Jessica, Kevin, and Billy. Somewhere in a box I have photos from this trip, taken on a commemorative disposable camera.
The headlining band was The String Cheese Incident. I had heard of them before, but never listened to them. They were another jam band in the style of the Dead or Phish. I'm sure their performance was perfectly fine, but there was so much else going on that it didn't really leave an impression on me. I did pick up an album to check them out, and remember getting a kick out of their cover of "Take Five".
After the New Year had come I remember seeing a bit on TV about the various celebrations around the world. Of course our little Portland dig wasn't featured, but they did show a full song from the epic Phish concert. It was weird to see Peter Jennings introduce this band that I'd spent so much time with.
The song was "Heavy Things", and in no way did I experience that song during my actual New Year's Eve celebration, but after the fact it became the song I associate with the event.
There were many acts at the millennial New Year's Eve show: musicians, jugglers, dancers. One single musician really captivated me. He would record little bits with his guitar and voice (mouth trumpet and all), and in real time layer them over each other. It started out simple, but over time created a full rich sound.
He was clearly a very talented guitarist and the act was fun to listen to, but the nature of this type of performance doesn't really transition to an album recording. He did have albums, but they're just so different from what he did that night. I think something that at least somewhat captures his one man band sound is "Brunette". It doesn't have the layering, but it's sure a whole lot of sound for just one guitar.