Adam Duritz - Photo by Jim Gilbert / JTGPhotos.com
Adam Duritz is having a great year.
His New York Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup finals. His Oakland Raiders are improving after years of lackluster seasons. The Oakland A’s haven’t given him much to appreciate, except perhaps those days of the Bash Brothers, Dave Stewart starring down opposing hitters and Rickey Henderson swiping bases. The Golden State Warriors, however, made all the difference by winning the NBA title.
“I wanted to dunk,” said Duritz. What kid born out of Philly wouldn’t want to be able to dunk a basketball like Dr. J., Julius Erving, who played for the Sixers? Duritz wasn’t served that kind of hand. “It’s funny. I ended up with a job, like playing in the NBA, that everyone wants to do, but doesn’t.”
Duritz’s love for sports trickles into his band’s Twitter feed on occasion. The Counting Crows’ frontman took over the social media account more than a million followers ago. He calls it “Letters from Adam,” and as one would guess, he tweets a lot about music, too. But, not often about his own.
Lately, he’s been gushing over Citizen Cope and Hollis Brown. Both bands open for Counting Crows as the three tour the country this fall. The news feed reads like their fan club. The Zombies – they’re not here, they’re back in Britain from where they launched a pop music invasion back in the ‘60s – tweeted a congratulatory note to Hollis Brown. “They are killing it EVERY night,” Duritz tweeted back.
Duritz embraced social media before the phrase was coined with the explosion of MySpace, Facebook and the lot. He’d go into the Counting Crow chats room on America OnLine, about the time the band’s second album “Recovering the Satellites” hit the stores. He’d read the praise, the insults and the questions. By this time, Duritz was accustom to going through intermediaries controlling the environment between himself and reporters. But, as he sat anonymously within the virtual world, he found he had a conduit to his fans. “It took a few weeks to convince them that I was me,” he said. “But, eventually I did.”
More than 20 years since “August and Everything After” dominated the airways with “Around Here,” and “Mr. Jones,” the Counting Crows’ satellite has stayed stationary as its sound remains the same in an ever evolving music universe.
“I don’t think about the years,” said Duritz. “It’s just a silly number that comes up in interviews like this. If you spend your time looking back, thinking about your family and kids, you naturally want to go back and be there. It grinds on you. I just live in the moment, concentrating on this show and the next.”
In this moment, the Counting Crows is in the midst of a worldwide tour in support of its latest LP, “Somewhere Under Wonderland.” Dropped last September, “Wonderland” is the band’s first album with its new label Capitol Records, and its first album to feature original material since “Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings” under Geffen nearly seven years ago. It parted ways with Geffen, severing an 18-year relationship that started with its debut album. It’s that same debut album many critics evoke when they speak favorably of the newest LP – a high benchmark to measure up against considering “August” has sold more than 20 million albums since its 1993 debut, earning the Recording Industry Association of America’s platinum status seven times. For Duritz, he said it’s the most honest material listeners have heard from him in a long time.
Duritz came out to the public about his dissociative disorder in 2008. The Mayo Clinic describes a person with this affliction as someone who “escapes reality in ways that are involuntary. … The person with a dissociative disorder experiences a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions and identity.” It’s a subject that, in retrospect, can be found through the band’s discography, but perhaps more so in “Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings.”
“I would say that this album is maybe a clearer picture of me than other records have been,” said Duritz.
While preparing the material that would go into “Wonderland,” Duritz played the songs to a friend of his, fellow musician Dave Godowsky. “I talked to him because I was concerned that people wouldn’t understand this record, that they would think it was less personal. Because, there were songs that were not directly about my life. It had humor in it. And, he said, ‘No, no, no. I don’t know what other people will think, but this is way more personal for me as your friend. I feel that I’m a huge Counting Crows fan, and I feel for 20 some-odd-years, you’ve been writing this epic tragedy of life with mental illness. And, I love it. It’s really good. But, it not all of who you are. I mean, you say dumb things. You have a particularly weird sense of humor at times. And, you’re funny a lot of times. This picture is more like an hour in your head. I don’t know if everyone else will get that, but for me it’s far more personal.’”
The LP reached the Top 10 last year after its release. Some critics are going as far as saying that it is the band’s best work. Nonetheless, Duritz said it’s the artist’s need to connect with people that prevails.
“We’re all just people, said Duritz. “I don’t think I’m any different than I was before any of this happened. But, I don’t think people think of it that way. It’s incredibly, freakishly exciting to be in contact with mass culture and celebrities that people have. So, I think it’s really special in social media because when you answer a question on Tweeter, it’s like you’re selected out of the millions. [But,] it’s all just normal human interaction for me, but I think it’s really good.”
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.