If you’re already a Counting Crows fan, then it’s likely you fell in love with the emotional displays of Adam Duritz somewhere along the way. I bought three copies of August and Everything After, the band’s debut album, my junior year of high school after wearing out several copies as songs like “Anna Begins,” “Round Here,” and “Raining in Baltimore” hit me with a strong emotional resonance. The trend has continued on every album ever since. No matter how old I get, Duritz’s ability to pierce my heart by unveiling his own has been the hallmark of the Crows for over two decades.
Several weeks ago, a few friends in orbit around the Rabbit Room went to the Ryman to hear Toad the Wet Sprocket (which Andrew wrote about here) and Counting Crows. For me it was the 12th or so time I’d seen the band. The band played several tunes from their upcoming album, Somewhere Under Wonderland, alongside several covers and old favorites, and they all sounded great. But one song in particular, “Possibility Days,” struck me as hopeful, and it was one of the primary subjects of our recent interview at Stereo Subversion.
“It’s kind of taken from the end of a Sondheim play, Sunday in the Park with George,” said Duritz. “It got a revival that my friend was in, and we went to see it several times. It was about the painter, Georges Seurat, and the last lines of the play are taken from what is supposedly his mother’s notebook. It says, ‘A blank page. His favorite. So many possibilities.’ I think those are the last lines of the play. All the color disappears from the walls and it’s just white. That can seem like nothing, but it also offers all the possibilities in the world. I think the song is just about that.”
Duritz revealed that he was “barely conscious” during the recording of the band’s previous album, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings. It was a dark time marked by a cycle of depression, medication, and narcolepsy, but coming out of it near the end of recording, he came across the play and, consequently, the genesis of “Possibility Days.”
“A year or two later when I wrote that song, it was really about trying to fall in love and then falling apart,” said Duritz. “It’s not a song about a relationship that works, but it’s a song about a relationship that can try, because it is possible. That’s worth living for. I’m not saying things are doomed. That’s the sort of relationship that doesn’t work, but it doesn’t matter. It’s okay. It could have worked, but it just didn’t work. And it’s not the same thing as being doomed. I think most of my songs are usually about hope. They’re not usually about success, but they’re about hope. That’s kind of all you need anyway. You don’t really need to succeed in life every day, you just need to not be doomed.”
It’s positive and hopeful, but it’s also vintage Duritz. It’s also another reason why I’ve long been a fan of the band. You can read the full interview with Adam Duritz here. You can also catch the performance at the Ryman below:
Matt Conner is a freelance writer and music journalist. As the founding pastor of The Mercy House, he led a church community for more than six years in intense community development across racial and socio-economic lines. As a writer, he’s interviewed thousands of musicians for multiple print and web-based publications.