Friday, January 18, 2008

She's talking in her sleep...

The Counting Crows have just released two new songs for free download from their website (1492 and When I dream of Michelangelo). Both songs are from the new double album "Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings", which I am pretty excited about.

Listening to them brought back some great memories of the Counting Crows, and namely Anna Begins, my favourite song from August and Everything After, their first album.

"Her kindness falls like rain it washes me away, and anna begins to change my mind. And every time she sneezes I think its love, and all along, I’m not ready for this sort of thing.
She’s talking in her sleep, she’s keeping me awake, and anna begins to toss and turn, and every word she says is nonsense, but understand it all.”

The weekend before I left Perth to move to London the music gods blessed me with the most amazing send off. My plane tickets had been booked for at least six months beforehand, my bags were pretty much packed – and somehow they knew. They offered up a big double header – Counting Crows on Saturday night, Pearl Jam on Sunday – I couldn’t have asked for anything more……no, no bloody way!

For at least the past eight years the Counting Crows and Pearl Jam had been my two favourite bands. I had every album, knew every song, every chord, every lyric – it was just too perfect.
I got tickets to both – sleeping out for two nights with friends to get Pearl Jam tickets – and scoring Counting Crows tickets over the phone. Pearl Jam played at Perth’s largest indoor arena, the SuperDome, Counting Crows at an intimate inner city venue, Metropolis (now more famous for the gang violence which occurs there every weekend than the concerts it holds).

Counting Crows were first, on the Saturday night. In a stroke of luck my friends band, Fourth Floor Collapse, opened for them on the night. That in itself was amazing. FFC was a local band my friends and I had followed for a long time. My best mate's brother was the lead guitarist and several of the other band members had gone to the same school as me - so I knew them quite well.

My mate and I got to the CC concert nice and early to line up. We caught the soundcheck and were amongst the first few people into the venue. We eventually ended up in the centre of the venue, right against the stage – probably the best piece of real estate at the entire concert –so we were pretty pleased.

Before FFC had even hit the stage we were greeted by a surpise vist by the Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz. Adam came out to the stage and sat down right in front of us and talked to the crowd for at least 30 minutes. He signed autographs and shook hands and showed a genuine interest in speaking with all of the fans who turned up early, which was absolutely brilliant and, to this day it remains one of my personal “rock” highlights.

FFC opened and dedicated a song to me (pointing me out to the packed crowd) which was a thrill – and the Counting Crows rocked. The guitarist, Dan, scored twp backstage passes for my friend and I, so we could meet the Counting Crows after the show.

It has taken me a long way to get there, but finally here is my point. On the night Adam talked about Anna Begins. He said he was nervous because in the next few days he was heading to Sydney and he was going to see “Anna” for the first time in over a decade. He told us the story of Anna Begins, which goes roughly like this …

Before the Counting Crows got going Adam took some time out to backpack through Europe. He was travelling from Italy to Greece and on his ferry he met a girl called Anna. He had brought a big bottle of red wine along for the journey and so had she, so they sat together and drank. Romance was in the air and they ended up living together in Greece (?, I could be wrong here) for the next few months, where he wrote the first half of Anna Begins.

Adam eventually had to leave to get back to San Francisco, leaving Anna to continue her trip.

Anna was an Australian girl, and it was essentially a travel romance – albeit a good one. Anna knew the song was about her, Adam had told her, but she had never heard him sing it live and that was about to happen in Sydney in a few nights time.

He also told this story at the Counting Crows Storytellers session which you can read about here.

For someone about to embark on a European journey of my own, this story filled me with hope. Needless to say, my friends and I took the same ferry journey, and we drank red wine. Coincidently we too met some Australian girls who keep us company on the torturous 11 hour journey across the Adriatic sea, but no-one like Anna.

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