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Geffen asks Counting Crows to consider changing song title

Lou Pickney
March 4, 2002

During a recent Ryan Adams concert in California (Feb. 25, 2002), the Counting Crows showed up as a special surprise guest. As my friend Shauna said, it wouldn't have sucked to have been at that show. Imagine getting to see Ryan Adams, a great singer in his own right (his song "To Be Young" is incredible), and then lo and behold the Counting Crows show up. Anyway, word is that the Crows played some old favorites (like "Round Here" and "A Long December")... but also broke out a couple of new songs: "Richard Manuel Is Dead" and "American Girls".

I had the pleasure of hearing the Counting Crows in concert at the House of Blues in Orlando last August... and they played both of those new songs, along with lots of other new tunes. When the new Counting Crows CD comes out this year... I'll be in the front of the line to buy it. It should be great. In the meantime, MP3's of live performances will have to suffice.

Anyway, Crows lead singer Adam Duritz mentioned at the L.A. concert that the band's label, Geffen, is pressuring them to change the name of "Richard Manuel Is Dead" so it will get more radio airplay. It definitely has single potential (it's a tremendous song), but this reaches the crux of the dilemma many talented musicians face -- do you sacrifice yourself musically or creatively to reach more people and become more commercially successful?

My hope is that they won't change the name, and that they'll let the song earn its way on its own accord. Groups like the Manic Street Preachers have found themselves struggling to match European success in the U.S. in part because of their long song titles, like "If You Tolerate This, Then Your Children Will Be Next". Can you imagine an American CHR or Modern AC disc jockey saying that title name? Typically, American pop/rock songs are kept short. We have "Slide" by the Goo Goo Dolls or "Bent" by Matchbox 20 or "Trouble" by Coldplay. Not "If You Tolerate This, Then Your Children Will Be Next". Not on contemporary American radio.

On another level, as a fan I'd almost rather the Counting Crows not take another run through the major pop circles. While I'd love for everyone to hear their songs, from a personal standpoint it's nice to be able to go see them at a smaller venue like House of Blues. Granted, they were great when I saw them at the larger TPAC (Tennessee Performing Arts Center) in early 1997, but I digress. And I'm being selfish.

Here are some new songs I've run across this week which I've liked. Stations that play new music (Top 40, Rock, Country, etc.) have "adds" where they literally add a certain number of songs per week to their playlist. Luckily when I pick songs I pick them for an audience of one, so I don't have to worry about pleasing a demographic or what not. If I like it, I play it. Period.

-The Beta Band "Around The Bend"
-John Mayer "No Such Thing"
-Convoy "Caught Up In You"

If you'd like to suggest any songs, fire me off an e-mail...

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