Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Seven Songs 6: The Metaphor

(This is the sixth in a series of seven posts, written in response to a meme that asked me what seven songs I held in highest esteem. The first of these posts is noted here.)

Mr. Jones (Counting Crows)
- written by Adam Duritz and David Bryson

This warning may come a little late, but the video above may not be the best representation of its song. In fact, if you somehow reach this point of my description without actually having depressed the "Play" button up there, then I highly recommend that you ignore the video completely, and listen to an audio recording instead.

Why, you ask? Because I believe that the essential element of this song lies in the fact that you can imagine it as it plays. While the video's good on its own, it partially deprives people of an ability to visualize everything. (This, I suppose, should be one of the main arguments for the existence of radio alongside TV and movies.)

The lyrics of "Mr. Jones" are such that they almost beg us to think about them carefully. Who is this 'Mr. Jones', for example? Why does the song center so much around him? What significance does the mention of color have? And why does the lead character make allusions to animals of the feline persuasion?

When one first reads through the song, it doesn't seem to make an inch of sense. The emotions are there, though: We get inklings of loneliness and a desire for popularity, and I think that most of us will suspect that the song's meaning has something to do with these. Eventually we begin equating its symbols and images with the way we look at the piece, and we finally get a pseudo-logical sense of what it means to us.

In layman's terms, ladies and gentlemen, the song makes us think. It makes us come up with our own interpretation of what it's trying to say. And when it does that, it goes beyond the catchy tune and points out that, yes, it holds a sense of awareness on its own. Its seemingly random lyrics don't make sense by themselves, and as a result, the song forces us to breathe its reason to life.

When a song attempts to travel beyond the listening experience like this, I feel that it's somehow special. I have my own understanding of "Mr. Jones", as sourced from countless listenings; Chances are that you'll probably have yours as well.

And yes, as I've mentioned on each and every one of the other posts so far: This is why it's the sixth item on my exclusive list. :)


Michael Krahn said...


Found you through google blog search because you mentioned Counting Crows so I assume you are a fan. I did some writing about the band recently which I’m putting up on my blog in 5 parts.

Check it out if you want to:

Sean said...

Michael: I'm less of a Counting Crows fan than I am a simple listener, unfortunately. I think that they're very skilled, though -- their songs evoke profound emotional responses.

Howie G said...

I like CC even though they are sort of like the goo goo dolls. I like their cover of Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi, so I wrote a spoof of it, making fun of greenies, at

Sean said...

Howie G: I'm not too familiar with the Goo Goo Dolls in my little corner of the world, so I'll take your word for it. :)