Song Analysis “Mr. Jones” Counting Crows

Artist: Counting Crows
Album: Across A Wire-live In New York
Title: Mr. Jones

 

Mr. Jones

I was down at the New Amsterdam staring at this
Yellow-haired girl
Mr. Jones strikes up a conversation with this black-
Haired flamenco dancer

[The New Amsterdam is a Broadway theatre in New York located on 42nd Street in Times Square. Flamenco is a traditional Spanish dance.]

She dances while his father plays guitar
She’s suddenly beautiful
We all want something beautiful
I wish I was beautiful

[This is a little unclear. I don’t know who the “he” is when the line says, “She dances while his father plays guitar.” I guess it has to be Mr. Jones. But my impression is that Mr. Jones is an older guy, though I suppose there’s no reason why he couldn’t have a father who plays guitar. I like this image of a woman being “suddenly beautiful.” I think he’s saying that as she dances and moves, he realizes all at once how pretty she is. I think the statement that “We all want something beautiful” rings true. Whether it’s a sporty car, a luxurious house, or a nice pair of shoes – everyone wants something beautiful.]
So come dance this silence down through the morning
Cut up, Maria! Show me some of them Spanish dances
Pass me a bottle, Mr. Jones

[What does it mean to “dance this silence?” It’s a rather poetic image. It could mean that dancing is a way of communicating without words. It’s not perfectly silent as one’s feet do make noise, but it is relatively silent as compared to music.]
Believe in me
Help me believe in anything cause
I want to be someone who believes

[This part reminds me of an ayah of the Quran about belief.

  • “”And believe in that which I reveal,

confirming that which ye possess already (of the Scripture),

and be not first to disbelieve therein,

and part not with My revelations for a trifling price,

and keep your duty unto Me.” (Quran 2:41)

The speaker is missing something in his life and feels he needs more faith. People of faith have an inner strength that is unique and powerful.]
Mr. Jones and me tell each other fairy tales and we
Stare at the beautiful women
“She’s looking at you. ah, no, no, she’s looking at me.”
Smiling in the bright lights
Coming through in stereo

[Here Mr. Jones and the speaker are telling each other stories. The stories are probably exaggerated anecdotes about their exploits with women.]

When everybody loves you, you can never be lonely
I will paint my picture
Paint myself in blue and red and black and gray
All of the beautiful colors are very very meaningful

[The first line is a great example of what is called a social myth. Society tells you that you should seek love because when people love you, you can’t be lonely. But in fact, there are many lonely people who are loved by many. Think of the sad case of Heath Ledger, loved by millions of fans, but still very lonely. He talks about painting. Maybe he’s saying that he wants to tell his own story.]

Gray is my favorite color
I felt so symbolic yesterday
If I knew Picasso
I would buy myself a gray guitar and play

[Pablo Picasso painted many famous pictures of guitars. The speaker talks about loving the

color gray and how gray is symbolic. Gray is symbolic of age and of ambiguity. People speak of seeing the world in black and white or seeing it in shades of gray.]
Mr. Jones and me look into the future
Stare at the beautiful women
“She’s looking at you.
, I don’t think so. she’s looking at me.”
Standing in the spotlight
I bought myself a gray guitar
When everybody loves me, i will never be lonely

I want to be a lion
Everybody wants to pass as cats
We all want to be big big stars, but we got different
Reasons for that

[This part is especially significant to me because my name means “lion” in Arabic. I’ve always wanted to live up to that image of lion, with its connotations of courage and strength. I think a lot of us want to be famous and we do have different reasons for that. Some people want money, some want admiration, and some want love that they can’t get anywhere else.]

Believe in me because I don’t believe in anything
And I want to be someone to believe
Mr. Jones and me stumbling through the barrio
Yeah we stare at the beautiful women
“She’s perfect for you, man, there’s got to be
Somebody for me.”
I want to be Bob Dylan
Mr. Jones wishes he was someone just a little more
Funky
When everybody loves you, son, that’s just about as
Funky as you can be

[Because of his prolific and long career, Bob Dylan is a role model for many musicians. It’s not

hard to see why the speaker wants to be Bob Dylan. What does it mean to be funky? I think that’s up to everyone to determine for themselves.]

Mr. Jones and me staring at the video
When I look at the television, I want to see me staring
Right back at me
We all want to be big stars, but we don’t know why
And we don’t know how
But when everybody loves me, I’m going to be just
About as happy as I can be
Mr. Jones and me, we’re gonna be big stars…

[Here the speaker addresses fame. He says he wants to see himself on TV. He understands how most people think about fame. They know they want fame but don’t know why they want it or how to get it. The end is like a hope or a prayer which definitely has come true for Adam Duritz, the lead singer of Counting Crows. As for the mysterious Mr. Jones, who knows?]

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  1. #1 by frazing on January 12, 2009 - 11:16 am

    Hi asad123, love the analysis. I always thought that using the color Grey along with Picasso was a bit strange as the I always associate Picasso with very colorful vibrant paintings – I like how you explain this.

    I believe though that the New Amsterdam is/was a bar in San Francisco where the band orginated – See my post on the New Amsterdam from Counting Crows Mr Jones.

    As for Mr Jones… that’s Marty Jones, a friend of Adam’s – they were in a band, pre-Counting Crows called the Himalayans.

  2. #2 by Vickie P. on May 8, 2009 - 12:05 pm

    The Bob Dylan part would make more sense to you if you were familiar with his lines:

    Because something is happening here
    But you don’t know what it is
    Do you, Mister Jones?

    I believe it’s the same Mr. Jones in both songs.

  1. Flamenco Dancing Guitar and Cajon Spanish Music » Blog Archive » Song Analysis “Mr. Jones” « Asad123’s Weblog

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