Counting Crows
This Desert Life



by El_Goodo USER (19 Reviews)
April 5th, 2006 | 11 replies

Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

"This Desert Life" The Crows third album and follow up to Recovering The Sattelites captures the Counting Crows continuing to change there sound as they had on their previous albums. Their debut August and Everything After was a dark moody album comprised mostly of ballads with the exception of the smash single Mr. Jones which catapulted the band to fame, while their second album Recovering The Sattelites saw the band beginning to experiment more with electric and distorted guitar driven songs. It also saw the band writing more musically complex music, and experimenting with different styles. This Desert Life showcases the bands ever increasing songwriting talents. The melodies are as strong as ever, the music is different and still interesting, and as always the lyrics are some of the best in todays music.

As soon as the first track Hanging Around begins with a pounding almost jungle style rhythm, followed by a catchy distorted guitar riff you can tell this album isn't going to be anything like AAEA or RTS. No song besides Mr. Jones in the Counting Crows catalogue comes close to rocking as hard as this song. The chorus is huge and will have you singing along in no time, and you might even be humming the guitar riff by the time your done (which is an unusual occurance in Counting Crow songs). The lyrics fit the carefree bouncing music perfectly with lead singer/lyric writer Adam Duritz spitting out lines like "We spent all day getting sober, just hiding from daylight, watching t.v." The song ends with the sound of an audience clapping and cheering which continues on into the intro of the next track Mrs. Potters Lullaby. Clocking in at nearly eight minutes Mrs. Potters Lullaby is a Counting Crows epic. The song is about an actress named Monica Potter whom Adam Duritz decided to write about after seeing her in a film. After she heard about the song was invited to the bands Home/Recording Studio, to meet Adam and hear the song played for her. Monica was very impressed and told Adam it was one of the nicest things she's ever had done to her, and the two became friends. Musically the song is driven by an upbeat piano accompanied by a steady drum beat. Again the chorus will be in your head by the time your done, but the best part of the song are the lyrics in the verses. Adam Duritz sings out heartfelt lines like "If dreams are like movies, than memories are films about ghosts (Note: Films About Ghosts would later become the title for the Counting Crows Best Of album). There are too many great lines in this song to write them all so I'll just give you a few of my Personal favourite. [i]"The price of a memory is the memory of the sorrow it brings," "Well I woke up in mid-afternoon cause that's when it all hurts the most, I dream I never know anyone at the party, and I'm always the host."

The next track Amy Hit The Atmosphere slows down the tempo, and tells a story of a friend of Adam's named Amy who was a good girl in a crowd, of not so good people. Her life was a mess but eventually as the song says she "Caught a rocket ride out of this gutter, and she's never coming back..." This song continues the line of sing-along chorus, this one being a little more somber as Adam sings out at the top of his longs "We've waited so long for someone to us back home, It just takes so long." Another other great lines in this song is "If I could make it rain today, and wash away this sunny day, I would just to get a change of pace.As mentioned before this song is at a slower tempo than the first two, but it's not as slow as some Crows songs. The vocal delivery throughout the whole song is phenominal and you can truly hear the emotion in Adam's voice (which is the case for most Counting Crows songs). The song ends with Adam repeating the lines "All I wanna know, All I wanna know, and all I really know is I don't want to know." The tempo increases a little with the next track Four Days. This track has a connection with Mrs. Potters Lullabye, and that connection is that it was written about Monica Poter as well. After Monica and Adam had become friends, Monica had to leave for awhile on business and told Adam that she would call him. It had been four days, and Adam still hadn't gotten a call, so he wrote this song. Much like Mrs. Potters Lullabye there is a steady pounding drum beat throughout the song, and the melodies are beautiful. Again Adam Duritz's vocal delivery is excellent, and the words he's saying are even better. Lines like All I want is something good, it get's harder everytime, is something most people can relate too. While lines like She is sleeping far away, take you breath take your time, spread your wings and rise, through the black ohio sky are descriptive and poetic lines that it seems only Adam Duritz is capable of.

A distorted guitar chord fading ends the song, and with no time to waste All My Friends begins. And it really begins as the verse kicks right in with personal yet identifiable lines like Thought I might get a rocket ride, when I was a child, but it was a lie that I, told myself when I needed something good, Seventeen had a better dream, but now im thirty-three and it isn't me, but I'd think of something better if I could. The melody to the verse is phenominal and the music is beautiful, and as usual the chorus is the sing at the top of your lungs type, All my friends and lovers, leave me alone, try to have a little fun, One way or another I just wish I had known...to go out walking in the sun, to find out if you were the one. Musically the song is driven by a piano line and a steady beat during the verse with spacious fills, with all the instruments coming together to create a powerful chorus. One of my favourite lines in the song is "Caught some grief from a fallen leaf, as she tumbled down to the dirty ground, and said I should of put her back there if I could." The song fades out, and High Life begins. This song is really different from the rest of the album, opening with a weird instrument that sounds almost like a drop of water falling with an acoustic gutiar soon joining it. The main focus of this song is the words as Adam almost sounds like hes just speaking alot of the words. In the chorus a great sounding string arrangement joins the music, while Adam sings a chorus that while not as catchy as the previous song's still sounds great. Throughout the song there are some spacious but great sounding guitar fills. The song is fairly up-tempo, and fades away into Colorblind. Colorblind is one of the more popular Counting Crows songs due to its inclusion on the Cruel Intensions soundtrack. The song features a beautiful yet haunting piano line by itself with only Adam's voice over top of it for the first bit of the song (later quietly played orchestra instruments are added in). This song could have fit on August and Everything After easily along side Raining In Baltimore. The emotion in the song is very high, and the lyrics are personal and poetic. I am colorblind, coffee black and egg white, pull me out from inside, I am ready, I am ready, I am ready, I am.

I Wish I Was A Girl is one of the louder songs on the album, and would have sounded just fine on Recovering The Sattelites. And don't be fooled by the name Adam is not a transvestite. The chorus should explain what he means "I wish I was a girl, so that you could believe me, and I could shake this static everytime I try to sleep, I wish for all the world that I could say, Hey Elizabeth you know Im doing alright these days." He wishes he was a girl so that he could tell things to Elizabeth and have her believe them. The song is filled with melodic distorted guitar riffs, a steady but pounding drum beat, and catchy vocal melodies. The song climaxes with the instruments all playing together, and Adam wailing out I can't sleep at night and the end is soon followed. Speedway is another slower song driven by the soft strumming of an electric guitar, and an always steady yet powerful drum beat. The vocal delivery is ace and he shows particular emotion on this song especially with the climatic and catchy as hell chorus that features Adam singing out After all this time! The bottom line's...You don't know how much I feel! You say you see, But I don't agree! You don't know how much I feel! I don't know what it is about the song, but this is one of my favourite tracks. The song ends with a ringing guitar note, and the album get's to its closing track.

St. Robinson and His Cadillac Dream brings this album to it's end (or does it?). It is very different from the rest of the tracks, due to the inclusion of what sounds like a banjo behind the guitars. It is a great closing track as it has all the features that makes this album so good. Catchy melodies, well-written music, and poetic lyrics. Some good lines in this song are Staring out of his window, as the world rushes by, Author Robinson closes the glass and replies, I dream of ballerinas and I don't know why. and From where you think you'll end up, to the state that your in, your reflecting approaches and then receeds again. The song ends as Duritz finishes the line She says I always do the same things...over and over and with that line we come to the end of the album. No...wait...what could this be?

After a few minutes of dead silence, we start to hear the sounds of the band fooling around in the recording studio. Adam is talking through his mic which is currently sounding like he is talking from space. Then as we here the screaming of HERE WE GO! 1...2...1...2...3...4! The secret song Kid Things begins! This song sounds different from anything on the rest of the album, as it is driven by a blues pattern played on the acoustic guitar. But it is the same in the way that it is written with great lyrics, and strong melodies. And another way it is connected to the rest of the album is that, like Mrs. Potters Lullaby and Four Days the song is written about Adams relationship with Mrs. Potter. Turns out after waiting for Four Days he finally got his phone call, and as Adam recalls he felt like he was 14 laying on his bed so excited to be talking to her. Hence the name Kid Things. The vocal delivery is excellent as usual, and it features some great lines like She said no no you can't get any loving it's a sunday, well what made you think I wanted it that way. It's such a good song that its almost a waste to just put it as a secret song. After the song ends we hear somemore of the band fooling around, and it's actually pretty funny to listen too.

Overall: 4.5/5

This is a great album its on par with both Recovering The Satellites and August and Everything After. The songwriting is phenominal, the hooks are huge, and you'll be singing it in no time. The Counting Crows manage to keep what makes them original while still changing and experimenting with new ideas.

Recommended Tracks
Hanging Around
All My Friends
Mrs. Potters Lullaby

Recent reviews by this author
George Harrison Living in the Material WorldIron Maiden A Matter of Life and Death
Counting Crows New Amsterdam: Live at Heineken Music Hall 2003Bob Dylan Modern Times
Bob Dylan Love and TheftCounting Crows Across A Wire
user ratings (164)

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 5th 2006


I liked August And Everything After and Recovering The Satellites, but I really can't stand anything they've done since.
Still, that said, the pick here are probably Hangin' Around and Amy Hit The Atmosphere.
Good review.

April 5th 2006


I wonder if the cover of this album is a reference to Pink Floyd's classic "Wish You Were Here"?

April 5th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

I was thinking about doing this but that was a good TbT review.

This is a really good album, i've head it so much when i was younger and i still listen to it once in a while.

April 5th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

I wonder if the cover of this album is a reference to Pink Floyd's classic "Wish You Were Here"?

Never even thought of that before. But I believe the cover was inspired by a childrens book, or something to that extent.

I think this is probably my best review to date. With every review Im trying to improve, I didn't really want it to be a TBT because everyone seems to dislike those. But I tried to give more than a Track by Track would by adding some favourite lines, and telling some of the stories behind the track.

April 5th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

Hmm..are there any parts in particular that need editing?

May 29th 2006


I've wanted to hear Mrs. Potters lullaby for a long time. I hope they make a new cd sometime.

June 4th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

Well I just read on their website the other day that they have recorder the softer part of their album...and after their summer tour there gonna record the louder part (may be the other way around) but all that matters is we should have a new cd by early 2007 and I haven't been disapointed by the crows yet so I am very pumped.

September 13th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

I've been diggin' this album a lot lately. Same with their debut. This album reminds me so much of summers of 2000-2001. Mrs. Potter's Lullaby, Four Days, I Wish I Was A Girl, and St. Robinson are excellent, but theres really not an average song here.

October 17th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

I agree completley, would have added Speedway and All My Friends to that list though. From the first second I heard All My Friends I thought it was incredible. The secret song Kid Things is really great too.

February 19th 2010


One of my favorite rock albums.

July 2nd 2022


Album Rating: 3.0

I probably should revisit this but I just wanted to say that "Colorblind" has been a favorite of mine for over 20 years now, lots of wistful thinking and broken hearted dreams set to that tune in my teenage years. Maybe the best thing this band ever did.

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2023 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy