I know Ilan in the most direct peripheral way: He used to write for the Fantasy Football Guide. But he didn’t write directly for me, so I’ve never met him or even had a conversation with him, except on Facebook a little. I have written him checks. For some reason, I guess having to do with the 20th anniversary of its release, and its pedigree as a T-Bone Burnett production, Counting Crows’ August and Everything After has been discussed quite a bit here recently.
Ilan weighs in with a piece for the WBUR (a Boston NPR station) website about his love for the album. He’s read the Steven Hyden piece about which I wrote a few weeks ago and quotes it, so this isn’t all out of the blue, but I liked Ilan’s personal account and thought it was worth reading. He says:
“For months, the album felt like my own little secret. I evangelized it to friends, family or anyone who’d listen. They had a hard time grasping my zealotry for the fledgling band. It seems strange, today, to think of Counting Crows as fledgling. But, for a period of five months in late 1993 and early 1994, they were. The smash hit “Mr. Jones” — which became a No. 1 song in April 1994 — had not yet been released. In casual conversations, if you mentioned Counting Crows, the likely reply was, “Are you sure you’re not thinking of The Black Crowes?”
Read the whole thing here.
In discussion on Facebook Ilan also cops to what can best be described as Counting Crows’ weaknesses, with a rationale I like a lot: “i was a little abashed about the essay, because there are millions of people who don’t respect CC’s album-mastery and judge them as lame/whiny (not without some justification), because of their dreadful joni mitchell covers and the overplaying of certain songs and what the singer LOOKS LIKE, which is so utterly phony i want to barf, but that’s humanity.”