“There’s a piece of Maria in every song that I sing.”

28 Feb

“Never ask an artist about their art.” Mostly because they’ll give you a long rambling answer that doesn’t tell you anything or the answer is disappointing. So when I woke up with a Counting Crows song in my head, I had to find out who Maria is.

Unless you grew up around the same time I did, you’re probably not a fan of Counting Crows. I find that I tend to gravitate towards lead singers whose vocal range is similar to mine and Adam Duritz fits that bill. He’s the white guy who wore dreds for twenty years and was labeled by MST3K as the most repulsive thing in the universe. Anyway, in at least four songs I can name, Adam sings about a girl named Maria, including their most popular, Mr. Jones.

The great thing about the internet is that you can find answers to just about anything really fast. Whether they’re the correct answers is up to you. When Counting Crows hit the scene in 1992, the Internet wasn’t that robust, so you were left with wondering on your own? Who was Maria? From the lyrics, I guessed that she was an old girlfriend that he treated rather bad, felt bad about doing it, and then never quite got over that fact. That was my guess because… well, that was my experience, right?

Well, someone interviewed Adam and asked that very question. Turns out the answer was disappointing. Maria is… Adam. It’s just the feminine form of himself that gives personality to his experiences. Well, that’s either a) deep or b) too up his own butt. But hey, it’s his songs–let him write about whatever he wants!

This is probably why Pearl Jam never explained the story behind their hit song, “Jeremy,” because as cool as the song and the video is, the real answer would be disappointing. Certainly I can remember looking up Toad the Wet Sprocket’s “Hold Him Down,” which has a lot of violent imagery, and learning that it was really about beating up his brother as a kid. Gee. That’s exciting. (blink) Okay, what’s next?

So when I write about the Terran Associated States, and you think to yourself, “Wow, that’s a cool term–where’d you come up with that?” I should probably keep my mouth shut. But because I’m a fawning attention whore, I’ll more likely blurt out, “It came out of a game I played at a church picnic.” Plus, all the normal names for governments have been taken in other sci-fi universes: Federation, Confederation, Republic, League, Union, Alliance. You have to find more obscure references in history: Madras Presidency, Anglo-Irish Ascendency, Brotherhood, et al.

Have you run into this trouble before? Or does finding out the truth behind the art make it more significant to you? Let me know in the comments below!

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