The Monday Movement- “Anna Begins”

When most people see The Counting Crow’s “August and Everything After” album cover they probably think of songs like “Mr. Jones,” “Round Here,” “Rain King,” or “Omaha.” And rightfully so, those are all amazing songs off of an incredible record. But today I’m delving into “Anna Begins;” a deep and in some verses, a dark collection of words and emotions depicting a relationship. My interpretation of the song tells me it is about the ending of a relationship with a lover. For me personally, as I’m sure is the case with many, these periods (break-ups) of our lives are some of the most difficult; the saddest, the most painful, and the most difficult to accept. This account of Adam Duritz’s thoughts and emotions during a difficult time in his life is pretty special. It is raw and it is real. I feel as though it is pretty accurate as well in regards to the states of confusion one goes through during such a time.;the back and forth we experience on a weekly basis sometimes when in a relationship. There are a few artists for me that really grab my attention when it comes to their songwriting and lyrical abilities; Adam Duritz is one of them. His self-expression in this song is beautiful. You can hear his confusion and feel his pain as he sings about one of those things in life that we all go through.; those experiences that are anything but pleasant, but that bring about growth and change….that although we cannot see during, we later on recognize as necessary. To quote and old professor of mine, “the only way to get through something, is to go through it.” With these things, there are no shortcuts.

Let’s jump right into the lyrics here as we examine a line that has always stood out to me since I was a teenager; “You try to tell yourself the things you try to tell yourself to make yourself forget…” This speaks to the conversations we have with ourselves during periods of discomfort and distress. In an attempt to alleviate those uncomfortable feelings or perhaps block out truths we do not want to accept, we tell ourselves things that in the moment, make us feel better, but may not be necessarily based in reality. This of course is a natural defense mechanism we use to protect ourselves, but oftentimes we arrive at denial. The question is, how long do we stay there? “It does not bother me to say, this isn’t love. Because if you don’t want to talk about it, then it isn’t love. And I guess I’m going to have to live with that, but I’m sure there’s something in a shade of gray, or something in between.” This one is very personal, tough to generalize, but we have all either said it or heard it, “if you don’t want to talk about it, then…..” that must mean you don’t care, at least enough. Or some might draw a conclusion that if their partner doesn’t want to talk about “it”, then they don’t really love them. I can’t speak to what something does or doesn’t mean; that’s the subjective part that we all personally decide for ourselves. In “Anna Begins,” he is trying to figure out what this is. Is it love? Or not? And if it’s not then what? How am I supposed to feel? A minute ago we were on the same page, together, committed, happy, trusting, feeling good. Now you seem “not interested,” “you’re different,” “you’ve changed,” “what’s wrong?” Early in the song, Adam makes reference to the fact that we’re “always changing.”

But I’m not gonna break. And I’m not gonna worry about it anymore. I’m not gonna bend. And I’m not gonna break, and I’m not gonna worry about it anymore.” I believe here he is talking about not letting this get to him. This is so contradictory though, because it is getting to him, it is eating him up inside. We all do this, we minimize or we magnify, again to reduce those emotions that bring about anxiety or inadequacy. We walk that line of denial all of the time in relationships as we try to hang in there long enough to give it a fair chance. But again, we arrive back at protecting ourselves when we perceive being hurt by someone. I think a lot of this song is about Adam coming to the realization that what he is in IS NOT love. And this conclusion brings about that difficult to define confusion that ensues as we look for reasons to stay with this person, or as we perhaps contemplate ending the relationship. The use of the word “gray” in so many of their songs illustrates what I am talking about here; Is love or a relationship an all or nothing thing? I tend to think so, but what if you think your partner sees the relationship differently? What happens then? Are they in this as much as I am?

I decided to post this version of the song because this video shows the lyrics. This song is a story and for me at least, following the words as I listen brings it all together. But definitely check out the studio version as well,

I don’t get no sleep in a quiet room. Every time she sneezes, I believe it’s love and oh lord I’m not ready for this sort of thing. And every word is nonsense, but I understand ……”

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