George Gunderson was sitting in the park Thursday night reading a book by D.H. Lawrence when a few people started walking by, first five or six, then a dozen. At first he thought there might be some kind of auto accident that had happened, and he got up to look around, thinking somebody might need his help with CPR.
As it happened, the hubbub was in the middle of a nearby stadium where the rock band the Counting Crows was playing. Gunderson was shocked.
“I thought they broke up years ago,” he said.
Like many, Gunderson said he was slightly amused and entertained by the song “Mr. Jones,” when it was on the radio almost a generation ago. But he figured the blandly entertaining and ultimately forgettable song would be the last he or anyone else would ever hear of this middling, second string and mildly annoying band.
“Then, what do you know?” he says. “There they are, right in the middle of creation. They have their instruments out. And there was even a small group of people who had come to see them. At first, I even thought the phalanxes of girls passing by were cute. Not so much now, though now that I know where they’re going.”
Gunderson says he feels a bit like Rip Van Winkle.
“I mean, this is a real anachronism. I stopped listening to stuff like that a long time ago. It’s like finding a skinny tie from your trunk, and here you thought you’d thrown it away when you were 14.”
As the band ripped into its unrelievedly awful version of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” Gunderson thought for a second he felt a twinge of nostalgia. But he quickly got over it.
“I don’t really have time for stuff like that,” he said. “I’m older. People have died. Life is short. Nostalgia is pretty much a waste of my time.
“That’s how I sort of figured everybody else was thinking, which is why I’m still not sure I’m really hearing the Counting Crows. I’m pretty sure this is a just a bad dream I’m having.”
Gunderson then asked a reporter to pinch him and make sure he wasn’t.
“No,” said Gunderson. “I guess I’m really here and that’s really the Counting Crows playing.”
Since the early ’90s or “whenever that song was big,” Gunderson says, he’s really grown into much more sophisticated kinds of music, whether it be classical or pop.
“There’s a lot more irony and less false earnestness in Prokofiev and Leonard Cohen. Hell… even in Snoop Doggy Dogg. There’s just so much more out there than the song you got drunk to at a bad office party in 1995.”
When told that Counting Crows had released a new album in 2008, Gunderson shook his head.
“Wow,” he said. “I couldn’t even imagine that as a Christmas gift. Not for my mother, not for my ex-girlfriend. Not for anybody. I’m just shocked … I mean, I guess the band members have to eat. Maybe that’s why they keep doing it. I just can’t think of any other reason. I sort of figured they’d saved up enough money that they could stop. Maybe for our sake if not for their own.”