“Anna Begins” is one of my favorite “Counting Crows” songs, and yet, I’ve always had a devil-of-a-time remembering all of the lyrics and their order. The thing about the song is it doesn’t have a very conventional structure or rhyme scheme and is actually hard to follow. There are repeated portions, there’s this illusion of circular verses, and it can be difficult to determine which of the characters is talking at any given time–but I think it is exactly this confusion that gives the song its power, because it is talking about the disorienting feelings of love and the difficulty people have in communicating them at the beginning of a relationship.
The song tells the story of the unnamed narrator (Adam?) and a girl named Anna at a crucial emotional crux in their relationship, and how they try to sort through the question of “love.” Both seem to suspect and to deny love, and the speaker repeats “I am not worried” and “I’m not ready for this sort of thing.”
The narrator of the song also quotes Anna and himself, but the enjambment makes it difficult to tell when those quotes start and end. (Enjambment, in the phrasing of the Google, is “(in verse) the continuation of a sentence without a pause beyond the end of a line, couplet, or stanza,” and it can be used in poetry to create dual meanings.) I don’t know how much of that was intentional, but I love how it implies that the narrator and Anna could be thinking the same things but possibly not at the same time.
I also really like this song for its realism. My partner and I have talked on many occasions about how it’s hard to find realistic-sounding love songs that can apply to most people’s lives. I think the feelings communicated in “Anna Begins” can relate to almost any relationship when at least one party is questioning the nature of the love in the partnership and where that relationship is going. It could work for people of many ages, monogamous or not, straight or gay. That being said, you probably wouldn’t want to sing this to a partner or tell them that it sounds like it’s about your relationship, unless you’re trying to express that it’s drifting apart…
I guess you should read the lyrics yourself and see what you think.
My friend assures me “it’s all or nothing” I am not worried- I am not overly concerned My friend implores me ” for one time only, make an exception.” I am not not worried Wrap her up in a package of lies Send her off to a coconut island I am not worried – I am not overly concerned with the status of my emotions “oh”, She says, “you’re changing.” But were always changing 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 that but, I’m sure there’s something in a shade of gray or something in between and I can always change my name if that’s what you mean My friend assures me “it’s all or nothing` But I am not really worried I am not overly concerned You try to tell your self the things you try tell your self to make yourself forget to make your self forget I am not worried “If it’s love” she said, “then were gonna have to think about the consequences” She can’t stop shaking and I can t stop touching her and….. This time when kindness falls like rain It washes her away and Anna begins to change her mind “these seconds when I’m shaking leave me shuddering for days” she says. And I’m not ready for this sort of thing But I’m not gonna break And I’m not going to worry about it anymore I’m not gonna bend. And I’m not gonna break and I’m not gonna worry about it anymore It seems like I should say “as long as this is love…” But it’s not all that easy so maybe I should just snap her up in a butterfly net- Pin her down on a photograph album I am not worried I’ve done this sort of thing before But then I start to think about the consequences Because I don’t get no sleep in a quiet room and… The time when kindness falls like rain It washes me away and Anna begins change my mind And every time she sneezes I believe it’s love and oh lord…. I’m not ready for this sort of thing She s talking in her sleep-it s keeping me awake And Anna begins to toss and turn And every word is nonsense but I understand and and oh lord. I m not ready for this sort of thing Her kindness bangs a gong It’s moving me along and Anna begins to fade away It s chasing me away. She disappears, and oh lord I’m not ready for this sort of thing
“Counting Crows” is my favorite band; Adam Duritz is the man. I have pet projects and outlines and ideas inspired by their songs, and I listen to and sing their pieces all the time. Someday, I will have to Adam Druitz in-person to thank him and ask him to listen to one of my songs or read one of my stories–or maybe I can just get the rights to make that “Counting Crows” musical I’ve been working on.