It's not hard to find out who "Mr. Jones" of the 1993 Counting Crows hit is: It's Marty Jones, the former bassist of the Himalayans, the band singer/songwriter Adam Duritz was in before Counting Crows. It's long been known that the song was written about a night out in San Francisco when Duritz and Jones went to see Jones's father, who really is a renowned flamenco guitarist, play at a club. But what happened to Marty Jones? The whole song is about "Mr. Jones and me" wanting "to be big stars." It seems kind of shitty that Duritz got rich and famous in large part on his buddy's name while said buddy languishes in obscurity.
The answer is buried in a 2011 documentary about Jones's father, David Serva. Apparently, after the Himalayans broke up in 1991, Jones left the music business altogether on his own terms because he didn't want to end up like his father, who had five different children with five different women. They had never even met each other until the documentary was filmed, making Duritz and Jones whole club trip to watch him play even sadder. It turns out that philandering traveling musicians are kind of shitty dads.
Meanwhile, Duritz rarely plays "Mr. Jones" these days, and when he does, he turns it into a melancholy ballad and often changes the lyrics to reflect what he's since learned about fame. Spoiler: It's not great. (For example, instead of "When everybody loves you, that's just about as funky as you can be," he sings "When everybody loves you, that's just about as fucked up as you can be," which is objectively an improvement, regardless of its roots.) In other words, Adam Duritz is famous and hates it, while Mr. Jones is doing great in anonymity. At least he can dry his tears on all that post-grunge money, if not those dreads.
Manna spends too much time tracking down '90s music legends and also on Twitter.
Top image: Geffen Records