Whether Adam Duritz likes “Mr. Jones” is fairly inconsequential at this point. The somewhat moody Duritz – front man for pop-rock staple Counting Crows — produced one of the most iconic pop radio tracks of the decade when his band dropped “Mr. Jones” in 1993. The song propelled Counting Crows into the mainstream conscious, and it propelled the band’s debut album, August and Everything After, to multiplatinum status.
In short, “Mr. Jones” is the type of song people pay to see live, if only to relive their carefree youth for four minutes. Music, after all, has a way of taking people to special places. And yet, like his idol Bob Dylan — who, ironically enough, he references in “Mr. Jones” — Duritz can’t be bothered to routinely play the song in concert. As much was evident when the band played Revention Music Center in July 2014 (it was still Bayou Music Center), when Duritz and crew played a great set that included hits like “Round Here,” “A Long December” and “Rain King.” It did not, however, include “Mr. Jones.” Upon the encore’s conclusion, when folks realized “Mr. Jones” wasn’t gonna happen, a guy next to me said it best: “Dude can’t even be bothered to play the song that got him here.” So, again, whether Duritz likes the song really doesn’t matter all that much; it’s a song that deserves live treatment.
Whether Counting Crows play “Mr. Jones” when they hit Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion this coming Sunday is to be determined, but either way, Duritz's band is far from the only musicians who shy away from their biggest hit.
"(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)"
Unlike some others on this list, who selfishly turned their backs on the single that brought them fame and fortune, the Beastie Boys provided good reasoning for despising their first big hit. The song was meant as a sarcastic send-up of the group’s party scene, but some of their fans took it as gospel. “The only thing that upsets me is that we might have reinforced certain values of some people in our audience when our own values were actually totally different,” Mike D later said. “There were tons of guys singing along to [the song] who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them. Irony is oft missed.” Plus, as the band later acknowledged, “Fight for Your Right” is also not a good song; even the Beasties acknowledged it “sucks” in the liner notes of their 1999 greatest-hits collection, The Sounds of Science.
"Smells Like Teen Spirit"
Well, here’s a shocker: Late misanthrope Kurt Cobain didn’t like something that everyone else pretty much adores, to the point where “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is regarded by many as the defining song of the early '90s. “Everyone has focused on that song so much,” Cobain told Rolling Stone in 1993, a year before his death. “The reason it gets a big reaction is people have seen it on MTV a million times. It’s been pounded into their brains…I can barely, especially on a bad night, get through [the song]. I literally want to throw my guitar down and walk away.” Of course, the moody, sullen Cobain was pretty much always a second or two from throwing his guitar down and walking away anyway.
Kurt Cobain is a ray of sunshine compared to the Gallagher brothers, who don’t like much of anything (including one another). Oasis was already famous in its native UK when it dropped “Wonderwall” in 1995, and the song made the band international superstars by rocketing to the top of the American rock-radio charts. Of course, as the brothers Gallagher are wont to do, they weren’t satisfied with the song’s reception. “I can’t fucking stand that fucking song,” front man Liam Gallagher said in an interview. “Every time I have to sing it, I want to gag. Problem is, it was a big, big tune for us. You go to America and they’re like, ‘Are you Mr. Wonderwall?’ You want to chin someone.” To be fair, Liam Gallagher has really never had a nice thing to say about anything or anyone.
Despite being one of the most successful, inventive bands of its era, Radiohead has really only had one American radio hit. That would be “Creep,” which rocketed to No. 2 on Billboard's Modern Rock charts upon its release in 1992; it also helped the band’s debut album, Pablo Honey, go double-platinum. Radiohead has never really made music that fits mainstream rock radio – to call them experimental might be conservative — and that’s no accident; front man Thom Yorke hates “Creep.” He has previously labeled the song “crap,” and traditionally the band shies away from playing it live. In fact, at a concert in Montreal years ago, upon hearing a fan request “Creep,” Yorke replied, “Fuck off, we’re tired of it.”
"Shiny Happy People"
R.E.M. is proof that if you’re gonna troll your record label, you must be prepared to face the consequences. Rumors have persisted for years that when the band sent Out of Time to its record label, Warner Bros. executives wanted one more poppy, cheery track to promote on radio. R.E.M. allegedly recorded “Shiny Happy People” as a goof, expecting the label to can it. Instead, label execs loved it and the song eventually landed on the Billboard Top 10 U.S. singles chart. The band apparently doesn’t share the label’s sentiment; R.E.M. even left it off its greatest-hits collection. Front man Michael Stipe, however, has softened a bit in his stance against the single; he once said he “hated” the song, but now says "Shiny" has “limited appeal” for him. In short, Michael Stipe is one of the nicest guys in rock music.
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