Adam Duritz is known as the barefoot frontman of Counting Crows, but behind the closed doors of his Astor Place apartment in Manhattan, he lives more like Batman. Hidden on a shelf in his library is a button that, when pressed, activates a hidden door that opens up to the musician’s bedroom. There’s also a room carpeted in Astroturf, complete with wooden outdoor chairs, a swing hanging from the ceiling and a picnic table with a blue umbrella. “Outdoor space is so hard to find in New York, and it’s really expensive,” Duritz explains, “so I thought, why not just create my own backyard?”
The rest of the spatial pad is equally quirky. His platinum and gold records hang in his bathroom (the Counting Crows fifth studio release, “Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings,” drops today). Arcade games and a Ping-Pong table sit in his game room and a massive antique railroad clock dominates the faux backyard.
But Duritz’s most prized possession is his collection of bootleg albums, which he organizes by genre and alphabetically by artist. While some musicians are against the unauthorized recordings for commercial reasons, Duritz believes bootlegs are to music fans what Michelangelo sketches are to art historians — a tool by which to better understand an artist.
“Once you’ve bought the records, there isn’t much more to do except finding live stuff,” he says. “Plus, the right show can become kind of legendary.”
Among Duritz’s favorites are the basement tapes from Bob Dylan’s 1966 tour with The Hawks, which feature the half-acoustic and half-electric shows for which the band became famous, says Duritz.
His Radiohead bootleg, he says, helped him appreciate the band’s avant-garde sound. “Some of the records felt a little more sterile to me. But getting the bootleg and hearing them live really helped me understand them.”
His own oeuvre is a little more transparent, considering Duritz has the habit of including former friends’ names in his lyrics. “I didn’t mean to, but I used their real names — Anna, Elizabeth. I’ve got great songs, but not them,” he says. “I’ve spent my life trading people for songs.”