Inside the head of Counting Crows' Adam Duritz

Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz has always been one of rock’s most literate lyricists.

The Berkeley native penned his college thesis on obscure poet H.D., referenced authors such as Saul Bellow on his band’s multi-platinum 1994 debut, “August and Everything After,” and hung with idols like Allen Ginsberg during a 1997 bartending stint at Los Angeles’ Viper Room (where he also played regular low-key gigs as the Shatners).

So it hit him especially hard last year, he says, when the medication he was taking made it hard for him to read, to the point where he actually lost the ability.

He says, “So I’ve just started trying to read again. I started, on this book ‘I Love You Beth Cooper,’ but I got halfway through and stopped short.”

But that has been the very least of the singer’s worries.

The medication in question, he says, was “lots, tons of different things.”

Why? “Because I’m crazy,” says the New York-based Duritz, 42, who returns to his native Bay Area for Crows and Maroon 5 gigs at Shoreline Amphitheatre tonight and Sleep Train Pavilion on Thursday.

He isn’t kidding. “My life is like being on acid, all the time,” he says. “It’s an associative disorder, so the world doesn’t look real. And I know that it is real — people tell me it is — but that doesn’t help much.”

The worst period was pre-diagnosis, from 2003 to 2006, when he hid in his apartment, forced himself to stop writing and shuddered when physicians proposed treatments such as electro-shock therapy.

“And the problem is, you begin to get scared all the time, and then you begin to drift away. Because the world’s not real, people aren’t real, so you don’t need to be connected to anyone or anything,” he says. 

But he saw specialists, got the proper prescriptions and wrapped up “Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings,” Counting Crows’ latest recording for DGC, divided into a scrappy “Saturday Nights” half (with rockers like “1492”) and a sleepier “Sunday Morning” suite, featuring  the single “Come Around.”

Duritz finds it ironic that Crows albums have often been misinterpreted as being about love lives, he says, because they’re really about losing your mind.

But he’s also sanely ushered his group into the digital age, via livecountingcrows.com, an Apple Store-taped iTunes exclusive (“Live From SoHo”) and a Web site blog.

Today, he’s at ease with his condition. He says, “Your days add up to your art, and maybe I wouldn’t be any good writing songs if I wasn’t going through all this. But I’ve had dreams come true that most people don’t get, so I’m not complaining. And without having the success we’ve had and to be this way? Now that would be really, really scary.”

IF YOU GO

Counting Crows, Maroon 5, Augustana

Where: Shoreline Ampthitheatre, One Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Sleep Train Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass Road, Concord

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $29.50 to $125

Contact: (415) 421-8497 or www.ticketmaster.com

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