How Did Monica Potter Save the Counting Crows’ Song, “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby”?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about music and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the music urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC LEGEND: Monica Potter saved the Counting Crows’ song, “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” from never being released.

Adam Duritz, of the Counting Crows, is well known for writing songs about actual people and a great example of this is the song “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” on the band’s third album, This Desert Life.

The song is based on the actor Monica Potter, who Duritz had seen in a few then-recent films like Con Air and Patch Adams and so he had a dream about her that inspired the song. Amazingly enough, the REAL Mrs. Potter ended up saving the song from oblivion!

After the massive success of the band’s first album, Duritz befriended a number of famous people in Hollywood (he briefly dated both Jennifer Aniston AND Courteney Cox in the early years of Friends) and so one day, one of the friends that he had made called him up the night that the band was actually just about to specifically record “Mrs. Potters Lullaby” to let Duritz know that they were having dinner with Potter’s agent and that Potter was meeting them soon and that he should come join them. Duritz did so and, of course, soon the topic came up that he wrote a song about her.

Duritz explained what happened next to Dyllan Furness:

Wait,” Monica pauses, “you wrote a song about me?”

“Well, no. I mean, not exactly,” Adam stumbles to explain. “It’s a song about an imaginary version of you. The song is about what happens when you fall in love with people who don’t exist, like with a person on the movie screen.”

When he explained that he was actually going to have to leave because he still needed to record that actual track that night, Potter asked if she could come and watch and he agreed.

So they recorded the song and did about eight different takes and that was that.

Duritz and Potter then became friendly and they were hanging out a while later when Duritz complained about how the song wasn’t going to make the album after all as they had ruined all of the takes with over-production. As he told Furness:

[O]ne night, while over at her house, he says, “The song is terrible. It’s a total piece of shit.”

“No, it’s not,” she says.

“You haven’t heard it now. It’s terrible.”

“No, it’s not,” she insists. “I listen to it every day.” Monica walks over to her boombox and presses play. From the speakers flow those rhythmic piano chords, a song, and a voice that Adam knows is his own, but which he hasn’t heard properly for weeks.

He lets the tape run a bit and shouts, “This is awesome! This is just killer! What the fuck is it?” He runs over and ejects the cassette from the boombox. Potter TK4 is scribbled across the front. “Potter take four?”

The Crows’s producer handed her this cassette the night she visited the studio, Monica tells him, and she’s been playing it nonstop ever since. “Well, I’m going to need to borrow this,” Adam says.

And that tape was just put directly on to the album, without any extra production and its still a well regarded Counting Crows decades later.

Very cute.

The legend is…

STATUS: True

Thanks to Dyllan Furness and Adam Duritz for the delightful information.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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