Back in 2005, TG4 used to show episodes of the esteemed American music show, VH1 Storytellers. Storytellers was a show that used to interview famous figures in music to explain the meaning behind some of their better known songs. Down through the years the show has featured names like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and John Mayer, among others, but the particular episode that I remember most fondly was the one that featured Dave Matthews Band. This was to be the first time that I had ever even heard of the band, nevermind any of their music, but there was something about the first song that they performed on the night that instantly drew me in and lead to the band becoming one of my favourites and placing them firmly on my ‘Music Bucket List’. So much did I enjoy their set on the show, I recorded the audio using the microphone of my Creative ZEN Micro mp3 player so that I could listen to it away from the TV. As you can imagine, the sound quality was awful on those recordings and because I didn’t even know many of the song titles a lot of the tracks were just titled ‘Dave Matthews Band 1’, ‘Dave Matthews Band 2’, etc., but they got me by.
Dave Matthews Band started their musical journey in 1991 when then Virginian bartender Dave Matthews was convinced by a friend of his to record a demo of songs and try to recruit a band. It was to be an inspired course of action. Since their inception, Dave Matthews Band have gone on to release ten studio albums: Remember Two Things (1993); Under The Table and Dreaming (1994); Crash (1996); Before These Crowded Streets (1998); Everyday (2001); Busted Stuff (2002); Stand Up (2005); Big Whiskey & the GrooGrux King (2009); Away from the World (2012); and Come Tomorrow (2018), and are one of the best-selling bands of all time.
This article will look at some of my favourite songs by the band, and the reasons why I feel they are worth taking notice of.
Crash Into Me (Crash, 1996)
This is just beautiful…
Old Dirt Hill (Stand Up, 2005)
Old Dirt Hill is a beautifully crafted piece of music reminiscing about some our favourite moments from when we were younger and it successfully tapes into that sense of nostalgia that we all have. This is an especially lovely version of it performed by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, minus the rest of the band. Since song has also become synonymous in my head with a certain someone from my past as well, so naturally listening to it is complicated these days.
Rhyme and Reason (Under the Table and Dreaming, 1994)
Say what you want about Dave Matthews Band, and many people do, but there is no way that you can deny the incredible level of musicianship of all the members. The first thing that drew me this track was the excellent rhythm line being played by Matthews as he works through a fascinating study on the stresses that fill our heads on a regular basis and how often there can only be one way to distract from them.
Where Are You Going (Busted Stuff, 2002)
This is the band during one of their more touching and beautiful moments. A simple love song about being willing to follow that special someone to the ends of the world if needs be.
Louisiana Bayou (Stand Up, 2005)
Across their career and discography there is plenty of evidence of the ability that Dave Matthews Band have for storytelling through their music. One of the strongest demonstrations of this comes in the song Louisiana Bayou where we are treated to stories about living in the secluded countryside of Louisiana and all that this might entail. This performance from the Weekend On The Rocks DVD from 2005 showcases the visercal power of the song live, with a little help from Robert Randolph on steel pedal guitar.
So Much To Say (Crash, 1996)
So Much To Say is probably my favourite song by the band. Again a fantastic demonstration of the musicianship across the band as well as Matthews ability to create and formulate ideas through unusual lyrics. Matthews articulates the sense of frustration that many of us feel when we are unable to express ourselves in certain situations, and does it with a certain sense of style.