Our 10 fave Dave Matthews Band songs — and yours?
With the May 10 release of Stand Up, Dave Matthews Band’s sixth studio album, the jazz-rock jam band shows a politically charged side. It’s the group’s first release since 2002’s Busted Stuff and a reunion of sorts after Matthews’ 2003 solo effort Some Devil. As they fill arenas with their Grateful Dead-caliber fan base (a summer tour kicks off at New York City’s Roseland Ballroom May 9), we’ll be filling the old iPod with our favorite tracks. Check out our Top 10 list, then post your own.
”Ants Marching” (Under the Table and Dreaming, 1994)
This trippy ditty has all the elements of classic DMB: quirky lyrics, Matthews’ floating vocals, and dueling fiddle and sax solos. EW’s Greg Kot called it ”an arena-ready hoedown.”
”#34” (Under the Table and Dreaming, 1994)
Though other songs on Dreaming are more complex (such as ”Warehouse” and ”What Would You Say”), this soft, acoustic guitar-driven instrumental is a simple treat to end the album, fostering an appreciation for the group’s quieter side.
”#41” (Crash, 1996)
The band’s second album may be best known for the hit ”Crash Into Me,” but ”#41” is even more memorable: a full-blown musical plea for forgiveness that reveals a mature, yearning Dave (”I’m begging slow/I’m coming here/Only waiting/I wanted to stay/I wanted to play/I wanted to love you”).
”Tripping Billies” (Crash, 1996)
This rollicking cut is perfect for getting a crowd to jump around; it combines wicked drumming by Carter Beauford and a party-hard credo: ”Eat, drink, and be merry/For tomorrow we die.” No wonder so many frat-boys love DMB.
”Don’t Drink the Water” (Before These Crowded Streets, 1998)
With the addition of guest Béla Fleck’s funky banjo and some extremely dark lyrics (”I live with the notion/That I don’t need anyone but me/Don’t drink the water/There’s blood in the water”), Dave expands his musical horizons to a more shadowy place.
”Satellite” (Live at Luther College, 1999)
Matthews strips down the prettiest tune from his first album: No band. No arena-size crowd. Just Dave, a guitar, and his soaring falsetto.
”Everyday” (Everyday, 2001)
On the title track of the band’s fourth studio album, Dave takes a page from the Beatles’ musical-spiritual pilgrimage, exclaiming, ”All you need is love” with a gospel-like chorus.
”Grace Is Gone” (Busted Stuff, 2002)
The original ”Grace” — from the much-talked-about-though-mediocre ”Lillywhite Sessions” — wasn’t so amazing, but Matthews infuses the new version with country soul (listen to that twangy guitar), giving the song an upbeat feel that belies its depressing, boozy lyrics (”She broke my heart/My Grace is gone/One more drink and I’ll move on”).
”All Along the Watchtower” (The Central Park Concert, 2003)
It’s no small feat to put a memorable spin on a song made famous by Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan. For a taste of the band’s amped-up live performances, check out the end of this 13-minute track, as Dave channels a bit of Jim Morrison, scream-singing ”Fire!” over and over.
”Crush” (Live at the Gorge, 2004)
Recorded at a 2002 concert in Washington State, this track starts with a minute-long solo from bassist Stefan Lessard and dissolves into a full-on jazz-improvisation, with Leroi Moore and Boyd Tinsley trading sax and fiddle licks over a piano. If you close your eyes, you’ll think you’re at a Medeski Martin and Wood concert.