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Feeling a Part of a Movement ( My Love Affair With Dave Matthews)

Updated on July 11, 2019
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As an avid Dave Matthews fan since 1993, I've seen the ups and downs of this band. Good records and bad.

Word of mouth can change the world.

As a listener, the discovery of a new band is a solitary process. My discovery of The Dave Matthews band, felt like being picked up by my closest friends, and taken on a ride which has lasted more than two decades.

Source

I remember 1993 being a formative year for me. Earlier in the year I'd graduated high school, and started college. That fall, I experience my first heartbreak, when the girl I was seeing moved away. I felt lost and alone even though I had really great friends. My friends were the type of guys who if they heard you were feeling down, would come over with a cooler of beer and caring ear. It was during that time that my buddy Trae, introduced me to Dave Matthews.

The experience of falling in love with a new band should be akin to falling in love itself. It should excite you and scare you all at once. Falling in love happened to me a lot in the 1990's, but falling in love with the Dave Matthews band has lasted longer than my old flames.

Remember Two Things

So there I was, out with a few friends at a bonfire feeling sorry for myself. My friend Trae, who had dragged me out there, put a beer in my hand. "Just relax, and listen to this, we'll talk when its over." This was my introduction to Remember Two Things. What struck me about this situation, and what I would find later to be a hallmark of the community surrounding The DMB, is that fans were always willing to bring new people in. There I was in the lowest (or so I thought) moment in my life, and someone was willing to share something that they felt would make me feel better. The first few songs that would later become hits, didn't grab me. Tripping Billies did make me smile, and pulled me out of my funk. However, the song that stuck with me, that made me a fan, was "Seek up". The baseline was easy to fall into and move with, it was sultry and dark and passionate. It reminded you of meeting the right girl at the wrong time and falling hopelessly for her, knowing it would end badly.


That feeling is also why "Ill back You up" hit me so hard. It felt like that song mirrored the heartbreak I was experiencing. I felt as though Dave was relating to me as a person, just like my friends who dragged me out and got me to listen to this record. I began to fall in love at that moment with this band. What was different about this experience, is that once I discovered this band, I felt the need to share it with other people I cared about, because that's what had been done for me. Once hooked I wanted to hear more. I wanted to find more music by this band. It was akin to the anticipation of seeing that girl again, I wanted the same high, that same closeness. That search led me to the larger community of The Dave Matthews band. It seemed like once you met other fans, they had a tape from a concert, of songs you hadn't heard. Sometimes you heard different arrangements of songs you liked, or you'd hear an extra lyric that was live only at that show. You'd pass that tape on, in exchange for the tape of a different show. For me it was my first true experience of camaraderie. This was the first time I had a shared experience I enjoyed with people I had never met, didn't really know, and might never see again. Remember Two Things, was the promise of everything that came after. All of the love I felt that first night grew exponentially, with each record.

When Under the Table came out we did, as fans we did what we always do, welcomed people to the party. We never felt the need to be gatekeepers, or snobs. The boat just got bigger, and we gained more friends. We knew how good Ants Marching was, we knew how catchy Satellites, could be. It was like going out with your girlfriend on your arm, knowing that everyone else sees her the same way you do. You feel proud, you feel like showing her off. And you do. You have her meet all of your friends. She's your plus one at functions. She's everywhere you are. For at least ten years, that's where I was with Dave Matthews. he was always in my car, or in my CD player and later in my Ipod. I'd make copies for friends and leave them in their cars. I became that fan.

The Christmas Song

One of the problems with being "that" fan, is that you tend to burn people out on whatever it is that you're into. You as a fan begin to color other people perceptions of the band you like, for good or for bad. This has the effect of killing the magic, that your found when you discovered the music. You as a fan come off like the sad guy at the end of the bar, hoping someone would notice, however your desperation reeks when you finally get someone over.


The one song that still has magic for new listeners is the Christmas Song. As i get older I think back to when I played in my own band. The Christmas Song was the song I would warm up with. I've watched people cry when I've sung it, and seeing that has had a lasting effect on me. What struck me about that song, is that it doesn't come off initially as a song about Jesus. When that line hits, and you watch the expressions of other listeners change, its breathtaking. What I've come to understand about the feeling that happens in conjunction with that song is a lot like the ending credits to Kevin Smith's movie "Red State". If you didn't know that you just listened to a Dave Matthews song, when you hear the Christmas Song, you're surprised. Surprised to hear the depth of feeling that comes out of that song, and surprised that the topic is so deftly handled. While its the last song on Remember Two Things, over time I think its the song that has brought more people into the boat than the hits.

The experience of falling in love with a new band should be akin to falling in love itself. It should excite you and scare you all at once. Falling in love happened to me a lot in the 1990's, but falling in love with the Dave Matthews band has lasted longer than my old flames.

© 2019 Ed Coleman

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