As psychologists, we say that the first dream that a client has during treatment speaks to his or her therapeutic goals, and/or how the therapy will progress. I believe that this same thinking can be applied to understanding the first song that a band chooses for a tour opener. This year, the Dave Matthews Band began their premier summer concert on 5/28/10 at the Comcast Amphitheater in Hartford, CT, with “JTR,” a number that hasn't been played live since 9/3/06. So, what can we infer from this fantastic selection?
Probably the most obvious characteristic of this track is it's rare inclusion in recent live sets. The work originated from “John the Revelator,” also known as “Rain Down On Me,” a tune performed by Dave Matthews and Carlos Santana in 1999. “JTR,” as it was later dubbed, appears on the unreleased album, “The Lillywhite Sessions,” and, until now, on dmbalmanac.com's list of songs that have not been played full band in over 1000 days. After belting out this gem and welcoming the crowd, Dave yells “Surprise!” underlining the core element of this treat, and what I perceive to be the theme of this year's upcoming performances. In fact, the crew notes from this initial show promise, “lots of surprises in store for us this summer,” and with treasures like “Sweet Up and Down,” “So Right,” “Busted Stuff,” “Hello Again,” and “Kit Kat Jam,” already being liberated, it seems that the band intends on making our dreams a reality. It certainly feels like these musicians have listened to our requests for the unexpected, and intend on delivering just that. Before playing “Seven,” Dave remarks that although this song is often played, it's okay because he likes it. Clearly, our wishes for variety have been heard. As a side note, if this “Lillywhite Sessions,” fiesta continues and the guys play “Captain” in, oh say, Charlotte, I will be ecstatic! Hey, you never know who reads these things! But I digress.
Not only does “JTR” predict what is to come, but I also imagine it to be symbolic of the current state of the band. With favorites like this, it's always fun to note the evolution of Dave's words while searching for meaning. In the main lyrics, Dave sings, “Look, we play our cards, and I question by the grace of what do we play our cards at all.” That's a far cry from the current rendition which asserts, “I play my song, but it's by the grace of God that I play my song for y'all.” This reminds me of a statement our frontman made in a recent interview about the success of his career depending on him staying out of his own way. It sounds to me like he is in a very spiritual place, one where he is ready to give us his all, connect with the music, and let the love, life, and beauty of the experience rain down on him.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self