Sometime last summer, I was discussing my fantasy Dave Matthews Band set-list with my husband. Predictably, I listed many of my usual favorites including “Bartender,” “One Sweet World,” “#41,” “Pig,” and “Granny,” (although I noted that “Pig,” and “Granny,” aren’t typically played on the same night). But hey, this wasn’t about probability, it was about desire, so I went all out and said, “And ‘Captain,‘ I would be SO happy if they played ‘Captain.‘ But they won’t, I mean they haven’t since 2004, and that was only once...” Apparently, I forgot which band I was talking about, because with DMB all things are possible.
Not only did our boys bust out “Captain” at the caravan last weekend, but they also pulled out “Break Free,” “Can’t Stop,” and “Kill the King,” all of which have been living under wraps since 2006. And that’s not all. A bounty of new covers came to light in Atlantic City, including Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion,” Morphine’s “Buena,” Procul Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” and Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times.”
Over three amazing shows, almost 60 songs were played without a single repeat. And according to those who were lucky enough to attend the festival, the energy was out of this universe. It’s such a testament to the undying chemistry between the band members that they can come together after a long break and fall right back into their rhythmic groove. Kind of like old friends who haven’t spoken for years but easily pick up the conversation when time allows.
As writers, we often say that our stories are already written, being held by an invisible net, and that all we need to do is access that wealth and find a way to translate what is out there into our minds and onto our blank pages. I wonder if a similar theme occurs with music. Is there a running musical stream somewhere in the ethos that great musicians are able to tap into? And if so, who does music belong to? The performers? The fans? The composers? I’m not sure about all songs, but at least with the Dave Matthews Band, the music seems to transcend the idea of ownership. As with the torrents that we download, the beauty of the music itself exists as a shared entity.
And still, I wish we knew more about Dave’s creative process. Over the years, he has offered bits and pieces of what happens to him when he works. I recently came across this video taken during the making of “Before These Crowded Streets,” in 1998. In it Dave says, “it’s frightening when you are working on something and it just kicks the crap out of you...maybe in the creative process getting the crap kicked out of you is a good thing in the long run, but it’s frightening while it’s going on.”
And so I just want to say thank you, to Dave, Carter, Boyd, Stefan, Tim, Rashawn, Jeff, and, of course, LeRoi, for getting the crap kicked out of yourselves time and again so that we can all break free.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self