Paulelmo's Blog

Dave Matthews Band’s Under the Table and Dreaming–a Tuesday Review

This is the third Tuesday Review I’ve started today. The first one, which you’ll probably see next week, was of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Then, I began thinking about how it’s Beth Ann’s birthday and wondering if I shouldn’t focus on music she’d appreciate more.

Beth Ann and I have been friends for 22 years, but we only lived in the same city parts of the first three of those years. Our friendship isn’t as active as it was on New Year’s Eve, 1996, when we went Hampton Roads, VA for a Dave Matthews Band show.

I was thinking about that show today when I played the band’s major label debut, 1994’s Under the Table and Dreaming.

I hadn’t listened to this album for so long, and it did the exact same thing that it did to me when I would listen to it back in the day, picked me up and shook me; it grabbed me by the ankles and spun me around like a furious merry-go-round in the rain, my form missing as many of the drops as it hit, my trailing fingers skirting the water of mud puddles, droplets of water flinging to the vibe of the music.

I don’t know why I equate the music on this album with a rainstorm, but I do. I have thoughts of the band playing the songs during an afternoon summer shower, warm and perfect to be frolicked in, the water crashing off the cymbals as they’re hit and spraying off the guitar strings as they’re plucked and slicing off those of the violin as they’re bowed.

I see the water dripping off the smiling faces of the musicians, not simply this small collection of men, but all of us, joyous in the frolicking, trying to merge with that point where the atoms of the water merge with those of the music in wet vibration.

I think I get this because the album just seems to be as purely jubilant as children gone puddle jumping. The pace is thoughtful to giddy to frenzied as the band rolls through “The Best of What’s Around,” “What Would You Say,” “Rhyme and Reason,” “Typical Situation,” “Dancing Nancies,” “Ants Marching,” “Jimi Thing,” “Warehouse,” and “#34.”

And interspersed within those are the three offerings on which the band chose to slow it down that time around, “Satellite,” “Lover Lay Down,” and “Pay for What You Get.”

I was never a big fan of any of those slower songs before today. I think they seemed like a waste of the time that the band could spend on more vibey stuff, but, having listened to the album with these fresh ears, I see how important they are to the pacing; if it was all a non-stop onslaught of riffs and runs and jams and gushes, it might simply be too much to take.

Some days, my favorite song from this album is “Jimi Thing,” the song in which Dave sings that classic line that is so fitting of this unit’s music, “Feel good keep me floating just for a while.”

Feel good keep me floating, indeed.

Happy birthday, Beth Ann. Sorry this posted just about as soon as it was over, but you know how things go sometimes.

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