The Riff
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The Riff

90s Album Thread: Dave Matthews Band, “Under the Table and Dreaming”


We all knew it was coming.

First, we got the bootlegs from friends who attended schools down south. Then it was a self-released live album, “Remember Two Things” (I still can’t see what’s on the cover to this day, and I don’t want to talk about it).

A studio album would be next.

We didn’t have the internet and relied upon word of mouth or magazine articles for updates. Eventually, we learned that after holding out for years, The Dave Matthews Band had finally signed one of the best major label recording contracts in history. They would release a big album soon; it was just a matter of what and when.

Come the beginning of my sophomore year at Colgate “Under the Table and Dreaming” (1994) arrived.

Soon enough it was coming out of every available speaker. It was a joyous time because this album did not disappoint in the face of the hype it had created. The band had indeed gathered the “Best of What’s Around” and dropped a monster album right out of the gate. In time, it was clear to us college students that The Dave Matthews Band had graduated, and that we would have to share them with the rest of the world.

Dave Matthews also provided the aspiring acoustic guitarist such as myself with a boatload of new ways to look at and approach the instrument.

Dave himself said his style is merely a compilation of bits and pieces he lifted from other players he admired — and that might be true — but the way he put those pieces together was and continues to be really something.

For my part, I buckled down when learning a DMB song. I’d heard enough hackneyed versions in dorm rooms to know I didn’t want to contribute to that noise. For that effort I suppose I can say, you’re welcome.

But there is still a song that eludes me. It’s my favorite song on this album and it’s on the back end. I can do a pretty good version but I can’t get all the way there. When I saw them play this song live I took a break from staring at Carter Beauford and looked at Dave. His hand was moving too fast, too fluidly.

And in that moment, I suppose even the haters out there couldn’t help but watch and say “holy sh*t!”.




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Billy Hartong

Billy Hartong

Founder of the kid’s music group The Jolly Pops. Unofficial expert on all things that happened in the 1990s. Father of 3 daughters. Proud Minnesotan.

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