Album Release — Dave Matthews Tim Reynolds
Despite growing up in the 80s and 90s, I was never a “wait-in-line-for-an-album” kind of guy. Come to think of it, I don’t remember how we found out that new albums were coming out. Before the internet, new albums must have been advertised at the local record stores. Or maybe we got the info on MTV…you know, “Music Television”.
(Side note: Since I couldn’t remember, I took a consensus from a few of my old friends, and they suggested both MTV and the radio as sources for music information. That’s how we learned about concerts before going to National Record Mart at the mall to stand in line for Aerosmith tickets. (Side-side note: we did this in the mid-90s, some twenty years after they did it in Dazed and Confused.))
Regardless, the decades since the 90s have been tough on those of us who consider an entire album to be a work of art. It’s not just about one song. One song may be the hook to come from an otherwise solid album, but it’s about the album as a whole.
The integrity of the artist is tied to the whole album. (Unless it’s coming from modern pop music, where the integrity only comes from album/single sales, number of streams, views on YouTube, or whatever other metric they use today to track revenue from music. I don’t know.) Noah is right…there’s too much music now, and it’s overwhelming. But it’s not only that there’s too much: it’s that it’s condensed and canned for the masses, and it’s all over the place. It’s shit.
But I digress. Streaming services have ruined us all. Nobody listens to an album beginning to end now, but that’s where the magic was. I’m as guilty of shuffle mode as the next human, though I still hate it. Nothing was better than reading the liner notes and lyrics hundreds of times as the album played away. I would lie on my bed for hours on a Saturday, letting the music soak into my subconscious. I can still see images from those little books. They permeated my grey matter, and I love them for it.
In no way am I saying that music today is bad. I like a lot of modern stuff. Indy music is my thing because I hate modern pop. Plus, I’m at the age now where the pace is slowing on learning new things, and I can sense that I’m falling back into my romanticized musical past.
That being said, let’s take a trip back to early 1999. (Sorry, Noah, this isn’t about Californication. That’s for another piece.)
In the mid-1990s, people fell in love with the Dave Matthews Band, and for good reason. It was highly relatable great music with super lyrics and some fantastic beats. As good as it was, and as big a fan as I was, it was the 1999 release of Dave and Tim Live at Luther College that seeped into my soul.
I was away from home, then stationed near Virginia Beach at the Armed Forces School of Music (another subject for another time). I was ready to transfer to West Texas, much further from my home than I wanted to be.
Like I said above, I’m not sure how I found out this album was coming out. The internet was just starting to be a viable method of information procurement, so I must have read it on a fan site or a message board somewhere. Bootlegging and pirating weren’t viable yet, either, so I set out on a mission.
I went in search of a record store. We didn’t have GPS, so we just drove until we found the shit we wanted. I must have found a National Record Mart or local shop, but I eventually located the album.
I peeled the cellophane off the CD and cracked it open to find a shiny royal blue disc and a fluorescent yellow disc, ready and willing to be pulled into my aftermarket car stereo — complete with amp and 12" subwoofers in the trunk. (I know this sounds strange for a DMB fan, but it worked. Trust me. The first song that ever played through those speakers was Proudest Monkey from DMB live at Red Rocks.)
But this album was different. It was acoustic. It was personal. Just two guitars and a mic. And what’s most striking about it was that nobody really knew then that it existed. The album was released in 1999 but was recorded years earlier in a tiny little Iowa town in 1996 — just months before Crash would skyrocket to 7x platinum status.
The above track was my introduction to the acoustic side of Dave and Tim. It was softer, quieter, more intimate but contained many of the things people liked about their music. Not to mention that, as a guitarist myself, I was in awe of the shit Tim Reynolds could pull off. (Check out his solo piece Stream on the album.)
I would later play the album for my dad, also a guitarist, who was impressed but didn’t quite appreciate it as I did. It goes to show how tastes change over generations. Sitting here now listening to it almost twenty-two years to the day after its release, it still holds up as one of my favorite albums of all time.
So, do yourself a favor and find a copy of this album, mellow out and listen on a big loud stereo or good headphones. Grab a beer or a smoke and enjoy. I know I will.