“Idid it / Do you think I’ve gone too far?” Dave Matthews asks on the chorus of “I Did It”, the first single from the Dave Matthews Band’s latest CD, Everyday. Unfortunately, many of his so-called “die-hard” fans think he has gone too far.
Whenever this song or any other cut from the disc is played (at work, in my car, on the radio, etc.), I usually get the same reaction from people: “Oh, you’re listening to the new Dave Matthews, huh? It’s alright, I guess . . . I like his old stuff better, though,” or “Man, I went to see him last month, and it sucked! They didn’t play nearly as long as they used to.”
It’s somewhat understandable. Matthews and his bandmates (violinist Boyd Tinsley, drummer Carter Beauford, bassist Stefan Lessard and saxophonist Leroi Moore) have built a Grateful Dead-like following since their early days as a bar band in their native Virginia and since their 1993 debut Remember Two Things. Known for non-stop touring and extended jam sessions in concert, 2001 finds the boys a little older, a little weary, and a little more mature.
The version of Everyday that is available in stores is actually a second collection of songs recorded by the band for this album. The first Everyday sessions, a collection of dark, pessimistic songs penned during Matthews’ 1999 battle with depression and drinking, were chucked after being rejected by their label, and a new producer was requested. Glen Ballard (of Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill fame) was brought on board, and, due to Ballard and Matthews’ chemistry, 12 new, passionately confident tunes were created in a 10-day period.
One of the most notable changes on the disc is the inclusion of electric guitars, a big difference from all of their previous acoustic-only albums. A very grimy electric riff opens the disc, on the single “I Did It”, followed by somewhat of an explanation of what the listener is about to hear: “I’m mixing up a bunch of magic stuff / A magic mushroom cloud of care / A potion that will rock, the boat will rock / And make a bomb of love and blow it up”.
The next single, “The Space Between”, is a sweet ballad, written from a point of view of a person trying to reconcile with his lover. This cut gets my vote for most heart wrenching hook of the spring: “The space between / The tears we cry / Is the laughter (that) keeps us coming back for more”. That’s just good stuff (okay, and I am a sap). Other outstanding tunes on this “just plain great” CD include “Dreams of Our Fathers”, “If I Had It All”, “Angel”, “Mother Father” (featuring Carlos Santana on guitar), and the gospel-tinged title track.
So, to you the reader, I highly advise picking up Everyday, a new pop classic, definitely deserving of heavy rotation. And to Dave Matthews’ fickle fans, I say this: So he doesn’t play the 25-minute version of “Tripping Billies” in concert anymore. So there was — gasp! — an electric guitar on the new CD. Change is good, people! Keep in mind that Dave recently turned 34 and got married, so now he has more to do than stay on the road for five years straight. In short, he grew up, and slightly altered his style. Give him a break.