31 Days of Music - Dave Matthews Band - Before These Crowded Streets #tinychallenges

Curtis: “Look what the music store in Corbin had!”
Me: “Turn around, get back in your car; we’re going back.”

This was the conversation we had in our last semester in college as we found that our favorite band’s album was on the shelves several days prior to its official release date. We hopped back in Curtis’ car, drove all the way back to the music store so I could snag a copy as well. We listened to the album, analyzing each track, while we made the journey there and back again. I believe we even sat down in Curtis’ room, as he had the much better sound system, to listen to it again in its entirety once we returned.

We liked the album, but didn’t love it nearly as much as the prior two. It wasn’t that we felt it inferior musically but that the production was so over the top and complex, we found ourselves missing the stripped down intensity of the prior releases. Where the prior two albums had songs that really spoke to us, this one was just good music. There is such a difference when something just doesn’t set its hooks in you.

The one thing that puzzled us both was trying to figure out the cover image. It just didn’t make any obvious sense. What are those two rings supposed to symbolize and why superimpose them on top of that blurry image of a rushing city street? It was Curtis, the coffee drinker of the two of us, who figured it out and then explained it to my by laying the jewel case flat and stacking his coffee full cup on top of it. I played it with a, “Yeah, well, I realized that” comment that didn’t fool either of us. Sometimes your drive to be cool just fails you (or in my case, it always fails you).

I feel a bit of sadness though that this was the last new DMB album Curtis and I got to share together as he would pass away just about a year later. The real sadness of this was not felt at his passing, but when the next album came out in 2001 and I realized he wasn’t there to hear it with me; that the joy we had in taking that road trip to pick apart every track would never come again.

It didn’t help that the next album was yet again a step down in quality, but light for DMB was on its way, in the form of a leaked, abandoned album that we’ll talk about in a bit…