(This post has appeared before in past incarnations of this blog, I just added some more bits and pieces)
For many years, I have searched for a particular kind of music and a particular way of writing songs that could somehow reflect my personality – the way I am, the way I feel, the act, the way I think. It may sound odd to some, but it is true. When I was young, I grew up listening to a lot of 50’s and 60’s music, plus American country music, thanks to Kenny Rogers, whom we listen to when we go to Batangas to visit my grandparents. During high school, I was into the metal – grunge scene, thanks to my friends who introduced me to the music of Metallica, Guns n’ Roses, Nirvana and Pearl Jam. In college, I was into Pinoy rock and ska, electronica and J-Pop, judging by the albums I bought during that time. I also changed stations, shifting from 50’s-60’s to rock, and finally settling on alternative, to which I have been listening for four years now.
However, though I found the music genre I wanted to listen to, I hadn’t found the particular brand of music and the particular way of writing songs that I wanted. I could sing the songs of this and that band, and I could use some of their lyrics as poetry on the love letters that I had been writing, but they seemed artificial; it did not truly reflect my personality. And then, four years ago, in 2001, I heard the song that answered my problem. It was “The Space Between” by the Dave Matthews Band.
At that time, I had not been a fan of DMB, as they are fondly called. I hadn’t even heard of them, quite frankly. I vaguely remember listening to some of their songs that were being played by some of the radio stations here in the Philippines, but their songs then didn’t appeal much to me, probably because I was intent on listening to other songs. “The Space Between” was a whole different story, though.
I remember first listening to this song on the radio station that I am listening to now. At that time, they still played a weekly countdown of the hottest songs in the US. The first thing I noticed about this song was the lyrics. It was extraordinary. How do these lines grab you? “The space between what’s wrong and right, is where you’ll find me, hiding and waiting for you. The space between you heart and mine, is a space we’ll fill with time.” Cool, huh? I had not encountered a line or lines that expressed being in a relationship that way. So I kept on listening to that countdown every weekend, checking to see how high the song went in the countdown. I think it peaked at number 17 on the weekly countdown and number 32 for the year-end countdown. And then I got the idea of writing down the lyrics, which was difficult when you are listening on the radio, and more difficult because they only play the song once. After a while, I managed to get the album title. The song was taken from the DMB album “Everyday”. I also did a little research on the band itself; and then the radio station I was listening to played some of their earlier songs, so I got to know the names of the other DMB songs on the radio as well as their previous albums. I managed to buy the second studio album, until their fifth, albeit in cassette form; I didn’t have enough money to buy CD copies then.
“The Space Between” affected me so much during that time that I was singing it whenever I got the chance. At the office, at home, while walking, heck, even while taking a bath, I kept on singing it. I just couldn’t let go of the lyrics. It was also within that span of time that I met my girlfriend, Caroline. We met through a chat service and had been texting and talking for a couple of months when I finally decided to ask her out on a date. I brought along my DMB tapes because I always bring them with me when I drive. After our date, as we were going back to her boarding house, I asked her to listen to my favorite song. She politely listened to the song, and I even sang a few bars while driving. Then I proceeded to explain what I thought about the song and the meaning of the lines. Maybe she thought I was so passionate about explaining the meaning of the song, at least for me, that she asked me if I could e-mail her the lyrics. Which I did, and we discussed it. After a while, she was asking me to sing it to her; and eventually, when we agreed to have a relationship, it became our “theme song”.
My discovery of the music of DMB did not stop there. As I listened to all their albums, I also found other songs that had profound effects on me. Songs like “Ants Marching”, whose beat is so lively that whenever I listen to it, I feel my spirits rise. It doesn’t matter if I’m feeling down; if it’s playing, I’m already smiling. “#41”, whose inspiring lyrics reflect the way I try to live my life – “I will go in this way, and find my own way out”. “Crush”, whose bass-driven jazz-like intro begins a song that for me, is a tribute to my girlfriend. And then, I started listening more closely. Now, it wasn’t just the lyrics that got me; it was the arrangements. I love the way the songs of DMB are arranged. I can spend the whole day listening to DMB songs and pick them apart instrument by instrument. Every time I listen to one of their songs, I seem to discover something new, parts of the song so subtly placed that most people will not notice them. It may be a particular drumbeat, chord or note, something new and exciting that was not heard before when I first listened to it. And as of now, only DMB songs are playing on my CD player, my Walkman and car radio. I managed to buy one of the five cassette albums I had (then) in CD format; my aunt gifted me with four. There was a solo album, collaboration between Dave Matthews, the lead vocalist and songwriter, and his friends away from the band that I also bought in CD format. And now, I’m looking forward to their next studio album, which was released in the US last May. I just hope that they release it here in the Philippines too.
I finally found the music of my life in the Dave Matthews Band, and I am now a fan for life…
Right now, I have 7 studio albums of DMB (Remember Two Things, Under the Table and Dreaming, Crash, Before These Crowded Streets, Everyday, Busted Stuff, and their latest, Stand Up) plus Dave Matthew’s solo album (Some Devil) and two live concert albums (Live at Red Rocks and The Gorge). I’ve made some sort of “Best of…” compilation of the more famous songs by DMB, just for my personal enjoyment, which I eventually gave to some of my friends for them to listen to and enjoy [I just finished another one, but this time, it’s for Caroline on the occasion of our 3rd Anniversary. It’s not the choosing of the songs or the actual making of the CD’s that is making the preparation process longer, but the packaging), and I’ve taken pleasure in hearing them say that DMB’s music is great and totally different from what they had been listening to.
The main problem in making such a compilation is finding the albums in the first place. It’s actually very difficult to find DMB albums here in the country, especially the older ones (some albums weren’t even sold here, I think). It’s just a good thing that my aunt, Tita Debbie, who’s from the US, gives me the DMB albums as gifts whenever she comes back here in the Philippines. That’s why I got the latest album, Stand Up, only a couple of weeks after it was released in the US, several songs from which I incorporated immediately to the compilation I’m making (Dreamgirl, Old Dirt Hill, American Baby and my current favorite, Stolen Away on 55th and 3rd).