Wednesday, July 23, 2008
In times of hardship (like, um, getting fired from the job you've held for two years over something absolutely fucking absurd) I'm wont to resort to familiarity. I have a handful of things that make me feel comfortable despite the turmoil of this world: Law and Order: SVU, Marlboro Lights, videochatting with my little sister, after dinner coffee and "Goodbye to All That" by Joan Didion-- a new addition to the list. There's another thing, too, which at this point I'm kind of embarrassed to admit, but five years ago it may have been a noun that developed into the number one descriptor of my personality: Dave Matthews Band.
Just before my parents divorced, when I was around 12 years old, my Mom bought Listener Supported, a live compilation of Dave Matthews Band songs. It was the first time I ever listened to them, and at first I was completely turned off: "Eww! A rock band with a violin!" I proclaimed, and then switched the CD player back to "Never Ever" by All Saints. (Which, btw, I just rediscovered, and it is a fantastic song to belt out while smoking a cigarette alone in your room... ahem... anyway)
After my parents divorced I was like, "Look! I'm alternative!" and bought things from Hot Topic and started listening to Something Corporate and then somehow that transitioned into me wearing flowy skirts and listening to Dave Matthews Band. I don't know. There's not enough time in the world to explicate the random and bizarre personality changes I endured during the end of middle school and beginning of high school, but I'm guessing we were all kind of like that. My parents' divorce allowed me to behave in outrageous and unexplained ways, which of course meant I became obsessed with Beat literature, and then somehow, Dave Matthews Band.
And when I say obsessed, I do quite literally mean obsessed. Owning every single CD - live or studio - that they ever put out was only the very beginning. I became a human Dave Matthews Band encyclopedia. I had on catalog every single lyric, song and notorious tour date. I could provide you with extensive bios for all band members. I had a piece published on their fan website (one that I paid $100/a year to belong to) about sharing a DMB concert experience with my Dad. I knew their inside jokes and traded bootlegs with fans I met on the message boards I spent most of my time on, like Nancies, which I think actually still exists. I even met people I'm still friends with through Nancies or at DMB shows. Every single dollar I earned at the paint your own pottery store went to CDs, merchandise, but above all: concert tickets. To this day I have seen Dave Matthews Band more than 25 times live. I can't believe I'm admitting it, but it's true. In high school I was basically a DMB roadie. I've seen them in several states including PA, NY, NJ, MA and CA. The list goes on, really. While watching them live, a band member would strike one chord and I could immediately name the song. I imagine it's how old people whose children are grown up dote over their dogs: DMB was my baby, and sometimes, when Dave did that little dance where he clicked his heels like a goddamn Wizard of Oz character, I teared up.
Somewhere between the end of high school and college my obsession began to wane. I think it was a mixture of no longer having money to spend on concert tickets (since they are now about $60 a pop) and the realization that DMB just isn't that cool. The other problem is that the caliber of fans seriously devolved during my obsession. In the beginning it was mostly hippies and ex-Deadheads and hardcore jam band fans. But if you've been to a DMB concert recently, you know that it's all really wasted 15 year olds making out on the lawn and screaming out for him to play "Everyday." God, I used to hate when they did that. Everyone knows it's lame when the band plays their radio hits-- it's almost as lame as immediately switching out your t-shirt for one you bought at the concert venue.
But it's times like these when I look fondly back on my intimate obsession with that South African hunk with a sideways smile and perpetual 5 o'clock shadow. There were times when his voice made me feel gooey like a 5th grade crush, but now I turn on his CDs when I'm looking for a little comfort: they manage to curb a certain breed of homesickness in a way nothing else can.