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In a boy’s dream.

June 12, 2009

CONFESSIONS OF A ’90s SURVIVOR

crashvideo

Dave Matthews Band – Crash Into Me
From Crash

Earlier this week, I was in my favorite little Madison record store with my friend Cindy when she pointed to the rack of Sale CDs on the back wall and said “Let’s check them out.” For some odd reason that we never figured out, a copy of Dave Matthews Band’s brand new album Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King sat amongst the obscure $4.99 CDs by artists we’d never heard of or arguably not worth even $4.99.

“Why is this here?” she said.

“Maybe it’s an indication of how good it is?” I offered.

She held the CD for a few moments, deliberating whether or not to buy it. I found this amusing. Everyone goes through their Dave Matthews phase (even Dave!), but it’s the post-Dave phase that varies greatly in people. I think most of the hardcore fans resign themselves to the fact that they’ll buy (or maybe illegally download) whatever new album comes out — even if it is crap — much the way I do with new Paul McCartney albums. You never know, right? Somewhere on there might be a song that hits you the way others did at the height of your fandom. Other people give up completely, resigning Dave’s music to a time long-since gone involving collegiate goodwill, road trips to Dave shows and general awe for anyone able to pick out a Dave song in their own semi-to-not-at-all talented way on an acoustic guitar.

My Dave phase likely came way before it should have. I fell in love with a few songs on the Under the Table and Dreaming album, and then eagerly bought Crash upon its release in 1996. But although I liked “Too Much” and “So Much to Say,” I lost interest with the album quickly and was pretty much off the group by year’s end. I wasn’t even out of junior high yet.

Of course in December 1996,  just after my minor flame for the group burned out, they released the “Crash Into Me” single. Some five minutes of audio that continues to help toss millions of girls’ virginity. Some five minutes of audio that is now prerequisite for cougar hunters. I don’t think any college student of the last 13 years (and presumably forever more) has been the same since.

Nor has the childhood taunt of “I’m the king of the castle, you’re the dirty rascal.”

You can’t deny that “Crash Into Me” is a romantic song. Sure, if you go through the lyrics, it’s actually a little twisted in that it reads like the thoughts of a guy crouched in the bushes outside your house watching you undress at night. Normally its ground for at least a restraining order, but I guess if that guy can do a weird little kick dance, girls are a bit more forgiving.

But something about the simmering passion — be it in the lyrics, Dave’s delivery or the way his band rolls the music along in a rushed, if muted, march just got America all hot and bothered. Seriously. I wouldn’t be surprised if the vast majority of girls found this song as potent an aphrodisiac as chocolate.

If you think I’m overstating this or you’ve got a lot of time to kill and need a laugh, peruse the comments left for the video on the band’s YouTube channel. Here’s one of my favorite exchanges from the hundreds of comments:

—When this song came out, it was a big part of a hot, hot, love affair I had for awhile with this younger guy…my knees still get weak when I hear this……………………..
—I felt the same way having a hot love affair with a younger man….Still miss him

—I am that man, message me.

—LOL!!!!!
i confess that this reminds me of a man, too. i almost killed myself when he left me. *sighs* thank god for dave for this song, which made the pain hurt a little less.

Besides the poor use of ellipses (it bothers me that people don’t realize that anything more than the appropriate three periods does not make the implied pause or amount of material being left out any more dramatic), this is the kind of exchange that just doesn’t happen with other popular 90s songs. Like “Baby’s Got Back,” for example.

In fact, of songs released in the 1990s that basically implied or soundtracked sex for listeners, it comes down to three: “Crash Into Me,” Sting’s “Fields of Gold” and Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” But only “Crash Into Me” remains as potent now as it was at the time of its peak popularity.

And what does this say about us as a society? That deep down we’re perennially attracted to the idea of borderline perverse voyeurism? That a rolling acoustic strum over a few open chords is an easier way into a girl’s pants than drinks and an expensive meal? That getting the lyric “And I come into you…” past radio and television network sensors several times a day is all sorts of awesome? That it sounds particularly fantastic when inebriated?

Isn’t that the mindset of a college sophomore?

If that’s how it is, fine. I’m not a prude. But how does it continue to transcend our emotions beyond college? I assume special memories of “hot, hot love affairs” are a good sticking point. I never had any romantic affiliations with the song, so maybe that’s why it confounds me.  By the time college came about and fling opportunities were present, my Dave allegiance had been dead for five years. Plus the girl I dated for the majority of my time in college was completely ambivalent towards Dave.

Yet I remember other guys in my dorm coming into my room and asking to seize my guitar so they could back to their room to try learning “Crash Into Me,” or “#41” or, by that point, “The Space Between.” They never quite got it right, and eventually I started to resent the fact that my guitar was being used by other dudes as a cheap tool to get easy sex. I mean, I bought it so I could do that. They could go by their own damn guitars.

And after college, they got jobs, or failed to get jobs and started grad school. And some of them became less interested in popular music. And some of them no longer had the time for weekend Dave trips. And some of them actually asked “Wait, which one?” when LeRoi died.

But every time a Dave album comes out — no matter how crap it might be — an immeasurable amount of sentimental journeys are embarked upon under the faint hope that something might prove as timebending as “Crash Into Me.”

I haven’t heard a note of GrooGrux. I haven’t put a Dave Matthews Band CD into any personal sound system since Crash. I don’t intend to. But for others… the cynicism proves a tough competitor for the sentimentality. Cindy was really torn about buying the album.

After a couple more jokes from me, she put it down and walked out of the B-side empty handed. She didn’t even pay the discounted price for the new album. Maybe her battle’s finally decided? Or maybe she went back the next day when I wasn’t there to point and laugh.

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2 comments

  1. […] Click here for the direct link to the DMB entry […]


  2. what a dream!



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