The Whole Lillywhite Story
By Jake Vigliotti
January 2, 2007
“There are people who feel some sort of ownership, or spend a lot of time thinking about defining what we are. But people need to lighten up a little bit.” – Dave Matthews, 5/31/01.
Preparation for a new DMB album began in the summer of 1999. The band was sound-checking some new songs – Sweet Up And Down was one – that summer, and the buzz from fans was this album would be a fitting follow-up to the smash hit Before These Crowded Streets. Fans so eagerly anticipated the new album, they were thirsting for any information they could receive.
By November of 1999, Dave had written a few new songs (1). He had actually performed at least one at a small bar in Oklahoma, during breaks filming “Where the Red Fern Grows”. (2) Slowly, news of the new songs began to seep from Charlottesville to the internet world.
The late 90’s/early 00’s were a different time for DMB. Despite being at the top of their popularity, people associated with the band could still talk about some ‘inside’ stuff on fan-sites. Nancies.org and dmbml.com had their message boards frequented by not only Red Light employees, but producer Steve Lillywhite himself. When a song was completed in studio, it wasn’t uncommon for someone associated with the band to go to a fansite (it seemed to generally be dmbml.com) and post excitedly about a new yet-to-be-named (or named for that matter) tune.
By January 2000, DMB had already recorded a very rough demo – actually they had two ‘rough demos’ (more on that later). Only two ‘complete’ songs (Build You A House, JTR) were on that early demo, but even the rough sound for some ‘insiders’ was all they needed to begin the buzz in the internet community. Information about the early tracks was sometimes hard to put together – there were some fans making up ‘insider information’ – but in hindsight there was more legit info than we all knew at the time.
One of the first songs to be mentioned online was Grace Is Gone. Insiders talked about a country song and how it turned out beautifully. This info made it to The ML (as DMBML.com was nicknamed) on a February 15, 2000 post (the date of either the final mix or the final version being decided upon) (3). Naturally, some fans doubted the truth of this, and others fretted over the ‘country’ sound. Overall, though, the new direction pleased the majority of fans (4). Posts followed shortly after the Grace Is Gone news talking about an upbeat song (Sweet Up And Down – not identified by name at that time) and a reworking of Crazy (aka Captain). The on-line community shook. They wanted more info. And soon.
The first soundclip to leak from the Charlottesville sessions occurred after a heated debate where an ‘insider’ was discussing what he considered the best song. He did not mention a name for the song, but did provide what he considered audio evidence of it. A short clip of a musical portion of a song (no words) made it out. Some fans laughed. “It doesn’t even sound like DMB” was a common cry. A few believed the authenticity of the song, but overall, it was rejected as a fake. The music was from Monkey Man (5).
To the distinguishing fan, knowledge of 5 songs – Grace Is Gone, Captain, Sweet Up And Down, Monkey Man, and Raven - described as a Don’t Drink The Water meets #34 (6) was available on your local message board . Raven didn’t get nearly the play the other tracks did (possibly due to the revolving lyrics on it). But prior to March, there was already more info about the sessions than any leaked info on any album since.
In March 2000, the ML received some information from Producer Steve Lillywhite. Describing briefly some songs, fans gained a bit more info about Monkey Man (called Golden Monkey at the time), Crazy (going by Captain), John The Revelator (shortened to JTR), Bartender, and Digging A Ditch (7). In all 10 songs were mentioned.
Incidentally, #40 was briefly mentioned but not by Lillywhite. Other sources reported that #40 was tried and abandoned in studio early in the sessions. At that time, the general thought was #40 would be included on the album.
One song not mentioned but hyped by ‘insiders’ was being called “One Eyed Fish”. People were calling it haunting, and for a brief period, the greatest craze in hoaxing was to say that you either had or heard One Eyed Fish. The One Eyed Fish craze can be seen as a point of no return in the hype the sessions received on-line. The call for clips changed from a desire to hear to a God-given right to hear the clips.
Around the 22nd of April, the first ‘official’ clip made its way to the net. Red Light released a clip of Digging A Ditch (8). After a month of straight hype – including some leaks of a clip coming – this was considered a letdown by most. It wasn’t a known song fans wanted; it was the unknown songs that fans desired. As the drum beat got louder around the DMB fansites, the drum beat got darker in studio, unbeknownst to fans.
Despite published reports of delays in the recording process (9), fans seemed to think that the sessions were just peachy. In fact, it had been a tough time for Dave. His step-father passed away, making his mother a two-time widow. And some other things personally were going on for Dave, which made the tone of his writings a bit darker than his usual dark stuff. Add in the recording setup; the band recorded in Charlottesville – against the better wishes of Lillywhite. The producer feared that there would be too many distractions for the band in their home town. Published reports of baseball games, family outings, and general ‘other things to do’ seemed to confirm his fears (10).
In April of 2000, some kinks in the armor of the sessions made it to the internet. Mainly, the talk of differences in takes of songs, and style of songs made little impact on the fans. The completion of Captain occurred around this time, and the love song contained a peculiar refrain; “Why should I/Be Hypnotized/By the Promise of a Long Life”. The darkness even permeated the most promising love song on the album.
Sometime in late April, RCA executives heard a rough cut of the sessions. What they probably heard was something close to what we now know as The Lillywhite Sessions, but it was probably a more recent cut (more on that later). “Where’s the Tripping Billies?” That is the quote most associated with the listening party (11). A lot is put on that infamous quote as being the nail in the coffin for the sessions. It was Carter, however, who began the nixing process. “Finally I told our A&R guy, Look, this is not happening.” (12) But Carter just said what everyone was thinking – the album was dead. It’s time to move on.
There was one last ditch effort to save the sessions. On May 11, an insider excitedly posted on The ‘ML that a new song, Grey Street was complete (13). And it was a hit! The excitement jumped off the page. The sessions were saved! Of course, some fans thought this was yet another hoax (not believing that Julia Grey (14) still had an influence over Dave due to the non-American spelling of the word). But a few other fans were taken aback: What do you mean, ‘saved’? Was there something going on that we, the fans, didn’t know about?
The decision to postpone the album until after the tour began was announced in May (15). Most fans were expecting a July-August release, and even more fans were happy about the delay. At that time, the only songs that were not ‘road tested’ prior to their album appearance were a handful from the Before These Crowded Streets album. This road-testing was taken as a return to the roots of the band. A number of fans expressed relief that Dave would go back to writing songs on the road. What most didn’t realize was that Dave doesn’t write on the road (16). It was another missed hint by fans that something was awry.
According to people associated with the band, not every song was to planned to be played on the road; only the complete songs (in their minds). Tinkering would occur to most of the songs, both live and in soundcheck. Bartender and Digging A Ditch, the two songs previously written to the sessions, were the most complete songs. Sweet Up And Down, the oldest of the newly written songs, was ready as well. JTR, a reworked song from Carlos Santana’s Supernatural sessions, and Raven with its hook taken from a 1995 Typical Situation intro, were pretty well set. #40 was recorded but always remained a mystery to whether or not it would be played live; it usually was a last second decision by Dave and not on the printed setlist. The last new song from the sessions, Grey Street seemed ready to go, musically at least. Additionally, at the end of the sessions, in an attempt to put a bit more upbeat tempo to the album, #36 was resurrected and attempted(17). Sources say that the song was never recorded full-band during the session (only Dave solo) (18). #36 would be played in its original state for the last time in 2000.
Songs that were not ready or just scrapped were Get In Line; a song from 1994 that had a funny way of popping up in some studio sessions. Build You A House; a song early in the sessions that was scrapped completely. Monkey Man; which had gone through a number of changes and was all but scrapped. Captain; which got too dark. The last song that was ‘not ready’ was Kit Kat Jam, which like today never found it’s way lyrically.
As the new songs debuted, fans loved what they heard. Lillywhite made an announcement via the bands official site that the DMB would indeed return to the studio after the tour and work up the songs. Thanksgiving was a timeframe for the album. Maybe Christmas (19).
But a funny thing happened on the way to the delay: Fans love of the new songs eclipsed anything that had been played before. A Soundcheck of One Eyed Fish (as it was called by fans then) made its way around the message boards, and despite the high wind and noise on the recording, fans swooned for this ‘unheard’ song. The band wasn’t feeling it, but everything they touched – to fans – was gold. A Soundcheck jam clip from Chicago was put on the Warehouse fan site. Fans loved the sound and openly pondered what new song it was (turns out it was an early working of Joy Ride). A scant 10 shows into the tour, fans were already starved for more stuff from the sessions. She’s My Bitch, as Dave introduced it, debuted on July 3 . Little did we know that Busted Stuff - it’s proper name – would be the last song to debut from the sessions live that tour.
There was another way to hear some of the new stuff. MusicToday held a contest asking for volunteers to tour with the band to promote the new album (and other artists). Digging A Ditch and Captain were among the clips played outside venues at the MusicToday Tent. Fans were literally being bombarded with songs from an album that was already eagerly anticipated.
As July moved to August, it became apparent to fans that no more lilywhite sessions songs were coming out. There was some talk of the album being re-recorded, but for the most part, no one (of the on-line fans) really bought into that talk. They couldn’t believe the songs so popular in the Summer of 2000 would be reworked.
In September/October 2000, Dave flew to the Los Angeles area to meet with producer Glen Ballard. The official site reported the news as the following:
Beginning Monday, October 9, Dave Matthews Band will re-enter the studio to begin recording their fourth studio album, this time with producer Glen Ballard.
The band has enjoyed the short break following the Summer tour and is looking forward to working with Ballard. The band expects to record some of the new songs that were played on tour, as well as additional songs that have been written recently, and all involved are extremely excited about the project.
Fans were shocked to hear this, but the greatest worry was what would happened to songs like Grey Street, Grace Is Gone, Bartender, and the others. After all, fans just presumed that Ballard, a known Pop producer, would take those songs and make them sound more radio friendly. Ballard famously produced Alanis Morissette's “Jagged Little Pill”. For all of its hype as being an Alternative album, it was merely a pop album that was slickly produced for mass media consumption. So if Ballard could take Morissette’s harsh lyrics surely he could take Dave’s dark lyrics and make them radio friendly. Right?
Ballard took a different approach with Dave; the two sat around and played guitar (and piano), shooting riff’s off each other to see what stuck. Certainly the songs from the prior sessions were played, but nothing seemed to stick. Dave played #36 for Ballard – the last song attempted in Charlottesville back in May – and the lyrics and beat were rearranged to become what we now know as Everyday. The lyrics were an improvement over what became of #36 (formerly the lyrics were a tribute to slain South African freedom fighter Chris Hani, but the gory lyrics describing his death were changed to those describing what sounds like a High School Dance), but Ballard committed his first sin against DMB fans; he messed with a song fans loved.
Ballard never worked with an artist like Dave Matthews. He never worked with a band as talented as DMB. He never had a fan-base as rabid and protective as the DMB fan. Ballard’s track record was with big bands with a fan base accustomed to hearing their songs on the radio (Aerosmith, Backstreet Boys). Also, Dave’s songwriting dwarfed Ballard’s previous clients. Ballard wrote songs for Soap Opera actors wanting to be singers (see Jack Wagner), Dave wrote songs about Jesus, Apartheid, and universal love. Ballard attached his name as a writing credit to the new session songs. Strike two before the ball was even thrown.
Dave ended up writing the entire album Everyday in a week with Ballard. In addition to the #36 rewrite, Dave used an old intro to Jimi Thing (used extensively during the Dave and Tim ’97 tour) to make the song Angel. Little Thing, always a fan favorite, had its refrain pried out and inserted into Dave’s ‘rap song’ Dreams Of Our Fathers. Ballard’s biggest mistake may have been what instruments he had laying around. One day Dave picked up an electric guitar – the riff he played became The Space Between. But it was the electric guitar that would shake fans.
November 3rd was the day that the Lillywhite’s died. The official site announced that the new album would be, well, new (20). The fan reaction was like a certain town in New Jersey after Orson Welles “War Of The Worlds”. Shortly after the official announcement, word came out that Dave had plugged in. More panic. The rest of the Matthews Band had yet to hear all of the songs, a poster leaked in early November. Oh no. This new album, written with Pop-svengali Glen Ballard, was DOA before it was even recorded. A calm did reach fans with the announcement of a winter tour. Hope was that A. the new songs would be played (and mature a bit), and B. the beloved Lillywhite Session songs would be heard for a final time.
The First Show of the December run featured one Lillywhite session song (Grey Street). This probably wasn’t a deviant act, but the night of and following day internet boards lit up with panic. What happened to the other ones? Why aren’t they playing the new ones? How bad can they be? And so on and so on. The following show made people things were back to normal (two Lillywhite songs), and an anonymous post on the ML mentioned that the band hadn’t learned all the new songs stopped most of the villagers from torching the castle. But more Lillywhite songs were played on the December tour. Some fans began thinking they had some power with the band. Had the complaints of December 3rd and 4th, 2000, brought about change?
It was also during this time that fans heard the first songs from the new sessions. Everyday appeared as an outro to #41. Fans seemed neutral on the song. Some openly wondered how generic the music was if the lyrics could be lifted out and put with a simple backbeat to #41? IEM recordings caught teases of I Did It, Angel, and When The World Ends. Those recordings didn’t make it ‘world wide’ until after the Everyday Albums’ release. The only one that was pointed out by fans was the Angel tease that some recognized as the old intro to Jimi Thing. On January 3, fans finally got to hear the first song from the Everyday album; I Did It. In addition to radio play, Red Light Mgmt. leaked the track to Napster.
Reaction to the song came quickly. On the bright side, the inclusion of Boyd singing (or rapping) was seen as a good thing. On the other hand, everything else sucked. And yes, criticism was that harsh. Too short, Too pop, Too Sucky, Too Simple lyrically. The message boards were filled with ‘who can top this’ reasons for the song title: “I Did It! I mailed it in on this album!”; “I Did It! I was inspired by a bowel movement!”, and so on.
Clearly, this wasn’t what the management of DMB expected from their fanbase. January 12th featured the second audio clip from the Everyday album promotion website. When The World Ends received a more luke warm response than the previous days clip, The Space Between. On the January 11th clip, the piano could clearly be heard, despite the fact that there was no piano player in DMB (this was pre-Butch). The clips, like the producer, took one looking for a strike, and when the word came down that Ballard was the piano player, he was called out looking. When The World Ends, conversely, was a bit more positively received then the other two songs known at that time. But more than one fan from the greater Charlottesville area posting on message boards (especially Nancies board) thought there was something else going on. The “P” word was bandied about. Plagiarism is a serious charge anywhere, especially in music, and some fans from around C’ville thought that WTWE was a bit to close to a song with a similar refrain from a local C’ville band (with the chorus ‘When The World Ends’ repeating, and situations mentioned, similar to the DMB song). But the idea of the world ending isn’t exactly the ‘new orange’ in songwriting, and given Dave’s mention of inspiration for some songs (21), it seems happenstance. But two artists from the same town using the same lyrics, especially when one was in a ‘funk’, rubbed some the wrong way.
Fans found a hidden clip. Fool To Think was labeled under the tag So Right on a live internet page (unlinked). This was the clip that cheered people up. The clip featured the opening 20 seconds or so of the song – prior to Dave’s singing. In that clip, every DMB member got a chance to shine. “See”, some said. “This (!!) is the song that sounds like the old DMB! There’s Boyd! There’s Roi!” Fool To Think gave the doubters hope the album would be a DMB sound minus the 3 songs we knew already heard. In fact, we were the fools that thought the DMB sound would be there.
Fool To Think’s chorus marked the end of that perceived DMB sound. Dave broke into what sounded like a bad Police song (Synchronicity III was the joke title for the song on-line). Fool To Think became the lie; the one track that gave you hope that the old DMB was still there, but it was all just a forced farce.
Dreams Of Our Fathers and Sleep To Dream Her also got clip status, but neither strengthened the case for Everyday. Dave performed solo at a few radio stations, and the audio got around quickly. Nothing new came of the pre-Everyday release performances, except some more bitter fans.
About a week before the February 27 release date, Everyday leaked to the mp3 world. The reaction was abysmal on the message boards. Who knows why it was leaked? Maybe it was to assure fans the songs weren’t that bad? Maybe it was a vindictive person on the inside who liked the dark stuff better? Maybe it was just some kid who had a father work for a radio station and lifted a copy? Why doesn’t matter, the results do. Before the album even hit stores, the DMB fan decided it sucked. Almost immediately (before the Everyday album came out), fans were already crying for the Lillywhite Sessions.
But as things happen, the album Everyday was a financial success (more on that later too). The album opened #1, selling over 732,000 copies it’s first week alone (22). It has sales of close to 3 million to the end of 2006; it also was the fastest seller to 2 million copies. It maintained selling power for almost half the year, with a strong performance by The Space Between on single charts. But let’s take a closer look at those stats. First, Everyday had the hype of being the album picked over the scrapped album (to the casual fan) and it was the first studio album since 1998 for the band (making it doubly anticipated). It also had that Space Between success, but the people who listen to The Space Between don’t buy future albums, go to shows, or care about anything else DMB related. [Sidebar: a friend’s wife had The Space Between on her Ipod in 2001. I asked her if she liked DMB. She replied, “no, I can’t stand them, but I like this song.” Jump ahead to 2006, my friend, his wife, and my wife and I are going to dinner. Crush is playing on my CD when we pick them up. She complains out loud, “turn that shit off”. That is the fan of Everyday]
Websites popped up with petitions calling for the C’ville sessions to be released. But another funny thing happened around this time; people mockingly made posts asserting the greatness of the Lillywhite Sessions album they had. People mentioned the great outro to JTR, The mystery song Build You A House, the jam before Grace Is Gone. The cry for clips – the ultimate proof – went unanswered.
In early March, a message board regular on Nancies announced that he had received a copy of a disc and didn’t know if it was legit (this was a big time for faking Lillywhite discs) (23). Two tracks he mentioned were JTR and Bartender, with Bartender sounding a bit different. After getting bombarded with emails and posts demanding he release what he had, he withdrew from the online community. Deus ex machina decided the fate of the Lillywhites.
In March 2001 (around the 15th), Craig Knapp, lead singer of the DMB cover band Ants Marching received a package in the mail (24). Inside contained a disc, labeled The Summer So Far. The nomenclature was a way Steve Lillywhite tracked various cuts of songs. Knapp listened to the disc and realized quickly that he had the Holy Grail of DMB – The Lillywhite sessions.
The person who sent the disc has a name. Tom Griffin is the mailer. His story reads like a spy novel. Griffin was a St. Bonaventure student at the time and offered Knapp a copy of the “Unreleased Everyday Sessions” – including 4 songs not played live. He received his copy from a ‘friend’ who had a ski house in Colorado. This friend was allowed to listen to the album by a member of DMB, who was at the ski house in the winter of 2000. While said member was out skiing, the disc was “liberated”, copied and returned to its resting place unbeknownst to the DMB member. The ‘friend’ then let Griffin listen after returning to college. Griffin then passed a copy along to Knapp, the lead singer of the cover band he saw in 2000, so Knapp could get down the new songs (so he says) (25). The DMB member has never been identified, but only one DMB member sells snowboards and snowboards himself, so draw your own conclusion as to who’s disc was lifted.
Knapp had what was believed at the time to be the 11th copy of the Summer So Far disc – his, Griffin’s, Griffin’s ‘ski-p-throat’, Lillywhite, Steve Harris, the engineer for the aborted sessions (and Busted Stuff producer), Bruce Flohr, the RCA A&R guy for the band, and the 5 DMB members. The disc was not a complete album. In reality, it represented a sort of ‘best of’ session songs. Lillywhite had the songs put on the disc that were either the best takes or his favorite takes. If you listen to the unmastered disc, the first 4 tracks are a bit lower in volume then the next track (JTR). The beginning of the recordings is material from later on in the session (maybe as late as early May). You’ll note that Grey Street’s chorus sounds almost like Dave is singing Grave Street, hinting that the version on the Lillywhite sessions might not be the ultimate session version.
Grace Is Gone begins with a half note stuck to the front of it. That is a lingering note from The Prelude a jam intro to the song that was left off The Lillywhite Sessions. Bartender through Raven appear to be from an earlier time in the sessions. The Monkey Man version on the Sessions may have been long scrapped by the end of the sessions in May. You’ll recall that it was being called Golden Monkey by March or April (26).
Knapp was in a dilemma: burn a copy of the disc or literally burn the copy of the disc? He posted on the ML that he had a copy, and didn’t know what to do. The advice was around 99% release it. Knapp had a sort-of relationship with Lillywhite, and Lillywhite was a fairly easy man to get a hold of, so he figured he’d just nip it in the bud and go to the producer himself.
This didn’t slow down the constant barrage of posts, emails, and phone calls (yes, phone calls!) Knapp received begging for its release. But Knapp made his intentions known on the ML; whatever Lillywhite says goes (27).
The extremely cordial email went out Friday, March 23, a few minutes before 1pm eastern.
• Hello Mr. Lillywhite,
I thank you in advance for taking the time to read this E-mail. I have unintentionally placed myself in a very precarious situation.
About a week ago, I received an E-mail from a DMB fan who claimed they had some unreleased material from the new Dave Matthews Band CD. He asked if I wanted a copy, and I said yes, thinking it was going to be acoustic takes from "Everyday." In any event, I received a package yesterday, and it was indeed the session that you and DMB recorded in Virginia.
I love it very much, excellent work. I am blessed to receive this gift.
My question for you is one of moral standards. I would really like to share these songs with the DMB trading community. However, I feel that if the Dave Matthews Band and Steve Lillywhite didn't release these songs, then what gives me that right? I don't want to respect the band, or yourself. I guess my question is simply this:
Am I disrespecting the Dave Matthews Band and Steve Lillywhite by making these songs available?
I would really appreciate a response when you get a chance.
Thank you so much for your time,
Craig Knapp (28)
Knapp posted the continuing conversation with Lillywhite, where verification by Lillywhite of the tracks was requested, and ultimately Lillywhite telling Knapp he’d get back to him after contacting DMB management (Lillywhite was in England at the time). Fans waited with bated breath for the response.
It arrived on that very same Friday. The reply was as follows:
• I was able to contact some people and we came to the conclusion that because of DMB's loyal fan base following, honesty and patronage towards the band over the years, releasing these tracks should be, let's say, sort of a treat to the trading community . . . keep in touch and enjoy. •
Lillywhite blessed them: Release the sessions!
Knapp quickly sent out a copy to a fellow ML’er, and had some lo-grade 96 kb mp3’s made. Those hit the internet and literally crashed message boards left and right. Within a few days, 128 kb mp3’s made it out, and by Tuesday of the following week, the shorten files (SHN’s) were out and about. One fan-hosted site had 70,000 hits in one day (29). Word went world-wide, the lost album is found, and it’s great!
One slight little detail; Steve Lillywhite did not bless the release. Because of the honesty of Knapp, he kept the rabid fan base abreast of his conversations, literally posting the entire emails online. What a fan did was cleverly change Lillywhite’s well known E-mail address from SILLYWHITE to S1LLYWHITE, replacing the I with a 1. In a quick glance you might not catch the “1”. Knapp didn’t until almost July of 2001 (30). Deus Ex Machina ruled all.
One more slight detail; remember that part above about there only being 11 copies of the demo entitled The Summer So Far? Well, that wasn’t accurate either. Even though people working on the album thought they kept a tight wrap on things, at least 4 other copies existed, and when the Knapp copy was released, fans who had copies (known commonly as Elite traders) leaked their copies too. Depending on who you got your copy from, you either have the Knapp copy of one of the others. In other words, the album would’ve made it out eventually (31).
Then there was that other demo. You know, the one the person from Nancies.org mentioned in a post there? The one that ‘insiders’ had mentioned in taunting posts on the message boards? Well, that was real too. It was a very early recording of the sessions. It read as the following:
Dave Matthews Band
The Story So Far -- Demo #2
(The Lillywhite Sessions)
Producer: Steve Lillywhite
Recorded: Winter 2000 - Summer 2000
Track Name Time
d1t01 Bartender 06:37.94
d1t02 JTR 07:52.70
d1t03 Busted Stuff 03:56.92
d1t04 Sweet Up & Down 04:32.58
d1t05 Diggin' a Ditch 04:15.09
d1t06 Build You a House 03:58.60
d1t07 Captain 05:38.37
d1t08 untitled jam 05:48.18
d1t09 Grace is Gone 07:33.00
d1 totals 50:13:4
You’ll note that whoever made the text file labeled it as ‘demo #2’, despite the fact that it comes from a time period around January-February 2000. It was the 2nd demo to leak – first in clips of the portions of the songs, and then fully. This leak came about after some traders were first able to pry the much requested song Build You A House from its hibernation (32). The track listed as ‘untitled jam’ was The Prelude. JTR is the most complete song on the demo; others (especially Busted Stuff) barely have lyrics. So in reality, you have this ‘demo #2’, and the Lillywhite Sessions, which were actually recorded at vastly different times. You could almost make the case that the 2 cd’s represent 3 different sessions.
As a matter of attempting to set the record straight, again the Lillywhite Sessions was not intended to be the released album. And not every song recorded was on the Summer So Far demo. As mentioned earlier, #40 was recorded but not put on the demo, nor was The Prelude, two shells of songs (music but not lyrics), nor the last chance at #36 (33).
But no one cared that it wasn’t a complete album nor was it not even mixed properly, everyone loved it. And everyone loved it a lot more than Everyday. Every single publication (from Entertainment Weekly to Rolling Stone) that reviewed both Everyday and The Lillywhite Sessions scored the unmastered disc higher (34).
The fans now had two things to look forward to on the 2001 tour; the evolution of the Everyday songs (35), and the return of their beloved Lillywhite session songs. One of these came to fruition.
In hindsight, the Everyday songs never changed. #36 returned to its morphed Everyday as an outro (mainly through fan-driven chants), and the lyrics are quickly falling out of the song and more interpolations are entering (like 2006’s You Can’t Rollerskate In A Buffalo Herd by Roger Miller), but those mark the only substantial change to the songs from the album. What You Are got a F-bomb, and a new lyric (it’s a puzzle…), but the song also infamously received an intro that became longer than the song. Angel, much to the chagrin of fans (it is widely considered the worst DMB song ever), got a long jam and a chorus from the Lovely Ladies guesting live that made even the biggest Everyday apologist quiver. In 2006, If I Had It All got a new outro – too little too late. To the vast majority of fans, a song from Everyday heard live is merely a ‘pee break’.
In 2001, fans brought signs for Big Eyed Fish. BEF was arguably the most polished song on the Lillywhite Sessions recordings. With its powerful verse, haunting melody, and crescendo build, it was hard to deny its greatness. This wasn’t just a few fans either, there were organized efforts to get the song played live. Fans with good ears could hear a few teases in the early 2001 shows. On 5.11.01, Dave struck a few chords (with Boyd), and simply stated into the live mic, “Story of a man.” He might as well yelled, “Free Beer!”. The fans got it. Later in the show, fans chanted so loudly for Big Eyed Fish, the encore was switched from I’ll Back You Up to Waste, in an effort to play a (slightly) louder song to drown out the chants. That tiny clip of “Story of a man” was on the internet that night of the show. Thread after thread talked up BEF. A few days later, the full song Big Eyed Fish made its live debut. The results were official: The power was with the people.
Big Eyed Fish signs begot Pig signs (and little plastic pigs), which begot Two Step chants, which begot Halloween chants, which begot The Last Stop chants. Fans literally felt as though they could manipulate the band to their liking.
The legacy of the Lillywhite Sessions is eternal. First, the fans thirst for everything DMB cannot be quenched. The ‘2nd’ Lillywhite demo made it out, leaking the desired Build You A House. The demo version of Cigarette Lit, a scrapped song from Dave’s solo album Some Devil, also made it into fans hands. The reworked Hold Me Down was said to be saved for a full-band release, but if it happens, it’ll always be compared to the first recorded version. As Carter noted about the problem with people hearing the Lillywhite tracks, “the whole element of surprise is gone.” (36) Who knows what will next surface, but something will.
Speaking of Dave’s solo album, that spawned from Everyday. That album gave Dave the confidence to do more in his song-writing (37). You could say that some of his best song-writing came from those sessions (sans You Never Know) in this decade, which some felt could’ve been better saved for a DMB album (38). Boyd also did a solo album. Stefan worked on tracks in various studios, with the potential to release them (he has not yet). Carter and Butch were always working on tracks together, but the thought was they too would go the solo album route (39).
Another blow was on tour. Gone were the stadiums of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Three shows at Giants Stadium became Two at MSG. The free Central Park show drew about as many as 3 shows at Giants (40). Even though Everyday was a financial success, as stated previously, it didn’t draw in the ‘concert-going’ crowd, and ran off just enough fans from that very cynical college-listener crowd. They say you listen to the same music for life that you listened to in college. There was enough of a swing to lower the size of venues. Don’t get it wrong that DMB doesn’t still pack ‘em in, and are still very popular, but this is not the height of their popularity.
Even albums are no longer without criticism. Sure, fans always had their likes and dislikes on even the hallowed Before These Crowded Streets, but since the Lillywhite Sessions, one could argue that the majority of fans have disliked rather than liked the studio work. Busted Stuff never had a chance to live up to the hallowed Lillywhites, despite the more polished lyrics and improved sound. The greatest sin of Busted Stuff may have been the change in the formerly beloved Big Eyed Fish. It went from haunting melody to glorified intro. No one brings BEF signs to shows anymore. Stand Up was seen as a change in a good way (as opposed to Everyday), but still roundly criticized. The Stand Up songs evolved in a way that the Everyday songs never did, yet it still doesn’t seem good enough to fans.
Ah yes, the fans. We, the fan, feel we can still control the show. Practically every show contains some organized chant for a song. Sure you can find any show from 93-99 with some fan screaming “Watchtower!!! But it was never as organized as it was during the 06 tour. Additionally, 2006 was the high point for complaining about setlists. It didn’t matter that some great older songs (Lillywhite Session alums too) returned, every show that didn’t contain Last Stop, Two Step, and a Guitar solo from Jimi Hendrix corpse was disappointing. This led to Stefan even commenting on the reverb on his My Space page.
The perfect storm of events in this decade led DMB, and its fans to where we are today. If we armchair quarterback the whole Lillywhite Sessions incident, we can make hindsight decisions: Yes, scrapping the album was a good thing – the band was at an impasse and probably would not have survived 2001. No Everyday was not the answer – it alienated fans and even the band to an extent (41). Yes, the leak was good for the community and the band – the songs got a new life after March of ’01. No, it was bad for the power the fans perceive they have – ultimately the band has to make music and fans either accept it or move on, not to mold it into something they want.
Can anything be done to change where we are now? No. The fan felt power won’t leave. From “woo’s” to chants, to complaints, the fan feels obligated to get what they want. That’s a double-edged sword; fan interaction is probably why DMB is where they are today, but it’s the inmates running the asylum mentality that is dangerous. DMB can’t change – the sins of the past are hard to forget. It used to be, “This thick confusion grows…”, now it’s “Don’t hide away, like an ocean…” Fickle fuddled words confusing indeed. Even the bands natural progression is questioned (see Stand Up). What sound do fans want? What sounds will DMB make?
The Dave Matthews Band will continue to mature, musically and lyrically. That’s a very good thing. The sound in 2006 was fantastic, with the introduction of new instruments, new players, and new ideas. Lyrically, they resembled a pre-2001 rather than a post-2001. But in the back of fans minds (some in the forefront), and probably the bands minds as well, lingers the Lillywhite-Everyday-Busted Stuff run. Will anyone get back to enjoying themselves? The band will get there (they probably have judging by the great time they seemed to have on tour in 2006), but there are still fans who are lost in the dreams of their fathers.
The notes can be found here.
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