Top 50: 10-1
In March 1992, during a break from performing, Dave wrote some new songs. It was during this time that he played a gig with Greg Howard, and tried out a new song he wrote. It was short, barely over 2 minutes, and he entitled it Peanuts. It would be almost 8 months later before it stretched over the four minute mark. Presently, the modern-day performance of Lie In Our Graves (a bit more telling title) is in the 10-13 minute mark, and one of the staple jam songs. Fans from all stretches placed it consistently high in their rankings.
The song is one of the earliest Dave wrote, back at a time when he thought there were seven oceans. But it wasnít really Dave who is topographically challenged; the song is based on a Robert Dederick poem, A Prayer In The Pentagon, which also alludes to bodies of water (but calls em ďseasĒ). Fans were willing to give Dave a pass on that, because it has been adored by fans since its very first play, which happened to be the first DMB song ever played live (3.14.91). The song has gone through some morphs in the later 2000ís, including a fix on the ďseven oceansĒ lyric by Dave. The song placed on almost every ballot, including a few top 5ís. However, it is the first of two songs in the top 10 to not receive a single first place vote.
The least performed top 10 song, through 2010 the song just barely eclipsed the 150 mark in plays. Pig has always been a strong favorite among both message board and casual fans, but seemingly fell out of favor with the band in 2000. It was then that fans stretched their muscles, and on 7.7.01 bombarded the band with Pig signs, chants, and little plastic pigs. Despite what the in-ear-monitor recording captured, Dave did indeed play the song again, and once again Pig was beloved. The song originated with the same guitar riff (in a different time signature) as a song called Donít Burn The Pig, but morphed into its present form during the Before These Crowded Streets sessions. Pig is the second of two songs to not receive a single #1 vote yet still make the top 10.
Dave conceived the song Dancing Nancies while on a trip to Zimbabwe, where he wasÖ wait for itÖ lost. Makes perfect sense. Of course, the transvestite-prostitute thing was just a bit of artistic flair, but that never slowed down fans from loving the song. Itís been a favorite since 1991, and fans continue to enjoy it live. Interestingly, the song was so popular in its early days that it was one of the early repeat songs in live shows, it was common to hear Dave do a solo version of it (which he sometimes referred to as Dancing Nancies 2) and then have the full-band play it later in the show. Nancies continues to get fans off their feet.
The song is a staple as a set closer, or encore closer nowadays, but Two Step has filled about every slot imaginable in live shows. Itís opened, been a set II opener, and a mid-show pace changer. The song went through numerous lyric changes prior to its appearance on Crash, and has pretty-much settled on lyrics since, with the occasional Dave-alteration. Two Step is also a song thatís known to get a chant or two (Looking at you, SPAC-fan), but that hasnít soured the band from playing it.
When you think Epic DMB song, Seek Up is usually the song that comes to mind. If you hear a 12 minute version, youíve heard a quick one. But itís the pace of the song that has fans forgetting how long its been going. The song builds until an explosion of lyrics, and then electrifies the crowd with deep, rich lyrics. It is seemingly the one jam-song that fans want to hear every night, at risk of losing out on some other shorter songs. Itís worth it to hear Seek Up live.
Thereís probably some moaning on this. ďHow can Ants Marching be ranked so low? Itís their signature song!Ē Think of it like this; itís one of their best known songs, yet hard-core fans still love it. And for a song thatís been played over 1000 times, itís still being altered by the band. In 2008, the boys whipped up a new intro, and in past years, theyíve dropped the drum intro, and extended the outro. Not too many bands would mess with their signature song like that. Itís also probably the best example of Dave re-writing a song. It began as a tune called No New Directions, but Dave rewrote it into what we now know. Ants Marching appeared on every ballot turned in, itís that beloved by all.
The music alone is so good that the band played Warehouse for almost a year without any set lyrics. At one point in 1991, Dave sang about ďDried up chickenĒ in the lyrics. The final lyrics, the same ones we have now, were set in February 1992, and fans have been singing along ever since. Warehouse has worn a few different intros (the famous, or infamous ďwooísĒ intro dominated the mid 90ís through 2000ís), and has alternated outros as well. But itís those lyrics, those deep, thought provoking lyrics, that keep the fans loving it. The song has inspired the bandís official fan-club name, and caused fans to stand in front of a pink building in the Historic Downtown of Charlottesville just to get a picture in front of it. Warehouse also placed on every ballot.
#41 received more first-place votes than any other song. So how is it not #1? Quite simply, two people completely left the song off their ballots. How can this be? Well, believe it or not, there is a minority of fans who simply do not like #41. Yes, itís true. No, really. ďit is too long, it has a meandering ramble of a jam,Ē wrote one fan. ď2000 with the everyday intro (sic)Ē. Another commented, ďI actively dislike #41, have since I started seeing shows. Just something about it that sits wrong with me.Ē To other fans (the majority of us), itís a defining song for DMB. How many songs can you name without a chorus? Yet every fan (wellÖ except two that we know of) are singing along with every word. The song is so personal, so deep, and yet with those hidden biblical overtones that so many of Daveís songs contain yet pass by the average fan (see Luke 10: 25-37). #41 is a beast. There have been 6 minute versions, and 32 minute versions. It is also the only non-single performed by DMB on a late night TV show (replacing Tripping Billies in 1996 on Letterman). Itís probably best summed up as those who love it, really love it, and those who donít, really hate it.
No Song placed in the top 5 like The Stone. Half the ballots put it in the top 5 overall. And all walks of life love it; men, women, internet fan, and non-internet fan. Itís almost incredible to believe, but The Stone was by far the most detested song from Before These Crowded Streets among the ďhardcoreĒ fans of 1998. They were the ones complaining that DMBís sound had altered too drastically, and wagged a finger in the direction of The Stone. Those who left were replaced by fans who appreciated the scope of the song. Even today, there remains a debate on exactly what the song is about (the prevailing thought is that itís told through the mind of Judas right after he turned Jesus into the authorities). Regardless of the true meaning, the heavy, deep tone, in both music and lyrics, haunts DMB fans, and leaves them awed by its awesome power live. Itís a beast live, and consistently the one song that fans mention that they want to hear. It has a bit over 300 plays since 1998 through 2010, and its placement in shows lately has been more of a treat for fans; it hasnít been in heavy rotation since 2005. But no one soured on The Stone during its lull; DMB fans love it. Itís #1.
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