Lillywhite Eh? Um....
By Jake Vigliotti
You know what was the second most commonly overused phrase at ESPN back in the 1990’s? “Chill Squirrel”. The etymology probably has something to do with the antsy behavior of squirrels, always fidgeting around, you get the picture.
You know the most commonly overused phrase at ESPN back in the 1990’s? “Tremendous.” What does that have to do with the Dave Matthews Band and Steve Lillywhite? Everyone already is judging this “album” as Tremendous, when they should just sit back, and, well, “chill, squirrel.”
You just knew the second that Steve Lillywhite’s name was mentioned, there would be a movement that the band would return to their 1990’s sound. The reality is that a rehash of earlier stuff is pretty unlikely. Most bands evolve; The Bee Gee’s went from folk to disco, Billy Joel – hard rock to piano rock, Ice-T – singing about killing cops to playing cops on TV. So to presume the band’s sound will retrocede is unlikely.
There is also this notion that Dave has written his best stuff with Lillywhite. I’m not about to sell short Steve Lillywhite as a producer; the man produced Big Country after all (and they are awesome!), but let’s not forget that DMB had 36 songs prior to entering the studio to record Under The Table And Dreaming; and exactly zero songs were written with Steve during that first epic album.
No guarantee of a return to an earlier sound, and no guarantee that the songs will be written in a style that sounds “early”. What does that do? It puts expectations higher than Woody Harrelson at Bonnaroo. And that’s simply not fair. The on-line crowd has been particularly harsh with some of the newer songs (why, I have no idea…), and I’m telling you right now that Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King was a damn good album. Spare me the “overplayed” angle; Ants Marching closed practically every 1997 set, yet all I hear is “release more 1997 shows!” They’re all the freaking same! Don’t just hate something because it’s new.
This may come to a shock to some of you – I hope you’re sitting down – but Before These Crowded Streets was not well-received by the on-line crowd. You know which song got bagged on the most on-line? The Stone. The Same Stone that was voted #1 by fans as the best DMB song of all-time . History tells us that mob mentality on-line is not the greatest judge of songs.
The hype for this album has already exceeded everything in the past; and short of Jimi Hendrix corpse playing a solo, the bar is set so high by fans that it’s next to impossible to live up to it. Sure, it’s fine and fun to think of what greatness can come about, but, please, people, let this play out for a bit and give the record a chance when it comes out. Don’t knee-jerk it (which sounds a lot dirtier than it really is); don’t get ticked when Shotgun isn’t on there, don’t second guess why the album was produced in a certain way when, after-all, the deity that is Steve Lillywhite produced it. And most of all, don’t take every single tid-bit of news like it’s some complex Dan Brown story that leads to an outlandish ending. People were ready to jump off of roofs just because Lillywhite was still in New York on January 2. None of you know the recording schedule (well, some of you do), so just let it play out.
And I didn't even mention that little incident back in 2000. And the studio sessions of 2004, 2006, and 2007. So just chill, squirrel. Good things come to those who wait.
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