A few nights ago, I had a dream that I actually remembered when I woke up the next morning. In the dream I was seated in the first row at a Dave Matthews Band concert.  It wasn’t a large venue–more like a high school gym setup, complete with bleachers.  Anyhoo, at some point, Mr. Matthews himself came right up to me and said into the microphone, “Sarah, come sing with me.” Even in my dream I was afflicted by stage fright, but I couldn’t pass up such an opportunity. I joined Dave and the other players on stage, and they all waited patiently as I decided which song we would sing. I settled on a duet of “9 Crimes,” which isn’t even a DMB song, but that’s besides the point… When I woke up in the morning, I was filled with warm feelings for Dave and his band–a group of musicians I hadn’t actively thought about for a long, long time…

As a youngster, my musical tastes were flailing and questionable, at best.  I came of age without the benefit of ex-hippie parents–many of my friends knew the songs of Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, etc., before we were even weaned off Sesame Street. But no, my parents were Yuppies, and if any music played over the rarely used stereo in our home, it was of the trendy-tip end of disco-pop variety: Donna Summers, Supertramp, Olivia Newton-John, Whitney Houston, etc. Clearly, my parents weren’t the best role models in the music department.

And I was dangerously close to falling prey to a complacent, pop music-fueled life. The New Kids on the Block were the center of my life as a first grader, and I LOVED Color Me Badd (that’s right, two d’s)–“I Wanna Sex You Up” was my 9-year-old anthem…I had no idea what the lyrics meant, and I think that’s why my parents put up with my coordinating, self-choreographed dances and ardent desires to grow up and become a Fly Girl. But looking back, it was certainly cause for concern. So it was other influences–specifically, my grade school chums–who introduced me to “higher” forms of musical expression, most notably of which was the Dave Matthews Band.

I used to LOVE me some Dave. I started listening to DMB in the fifth grade, and I was a loyal fan through high school–I bought every album, memorized the words to every song (including the different vocal intonations in the many live album versions), knew the name, instrument, and abilities of each band member, and in so doing, I unwittingly nurtured my first, official, Big Crush.

10031070Oh, Dave. You’re so talented. I’m not entirely sure what “five-fret-finger-span” means, but you have it, and therefore it must be special. Also, it sounds mildly sexual.  I don’t really have anyone to compare you to, but I KNOW you are an excellent guitar player. You write songs about love and life and war and politics–MAJOR stuff. I want to be the girl you’re talking about in your songs: Jane, little thing, the girl you have a wild, romantic night with and then go back to just being friends, the one you’re bare boned and crazy for, imploring to lift up her skirt a little more…

Oh, did I love him. I don’t necessarily have a “type,” but ever since my introduction to Dave and his band, I’ve had a weakness for men with dark hair and subtly receding hairlines. I even got a charge out of his slightly odd, unabashed mid-guitar solo face.

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Dave Matthews was my sexual fantasty before I even knew what sex was. And as if that wasn’t enough reason to count myself as an adoring fan, I loved his music–loved his guitar work, his songwriting, and the skilled accompaniment each of his band members provided.  During high school, when the band would tour each summer, I would make sure to attend at least ONE concert as they made their way through Texas. Dave Matthews Band saved me from my parents’ influences–the path of Yup.  Of course, this isn’t to say that DMB didn’t end up catering to the masses, but my love of their music opened me up to new musical avenues, different genres that I wouldn’t have stumbled upon had I stuck with Whitney Houston and Genesis.

My musical tastes grew and changed, and eventually I outgrew my love of DMB (their sudden turn toward catering to the MTV “Total Request” crowd was the final nail in the coffin). But I retain a nostalgic fondness for Dave and his band, and will be forever grateful for their helpful influence in shedding light on my inborn love of music.

When I was in Las Vegas a couple months ago, I encountered a poster advertising DMB’s upcoming show.  The poster’s picture staged the usual band pose, but the image of Dave’s face shocked me and stopped me in my tracks.

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Dude. You’re lookin’ worn out. Please tell me that’s not coke bloat. I know you’re married and have kids now, but Jesus Christ…take a nap or something. I love you. I’m concerned.

My initial horror at Dave’s older, well-used visage slowly gave way to a gentle nostalgia. I may have stopped listening to him and his band several years back, but it’s good to know he keeps keepin’ on; he’s still out there, making music for the confused, wayward children of yuppies and other music-squelchers, opening up a world of live instruments and bonafide musicians, teaching the teenagers that sex appeal has more to do with talent and depth than six pack abs.

My “singing on stage with Dave” dream was the best dream I’ve had in ages. Sad, I know… But it reminded me of a time in my life when my love for music was first ignited, when I picked up a guitar with a “Hey, why not?” attitude instead of the “Yeah, I’ll probably suck at this too” mentality that I’ve acquired over the years. And so later that evening, I played an old, familiar album I haven’t listened to in years, and bobbed along in my living room as Dave and the band rocked out through my stereo speakers.

Oh, Dave. I loved you so.