Name: Hannah Kirkell
Twitter Handle: @h_kirk6
Current Favorite DMB Song: You Never Know
Current Favorite DMB Lyric: "Take what you can from your dreams, make them as real as anything."
Song(s) referenced in your post: Ants Marching, Tripping Billies, If I Had It All, Grace is Gone, Pig
I can remember the first time I heard a Dave Matthews Band song so vividly, it's almost as if I'm transported back to that exact moment. I can feel how hot the room was, smell the cheap apple air freshener, and hear the opening crackling out from the twin speakers. I was fifteen, and sitting in creative writing class, bored out of my head. The class was supposed to be doing some sort of quiet seat work, but on the day in question, I was more interested in staring out the window at the empty varsity soccer field.
I didn't care for the jam band music that the teacher typically played during seat work: Phish, Counting Crows, and, if I remember correctly, Jackson Browne. I typically tuned it out, or opted to stick in earbuds. On this particular day, however, I was out of it. My eyes were unfocused, and there was nothing on my mind except for a repeated internal prayer for the day— and, of course, the school year— to come to an end.
And then it happened. From the speakers, I heard three lone hits to the snare drum, and then the intro that snapped me out of my zombie-like trance. I'm not sure what it was about that progression that broke through to me, I just knew it was going to be special. And it was. I began to realize that the lyrics— which, at first, seemed so harmless and fun— were describing a life that was a little too routine, too scheduled, too monotonous. As a high school freshman with very few friends, a nonexistent social life, and virtually nothing that varied from day to day, that hit home. Those four minutes and thirty one seconds awakened something in me... and then, the bell rang, signaling the end of class. In the chaos and panic that came with getting from one end of the school to the other in under three minutes, I forgot all about the magical little song with the metaphor about ants.
That is, I forgot all about its existence until nearly two years down the line, when I heard that very same intro while driving to work and listening to the local alternative radio station. I recognized it the moment I heard the first hit of the snare drum. I turned into the first available parking lot, and searched for the song on Amazon music. As soon as I found it, I added Ants Marching to my playlist. A few days passed before I actually got the chance to listen to it again— such is life for a high school junior with AP classes and limited data— but when I started, it was like I couldn't stop.
I'm a creature of habit. Always have been. To say that branching out from the first song was a challenge would be an understatement, but eventually, I convinced myself to try. It was about 11:30 PM on a Sunday night when I started listening; and, since the shuffled list never produced a song I didn't like, I didn't stop until I happened to glance at the clock and notice that it was 2:17 AM, Monday morning. By that point, my newly created Dave Matthews Band playlist consisted of almost twenty songs, ranging from Tripping Billies to If I Had It All to Grace is Gone.
My favorite out of the new batch was Pig. I only mention this because a few mere months later, I found myself at my first Dave Matthews Band concert, just over two years after I heard Ants for the first time. They opened with Pig, my favorite at the time, and closed out the encore with Ants Marching, the song that had started it all. It was like I had gone full circle.