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The Dreaming Tree Has Died

Name: Hannah Kirkell

Twitter Handle: @h_kirk6

Current Favorite DMB Song: She

Current Favorite DMB Lyric: “She gave it all she had, but treasures slowly faded.”

Song(s) referenced in your post: The Dreaming Tree, Crash Into Me, Pig, Bartender, Grace is Gone, Shotgun

The Dreaming Tree is one of my favorite Dave Matthews Band songs. It's well written, with bittersweet lyrics and a hauntingly beautiful melody. If I were to rank every Dave Matthews Band song, The Dreaming Tree would easily be in my top fifteen. That being said, I haven't listened to The Dreaming Tree in almost two years. It's obviously on my playlist, but every time it has come up in the shuffle rotation, I've skipped it.

I may like The Dreaming Tree, but my grandmother loved it. Well, that's what she told me, at least. She was one of those grandmothers who would let you play your music in the car, and politely say it was great, no matter what. I now realize that she didn't really care for the Dave Matthews Band-- probably because she was a devout Christian, and Dave isn't exactly subtle with his innuendos-- but at the time, I was blissfully unaware of social cues, and content to make her listen to most of their discography. Looking back, it was evident that she disliked what she heard-- and then she listened to The Dreaming Tree.

I don't know what she liked about it, probably because I didn't appreciate it at the time. Maybe it was the metaphor. Maybe it was the poetic lyrics. Maybe she was just relieved to hear a song that was not about a peeping Tom watching a woman undress through her window (I really did think Crash was a sweet love song!). Whatever the reason was, she liked it. Whenever I had AUX control, she would ask me to play "that song about the tree, the one with the long intro." She even went so far as to buy tickets for us to go and see them that upcoming summer.

And then she fell terminally ill. She had been sick for the good part of a year, but like most illnesses, it got really bad, really quickly. She spent her time either on my living room couch, or in various hospitals. About a week before the concert, she was checked into the ICU. She obviously wasn't able to attend, but requested that I video The Dreaming Tree if it was played. It wasn't. I always felt bad about that, as if I had something to do with it.

She passed shortly after. I didn't have any prior experience with death, other than a few pet fish. She was really the only family I had, so it was a bad time in my life. It was then that I really started listening to the lyrics of songs that I previously hadn't taken to heart: "time is short, time, that's alright, maybe I'll go out in the middle of the night" from Pig, "if I die before my time, oh sister of mine, please don't regret me if I die" from Bartender, "I woke with you beside me, your cold hand lay in mine" from Grace is Gone, and, naturally, the entirety of every single variation of Shotgun. And, of course, The Dreaming Tree.

I started to appreciate The Dreaming Tree much more. There was just something magnetic about it that grabbed ahold of my attention and refused to let me go. It was a song that I hadn't previously cared for all that much-- what seventeen year old wants to listen to a song about loss of childhood/innocence?-- but I found that because of recent developments, I could relate more than I would care to admit.

"She gave it all she had,

But treasures slowly faded.

Now she's falling hard,

She feels the fall of dark.

How did this fall apart?"

I practically listened to The Dreaming Tree nonstop for the few weeks leading up to my grandmother's funeral. It made me feel more connected to her. I even did one of those art pieces where you make a picture using words, and those words were The Dreaming Tree's lyrics. She was my dreaming tree: all the big events of my childhood were with or around her, she was my safe haven, and her death marked the end of my childhood. On the day of her funeral, I listened to it once, and swore I would never listen to it again. I kept that vow for one year, eight months, and twenty four days. I had planned on continuing my streak, but it popped up in my playlist shuffle today, and for some reason, I couldn't turn it off. I've been listening to it on repeat for the past three hours.

I almost forgot how beautiful (and heartbreaking!) this song is. It reminds me of easier times: riding shotgun in my grandmother's car, windows down and heading towards the beach. It reminds me of back before the pandemic, back before adulthood, back before the dreaming tree had died.

"Take me back..."

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