Tag Archives: Ants Marching

Under the Table and Dreaming, Part VII: Ants Marching

Ahhh… we meet “Ants Marching” again. This time, however, it’s the studio version of the song. I will try to avoid repeating myself as much as possible with the background of the song itself, and try and stick to the review of the song itself.

As I’ve said before, “Ants Marching” is probably the most known DMB song there is. If you ask anyone you know if they know a song by the Dave Matthews Band, chances are this is one of them. I actually have a theory that if someone only has 5 songs on their iPod by DMB, those songs are usually: “Ants Marching,” “Crash Into Me,” “The Space Between” (especially if it’s a girl), “Two Step,” and “Stay (Wasting Time).” Now… this is obviously subject to change, but more often than not, that’s the 5. It has proven true for me on several occasions. “Everyday” is often the alternate song if one of those isn’t there.

Ants Marching also has the most plays of any song by the band… especially in encores. It has been played 1,064 times (approximately)… which says a lot. Granted, being one of the first songs in the band’s arsenal means it will have play time throughout the entire run of the band, but that’s besides the point.

The studio version of this song is quite similar to the live versions, including the one I’ve already done a review on. This version does not have the extended snare-hit intro through, it just has three snare hits. It starts with just Boyd and LeRoi playing along side Carter, until the guitars kick in. Once Dave kicks it into the first verse, game over.

As the essential anthem of the Dave Matthews Band, the lyrics are obviously rather uplifting, fun, exciting, etc. It’s all about our daily routine and how everything we do… no matter what we do… in the end we’re all basically the same.

One of my favorite parts of this song is the solo. This is the song Boyd tears up the most. In the studio version (and earlier live versions), he gets a 7-count solo. By that I mean once he’s in the solo, Carter and the boys have a combined note, and then pause for 3 counts. So essentially (if you’re a musician) it is a 28-count solo, but who’s counting. But in live versions, there is a much longer solo. I can’t really explain it, so I’ll save it for the live clip I will inevitably post later in this review.

The last thing I’m going to mention before we get to the clips is this song at concerts. As I said, it’s definitely a crowd favorite, if not one of the biggest, most unanimous crowd pleasers. Almost every single person at the concert knows this song (I’d say this is the only song that garners the most recognition), so they all sing along. There’s one line that most of the time, Dave let’s the crowd sing on. It comes during the first time we hear the chorus:

Dave: “Driving in on this highway. All the cars end up on the sidewalk.”

Crowd: “PEOPLE IN EVERY DIRECTION!”

DMB: Continues music between pause…

Crowd: “NO WORDS EXCHANGED, NO TIME TO EXCHANGE!”

It’s just so much fun to do. Gotta love it. Alright… without further adieu. The first video is the music video for “Ants Marching.” Very interesting (as are all the DMB music videos). Enjoy.

Next we have the live version of “Ants Marching” from, where else, Central Park. I will say this every time I mention this concert, it is one of my absolute favorites. The music is just so good, the band sounds great, the crowd is awesome, and the video to go along with it is icing on the cake. Enjoy.

Even though I’m not usually as high on studio versions as I am their live counterparts, “Ants Marching” has a hard time disappointing in any format. It’s an enjoyable song, a DMB essential and just an all-around great song. The music is fantastic, the lyrics are great. What else could you want?

Song Rating: 5/5

Next Song: “Lover Lay Down”

Remember Two Things, Part I: Ants Marching

28 snare hits.

That’s how the first song of the first album ever released by the Dave Matthews Band starts.

For those somewhat familiar with DMB’s live material, every live performance of “Ants Marching” starts with snare hits from drummer Carter Beauford, and then the intro picks up with Boyd Tinsley on the violin and LeRoi Moore on the sax. But on Remember Two Things, it takes 28 hits until Carter counts in and you hear the violin and sax take over.

(Due to this song being a live version, and appearing on another album, I will not be listing lyrics/meaning/versions, etc)

Total Play Count: 1,078

Album Ranking: 1/10

If you compare this song to any of the live versions of “Ants Marching” post-1999, you can tell how different they are. One of the refreshing things about this song after listening to newer versions is the simple nature of it. The violin is basic in the intro. The saxophone is so smooth and the little melodies LeRoi puts in his part is exactly what made him one of the best jazz musicians around. Even though LeRoi Moore was more of a reserved performer, didn’t go for the crazy solos or the spotlight to be on him often, but he could blow you away with the things he could do with the saxophone. This song is one of my favorites to just close my eyes and listen to what LeRoi can do in the first 2 minutes of the song. It doesn’t seem like much at first, but it certainly is genius.

Once Dave’s voice comes in, you can tell this is definitely an earlier work. Dave was never the first to get up on stage and sing, and was always more reluctant to do so. In this version of the song you can sense that unfamiliarity in his voice. Also, his voice is still quite high and he can still hit some falsettos, which isn’t much in his range in the late 2000’s.

With this version of “Ants Marching,” you really get the basics of the song. When we get to Under the Table and Dreaming, which is the next album up for review, we will have the studio version of the song to compare this to. However, as the song matures and progresses with the band, the experience and the inventions of different aspects of the songs come with that.

Another thing about this song that I noticed while listening to it is that it has a much slower tempo than what it will later become. As one of the first performances of this song, it’s cool to listen to where the song started. Each piece of this song, the violin, the saxophone, the main guitar, the bass guitar and of course the drums, each comes through in this version. The underlying violin part comes through nicely under Dave’s voice. Carter’s drums keep the steady pace throughout the song, along with Stefan’s bass part.

The main thing that I take away from this song, which I’ve said about five times now, is how simplistic this version is, and how it shows where the song originated and how much it has evolved from.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Up next: “Tripping Billies”