In my opinion, “Let You Down” is one of the first truly emotional, deep songs that the Dave Matthews Band released on an album. It’s simplicity is equaled by its moving lyrics. In terms of underrated songs, this ranks up there.
Song Meaning: Plainly, it’s a song about asking for forgiveness, and feeling remorse and sorrow.
Total Play Count: 34 (as rare as they come)
Album Ranking: 7/12
As you can tell by the total play count, and the older live version of “Let You Down,” it’s a pretty rare song. DMB almost never plays it live. The last time it made a full appearance was during the 1997 tour… which was to promote Crash. After listening to it, though, you might be able to understand why it’s not necessarily a live-friendly song.
The first thing we here is some hauntingly beautiful guitar strumming, accompanied by what sounds like bongos and a triangle. There isn’t much to this song, instrument-wise. I don’t think it should be any other way, though. This is a bare song, with raw lyrics and a pure feel to it.
While he sings, Dave voice sounds smooth and reassuring, and you really do get the feeling that he is trying to convince the listener to forgive him, forget his missteps. By far, the most powerful line in this song is in the chorus.
I have no lid upon my head
But if I did…
You could look inside and see what’s on my mind.
Clearly, from the title, you can tell the song is about letting someone down, and now asking for forgiveness, which is evident from the lyrics. Dave reiterates how he’s a “puppy for your love,” which a lot of us can relate to. If you are, or have ever been, in love, you know the feeling of being a “puppy for love,” and wanting to receive forgiveness from someone for something.
Towards the end of the song, after Dave finishes his singing, you here some light whistling, which I think is another very moving part of this song. It’s almost like the song is a journey (most are), that takes you through a making-up process between two people. Right off the bat, Dave says “I let you down.” From there, he continues to kind of explain himself, and continues to repeat himself. In real life, that’s how getting over a fight works. You beg for forgiveness, keep saying how dumb you are, etc.
When we get to the end of the song, the whistling begins, which could signify that things are starting to turn for the singer, and maybe he has been forgiven. I really love how the simple saxophone part only comes in at the end, to accompany the whistling. Truly a well-crafted song.
The reason this song is so underrated, is the fact that it is never played live. Then again, it would be hard to continually play this in a live setting. The band does often play slower, more thoughtful songs, but this wouldn’t work.
An acoustic setting is much more fitting for this. As you can see from the video above, it has been played before. This video is from The Lost Acoustics, which is an unreleased collection of Dave and Tim songs from a number of acoustic performances. You can find it among the DMB blogosphere, and it’s totally worth it.
This is such a beautiful song, and you can really get lost in the story and mood of the music and lyrics. I hope you enjoy listening to it, and definitely check out the acoustic version.
Song Rating: 4/5
Next Song: “Lie in Our Graves”