A friend implored me to “do this song justice” because he loves it so much. Here goes nothing…
“Say Goodbye” was a song that took a while for me to really enjoy. Not because it needed to grow on me, but because I needed to grow on it (follow me here). When I first began my DMB following (2003), I was just starting High School (yes, I’m pretty young). I didn’t fully engulf myself in the band for another year and a half or so (it’s definitely a process with these guys), and then… it took a little longer to really understand/appreciate every aspect of their work. With “Say Goodbye,” it’s a very… mature song… for lack of better words.
From the outside looking in (as a fan or as a teenager in general), this song is just fun to listen to. Once again, I am going to try to base everything off the studio version, even though the live version (and acoustic for that matter) rock. Upon further listen… and an older age… this song takes on a different meaning. Even if you knew what it meant at a young age, there’s still some maturity needed to enjoy/appreciate the song. Let’s just get into it already…
Song Meaning: As “AntsMarching.org” so simply puts it (and as is evident by reading through the lyrics), “Say Goodbye” is about a one-night stand.
Studio Version (I like the versions with the lyrics on them already):
Total Play Count: 392
Album Ranking: 6/12
First things first… watch/listen to the first video. Do it while you read the rest of this post… that’s cool too. Then, if you like the song, listen to the other two versions. It’s pretty cool, because I was at the live version. Someone recorded the shows (with decent quality, might I add), and it gives a very updated version of how the song sounds live. Plus, I was there, so that’s cool too. Finally, the acoustic version is from one of the best acoustic albums ever (Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds: Live at Luther College), which is a must-own as a DMB/Dave Matthews/Music fan.
One of the harder things to get by with this song, especially so early, is the extended intro. It has it on the studio version, and it has it live. On Crash, it’s started with some cool drumming by Carter, and some very elegant flute-playing (fluting? floutistry?) by LeRoi Moore. I believe it’s on the penny-whistle, but am probably wrong. It almost sounds like Carter is playing some bongos or something, but no… they’re his amazing drums (trust me, it’s WAY more impressive live). But about that flute. Correct me if I’m wrong, but elegant does seem to be the best choice of words for it. Roi just cruises through his solo, taking you from point A to point B, and you don’t even realize it. What a talent we are missing.
In case you’re wondering, the singing starts at the 1:30 mark. I don’t think I need to reiterate the fact that this song is about a one-night stand. If you read the lyrics, you know. If you have ears and listened to the song, you know. However, Dave does a nice job to match the music and mood of the song, with the… “mood” of a one-night stand (or at least the thought of one). The song is somewhat playful, not too overpowering, and is really smooth. I would hedge a bet that a good number of people have used this song to… get in the mood.
What I really like is how the song doesn’t move far from its base. It’s a light, airy, smooth, playful song. When it gets to the chorus, Dave does raise his voice a little, throw some passion in there. But aside from some cymbal crashes leading into the chorus, everything stays the same. You can hear Boyd on the violin, and then LeRoi throws in some more beautiful flute parts.
In either version (studio or live, but live way way more), my favorite part is the end (around the 5:00 mark) where Dave really belts out the lyrics. Especially the line, “just for tonight, one night, I love you.” Although the “I love you,” sounds more like, “love yeahhhhhhhh,” and it’s awesome.
So while the song is pretty playful and fun… it does have a major climax at the end (pun definitely intended). A finish to a song… only suited for a song about sex. If you think back through the song… it is a lot like a sexual interaction. Builds up slowly, it’s playful yet smooth. Then it has one big climax at the end (ok, it’s starting to sound a little weird… I’ll stop). Well done, Dave Matthews Band.
Now, don’t take my “Album Ranking” as a sign that I don’t like this song. You have to remember, this is one of the band’s top 4 albums ever. Crash is one of the “Big 3.” Until Big Whiskey and the Groo Grux King came along, all other albums paled in comparison to Under the Table and Dreaming, Crash and (what we will get to soon) Before These Crowded Streets. So 6 out of 12 on an amazing album… isn’t too bad.
Song Rating: 4.5/5
Next Song: “Drive In Drive Out”