Tag Archives: Studio

Crash, Part X: Cry Freedom

“Cry Freedom” is one of the first true ballads the Dave Matthews Band ever really had. Even then, it’s not really a ballad. But to me, it’s the best way to classify it in terms of the band’s music. I’m going to tell you right off the bat, this is not one of my favorite songs. While I don’t ‘dislike’ “Cry Freedom,” and a certainly don’t hate it, it’s just not one of my favorites. We’ll leave it at that.

Lyrics.

Song Meaning: It’s about life in South Africa (where Dave originates from), during apartheid.

Studio Version:

Live Version:

Acoustic Version:

Total Play Count: 160

Album Ranking: 12/12

I take that back… “Cry Freedom” is totally a ballad.

I don’t know what it is about this song, but I am just not a huge fan. That being said, I still know all the lyrics, sing along with it every time it comes on my iPod/laptop/car, and know all the music to it. That’s the thing with the Dave Matthews Band, even songs I don’t really like all that much, I still like them. Let’s try to figure this out once and for all.

First things first… Dave’s voice. I don’t really like when Dave goes falsetto in songs. Just a personal preference. He can do it, he has the ability, I just don’t dig it. I prefer him belting out songs, screaming and really getting into the groove.

I also think this song is a little too long. I feel like it drags on just a bit, and could be cut about a minute shorter. Fortunately, the music really carries it, and keeps it going.

Speaking of the music, that’s what I really do enjoy about this song. It starts out a little slow, with just the strumming on guitar, and the light violin in the background. Then Carter comes in on the cymbals, to take the song into its first main verse. Throughout the verses, it’s very simple as well, which is required for a ballad like this. Once in the chorus, though the percussion amps up (with a little sleigh-bells in the background too, at least I think), and it is a solid chorus.

That’s the thing with ballads, though. They can’t have overpowering music or solos, which is the livelihood of 95% of DMB songs. Also, Crash is a more relaxed album. Yes, there are the mega-hits like “Two Step,” “Too Much,” and the upcoming “Tripping Billies.” However, those songs are much more powerful live. On this album (like most songs, really), they are more reserved. That’s exactly why “Cry Freedom” is the way it is, that’s the way the song works. Also, DMB shows a little versatility. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that.

The other main thing to not for “Cry Freedom,” is the lyrics. I would feel like I did a major injustice if I failed to mention the lyrics for this powerful (emotionally/lyrically) song. As I mentioned above, it’s about apartheid in South Africa. If you don’t know much about that, I strongly suggest reading up on it. This is a good start.

Dave Matthews has always done a very nice job of telling stories in songs, but also connecting them to things he believes (or doesn’t believe) in. He has and feels a strong connection to South Africa (rightfully so), and really shows it in his music. “Cry Freedom” only further exemplifies that, by writing such beautiful lyrics.

I strongly encourage you, if not with any other song but this one, to open up the lyrics and listen to the song at the same time. Preferably, after you read about apartheid. The message is very clear, we are all human, we all have hands and feel that are similar, yet other things tear us apart. He puts it much more eloquently than I, but you get the point.

If for nothing else, this song gets MAJOR brownie points for the lyrics and their message.

You know, after writing this review, I’ve come to really appreciate and enjoy this song much more than when I started, a whopping 30 minutes ago. My mind remains the same on the “album ranking,” because I think this is the 12th best song on Crash, however Crash is one of the best albums this band has released, so in essence “Cry Freedom” is still a great song. Clearly it doesn’t get played much live, and it is a much more “Dave and Tim” kind of song to be played than anything. That being said… I like “Cry Freedom” a little bit more after writing this.

Hopefully, someone out there (preferably someone reading this) is happy.

Song Rating: 3.5/5

Next Song: “Tripping Billies”

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Crash, Part IX: Lie in Our Graves

Say it’s April, and you’re getting ready to make your “Summer Mix Tape” CD (or iTunes playlist, for that matter). You want to compile some of the summer-y songs, that really embody the summer feeling (relaxation and fun). Well, my friends, look no further than “Lie in Our Graves.”

One of my favorite things to hear at a DMB concert on a warm summer night, is the opening chords to LIOG. Take a listen for yourself down below.

Lyrics.

Song Meaning: Living life to the fullest, and having no regrets when it’s all said and done.

Studio Version:

Live Version:

Acoustic Version (skip to :50, unless you want to hear Dave ramble about sunglasses):

Total Play Count: 692

Album Ranking: 4/12

Listen to the beginning of that live version (or the studio for that matter), and tell me that’s not a great summer song. Even if you haven’t heard the rest of it yet, it’s on its way to being a great song to listen to during the summer.

Now, let’s focus on the studio version (I promised I wouldn’t spend too much time on live versions). “Lie in Our Graves” starts off the same way on Crash, with those classic guitar chords. Dave strums his way through the song, not straying too far from that sound, which really holds the song together. As he strums, you can also hear Tim Reynolds (yes he’s on the album as well… most of them, in fact) backing him up. If you listen to the acoustic version above, it really stands out.

As for the rest of the band… they don’t come in until after Dave sings a few lines. Carter holds down the beat real well, with a killer sound on the snare. Then again, he kills ever song, so there should be much of a surprise here. I realized I don’t mention Stefan Lessard enough in this blog, but it’s because you can hardly ever detect his music. That’s a good thing, though, because it means his bass is right in line with Carter, keeping the beat of the song going along nicely. When we start dissecting some live albums, Stefan’s name will pop up more. For now… just follow him on twitter (@SLessard).

When it gets to the chorus, you can hear LeRoi with some notes underneath the music, and once it hits the first bridge… he really comes out. Some with Boyd on the violin. You can slightly hear it every now and then, but when they hit the little solo bridge, the two of them really pop.

Then, around the 2:19 mark is when LeRoi’s trademark part in this song comes in, followed by his beautiful, yet quick, solo (it’s a little longer in live versions). The band continues to jam away with the simple parts they’ve had. Boyd also gets a part in this solo, but once again they are more prominent in the live versions. On Crash, it’s more of a collective solo, where Boyd, LeRoi and Tim all take turns taking the lead.

If you think the “Lie in Our Graves” solo is pretty sweet on Crash, then you will really enjoy hearing the song live. The song usually last for a solid 10-12 minutes, including some killer (love that word to describe DMB) solos.

Around the 5 minute mark of the studio version… Dave comes back in with a scat-like reprise of the chorus, with some more solid solo-esque music backing him up.

Let’s touch on the lyrics for a second, before I wrap everything up. Hopefully, you’ve listened to at least the entire studio version by this point. If so, you will have heard all the lyrics, which are very easily understandable. It’s a fun, free song about having no inhibitions in your life, and not living with any regrets. Seriously… “would you not like to be, sitting on top of the world with your legs hanging free?” I would… because that means I have not a care in the world. Just read through the lyrics as you listen to the song, and take it all in. This is one of the beauties of the Dave Matthews Band, their music can inspire you to just live your life. That’s what music is all about.

Personal story here, one of my high school art classes (I want to say my junior year, but that’s not important), we had an assignment to make an anti-drug poster. We could put whatever we wanted on it, and it would say, “_________ is my anti-drug.” I chose the Dave Matthews Band. The irony… is that most DMB fans love drugs (weed especially), and Dave himself dabbled in quite a bit of drugs. Either way, that was my decision. Anyway… I drew a picture of Dave from the Central Park concert, and in the entire background, I stenciled in the lyrics to “Lie in Our Graves.” It took me about 3 weeks to get all the letters done, but it was worth it. I have the poster laminated and framed in my basement back home. Moral of the story, “Lie in Our Graves” has a positive meaning, even if you use a band that doesn’t hate drugs, as your anti-drug.

Song Rating: 5/5

Next Song: “Cry Freedom”

Crash, Part VIII: Let You Down

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.

Lyrics.

Song Meaning: Plainly, it’s a song about asking for forgiveness, and feeling remorse and sorrow.

Studio Version:

Live Version:

Acoustic Version:

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”

 

Crash, Part VI: Say Goodbye

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…

Lyrics.

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):

Live Version:

Acoustic Version:

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”

Crash, Part V: #41

This is a big day, and a big post, for me. It has to be fate. I could not have planned this better if I tried. I kid you not, this is exactly the 41st post of my blog. Coincidentally, “#41” is my favorite song, and was the 41st song written by the Dave Matthews Band. There is so much that is right about this, it’s not even funny.

Before I get started on gushing over this song, let me just mention that most DMB fans truly enjoy this song. Among the diehards, “#41” is one of the clear-cut favorites. I could hear this song at every concert, over and over. I just love it. That being said…

Lyrics.

Song Meaning: As mentioned in the link provided, “#41” was written with a lawsuit – involving a former manager, who encouraged Dave to start a band – in mind. As to not take up too much space here… Wikipedia does a nice job summing it up here.

Studio Version:

Live Version 1:

Live Version 2:

Total Play Count: 572

Album Ranking: 1/12

Where to begin, where to begin. First of all… when of the lines of the song, is the subtitle to this blog. I guess that’s a good place to start. I think this is easily the best song on Crash… and the best song in the entire DMB catalog. Once again, that’s just me. Moving on…

Any time I hear the rolls on the hi-hat… followed be a little kick-drum… followed by a saxophone slowly building up a crescendo into the beginning of the song… I get very happy. 

The saxophone in this song is just awesome. The older versions (studio, Live Version 1) really display the beauty and perfection that is LeRoi Moore. He nailed this part on the studio album, and really let it shine during every live performance. That’s one of the best things about LeRoi, whenever you heard him play live, you could just close your eyes and be transported. That’s why music is so powerful and amazing. Artists like the late Roi Moore can take you to a magical place, with the sounds they can create. I just love it.

In the more recent versions of the song (with Jeff Coffin and Tim Reynolds), the solos have a much more raw feel to them, in the best way possible. I’ll just leave it as that, seeing as how I’m only supposed to be focusing on the studio version.

Which, by the way, is extremely difficult when dealing with your favorite song, by your favorite band.

In terms of the lyrics, or at least the way Dave sings them… I love it. Once again, the older versions display Dave’s more matured voice, and feature more screams than falsetto. On the studio version of “#41,” Dave breaks out the high voice on certain parts, which doesn’t really bother me too much. I refuse to say anything bad about this song.

What’s unique about this song, is that the lyrics kind of just end. There’s no real chorus, or refrain, or anything. It’s basically just one big blob of lyrics, and that’s pretty awesome. You really have to think about it and break it down to realize there is no set chorus, no structure other than the music itself. After the final line is sung, the music continues, which is often followed by some solos.

What makes this song so great (and my favorite) is the emotion you feel from listening to it. You can’t clearly distinguish that it’s about a lawsuit with a former friend/manager. When you hear Dave sing, you just listen (or at least I do). You can close your eyes and just feel the emotion coming out of it. The words are written in a way that sort of mask the true meaning of the song. It has a playful feel to it, that keeps the listener from knowing that it’s about the heart-break felt from having a legal dispute with an old friend.

The blend this song has, compared to others, really sends it home. If you listen to an amazing live version (I wish I could think of one right off the top of my head, or after looking through my catalog for 20 minutes, but I can’t), you can feel Dave’s emotion as he sings, undercut by the amazing sax part for this song. That… paired with the soothing violin undertones, and the impeccable percussion/bass backups. It just makes for a fantastic musical voyage.

As always, I encourage you to do a little digging on all the songs I review, but especially “#41.” The reason I don’t make these posts longer, including all the history of the songs, when they were written, songs they’ve stemmed from, etc… is because other websites already do that. Other great websites, for that matter (DMB almanac, Ants Marching, etc.). Even Wikipedia has some great back-stories for these songs. If you’re really interested in learning more about the band, and its music, do some searching.

Now, if you’re going to listen to any song ever by the Dave Matthews Band, “#41,” would be one of my suggestions. If I had to choose one song to listen to the rest of my life, I would choose “#41.” That’s just me. Maybe you feel differently about this song. I don’t care. Maybe you like it, but don’t love it. I don’t care. I love this song more than any other song I’ve ever heard, and that’s that.

Song Rating: 10/5 (adjusted score: 5/5)

Next Song: it doesn’t matter, we just did the best (actual next song: “Say Goodbye”)

Crash, Part IV: Too Much

People often say too much of something is a bad thing. In the case of “Too Much,” that’s usually not the case. Personally, I went through a phase where I could have gone without the song, and it’s still not one of my favorites, but it’s definitely a great song to rock out to.

Lyrics.

Song Meaning – More, more, more. It’s all about excess… be it gluttony, greed, etc. There might be some suggestions of political and governmental greed/neglect as well. For more… follow the link.

Studio Version:

Live Version (actual song starts at 2:05):

Total Play Count: 676

Album Ranking: 8/12

As I’ve mentioned in the past, it’s hard for me to review/discuss songs without taking into account their place in live shows. My fondest memories of every DMB song (except the select few that have never/are practically never played live) come from a live version. I will continue, however, to try to do things the right way, and only use the studio version of the song for critiquing, and sprinkle in some live commentary along the way.

“Too Much” has always been a song I have struggled with. Some days, I like it. Other days, I don’t care too much for it. Then some other days, I really like it. It’s very strange, but also frustrating.

Technically… the song is fine. I love the style of music played along with it, the uptempo beat, the bass sax accompaniment. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s such a great song to rock out to (how much do I use that phrase? I feel like it’s a lot).

Everything gets started with the “dunn… dunnn… dunnnnn” that includes Carter, Roi, Boyd, Stefan and Dave (and whoever else is on stage with them in live settings). You can really hear all the instruments bang out those notes… and it really sets the table for the rest of the song.

One of the reasons I am harder on songs in the studio versions, is Dave’s voice. I don’t like when he falsetto’s too much, or when his voice was higher in general. Most of the earlier albums display his voice like that. Granted, “Too Much” has a full-range of his vocal abilities… but it starts off with a nice, “woooooo.” In any event, the lyrics are pretty simple, the meaning is blatant, and everything gels rather nicely.

My favorite part of the song, by far, is the sax. I have it memorized, and every time I listen to the song, I play along on with my mouth (no sexual jokes, please). It’s not a very long solo, but it’s definitely the stand-out part of the song… to me. It comes right after the second verse. You can hear the solo at the 1:32 mark in the video above. Love it.

After most of the singing is said and done… the band proceeds to “jam away, jam away” (that line is from one of the Live Trax albums. If you caught it, major kudos). Naturally, the jamming is extended in live versions, but the jam in the recorded version is nothing to scoff at. This particular extended solo is featured by Boyd (which is a common occurence, seeing as it’s easier for him to carry out a solo for longer periods of time than a single saxophonist, or a single guitarist [unless you’re awesome and named Tim Reynolds]). I can’t say I mind that too much. The more I listen to the band, and the older I get, the more I appreciate Boyd.

All in all, I like “Too Much.” It’s not one of my favorite songs. It’s not one of my least favorite songs. I enjoy it much more in a live setting (like the version above. I was at this concert, and it rocked.), especially when it’s in a series with “So Much to Say,” and the “Anyone Seen the Bridge” bridge that often connects the two. You can hear “ASTB” at the beginning of the video above. There are a lot of different versions of the bridge, but the core of it is in that video from the Mile High Music Festival.

In the end, “Too Much” got a middle-of-the-road ranking on the entire Crash album, mostly due to the higher-caliber songs I feel are on the record, and an above-average rating from me. If you strongly disagree, leave a comment. If you have any other feelings, feel free to do the same. Like they say, you can never have “Too Much” comments (alright, so that isn’t grammatically correct, but I had to make it work somehow).

Song Rating: 3.5/5

Next Song: #41

Crash, Part III: Crash Into Me

“Crash Into Me” is one of those songs I hate to love, but love to hate. Most DMB fans have their short-list of songs the detest, don’t want to hear, etc (usually “Angel,” “I Did It,” etc), and often times, “Crash Into Me” makes that list. That is, if you’re talking to a male fan. As for the female DMB related population, they love this song.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad song. I enjoy hearing it live, but if I had a choice of songs I wanted to hear, “Crash Into Me” might not make that list.

As far as popularity goes in the novice DMB crowds, this is right up there. I’d say it’s definitely one of, if not the, most widely popular song on Crash. So there is a lot to be said about that. I’m just trying to be honest with you, and tell you it appeals to a more female audience, and most hardcore fans could do without it.

That being said…

Lyrics.

Song Meaning: More or less, it’s about a perv. It’s clearly this dude being a creep, watching a girl through her window. Voyeurism at its finest.

Studio Version:

Live Version:

Total Play Count: 668

Album Ranking: 11/12

I’ve mentioned it before in this post, and I’ll say it again. I don’t hate this song.

That being said, it’s the 11th best song on Crash. To me! If you’re reading this, and you love “Crash Into Me” and you’re getting pissed right now, remember… it’s just my opinion. I don’t hate it, I could just do without it. That’s a big difference. When it’s on, I’ll listen to it, sing along, etc. Especially at concerts, where I will never complain about hearing a song for more than the first 30 seconds. Then I’ll stop bitching and start singing along.

Anyway… let’s get down to the basics here. Pretty simple musical accompaniment in this one. Carter plays some soft ride cymbal to start things off, then has a slow roll going on the snare.

Boyd pulls out a few long strides on his violin here and there, and the sax fills in nicely.

Other than that, it’s not that complicated on paper (unless you’re a musician, in which case you don’t count). But sometimes songs that are easy to figure out/interpret… don’t make bad songs.

While I only ranked “Crash Into Me” 11/12 on Crash, I really do enjoy the song when it’s played live. Throughout the years, Dave has injected the “Dixie Chicken” outro to the song.

I will be your Dixie Chicken

If you’ll be my Tennessee Lamb

And we can walk together

Down in Dixie Land.

That… along with the “I’m the king of the castle” makes for a solid way to end the song live, especially when Dave really gets into it.

That’s another side note. Any time Dave really gets into a song, screams, wails, or whatever… I think that song becomes at least 10 times better. It’s just a fact. Look it up.

Speaking of looking things up. I want you to go back to the video of the studio version of this song… and go to around the 30 second mark, and tell me Dave doesn’t look like Steve-O from Jackass. Just saying.

In the end… “Crash Into Me” is a good song. Nothing spectacular about it. If I don’t hear it at a concert, I wont be upset. If I do hear it at a concert, I will enjoy it, and then move on. That’s just the facts of life.

Song Rating: 3/5

Next Song: “Too Much”