Song: Grace is Gone
Artist: Dave Matthews Band
Album: Busted Stuff
I first saw Dave and the Boys on Saturday Night Live when the Under The Table and Dreaming album was released. On the stage stood this ragtag bunch of guys with no visible signs of pretention; everyone rocked what was obviously their own personal wardrode not something someone in Costumes had thrown at them and they smashed out both "What Would You Say?" and "Ants Marching" during the show. I was hooked.
Jump ahead some years. Dave et al have released sundry other albums, built the fanatical fanbase that treks all over the continent and world to see them and I had become friends with two very big Dave Matthews fans in Butch & Beast. Butch, real name Bryan Buchanon, worked with me at the casino and Beast, Greg Jorden, was a buddy of his from high school. Our favourite pasttime was heading down to our local watering hole - Tiff's in fabulous Barrie, ON - grabbing some grub, some pints and watching Leafs games. Yes, I watched a lot of Maple Leafs hockey, that is beside the point.
Anywho, the best thing about Tiff's was their jukebox. Actually, the best thing about Tiff's was that we knew everyone and so we got special treatment which included free reign on the jukebox and the jukebox happened to hold some Dave. You knew we were in the bar when you heard "Two Step" start playing.
Then Busted Stuff came out. Bucky and I copped it at Music World across the street from my house the day it came out. Later that summer, a tour was announced. I had never seen Dave Live; Beast and Bucky were vets, having tripped to Hartford to see him among their many shows. Checking dates, we discovered a very awesome possibility: back-to-back Dave in Montreal and Toronto at the start of September. What better way to close out the summer than a road trip to see DMB?
We planned it, executed said plan and rocked the two shows, which were exceedingly different. The first night, Montreal, was a fan show, where they played a lot of stuff that serious Dave fans were stoked to hear. Toronto was the Radio Show, where all the Dave Classics (read: the radio hits) were belted out in succession. There was some overlap from the two shows, including "Grace is Gone".
I've been known to love a sad bastard song or two and this is my personal favourite. A lament about love lost while riding the rail of a bar, stool under your ass, empty glass in front of you, heart heavier than ever. While I was a fan of the song already from the album, hearing it live, two nights in a row at that, cemented it's place in my heart and my all-time mix tape.
Starting off slow and somber, the song builds into Dave practically pleading with the bartender, his heartache and pain and loss more than he wants to feel at the time. As much as you can feel it through the CD version, seeing Dave's strained face on a giant screen back-to-back evenings as he raspily begs to a legion of fans sent shivers down my spine.
Excuse me please one more drink
Could make it strong cause I don’t need to think
She broke my heart my Grace is gone
One more drink and I’ll move on
Couple Dave's pleading and playing with the insanely good musicianship of the rest of the boys - LeRoi, Stefan, Carter and Boyd - and you have the makings of one of those songs that burns into your memory, forever capturing a place in your soul.
While I may not have the same kind of sad bastard days going forward that have prompted me to slap on Grace, there will always be a place for her on my playlist.