Behind The Song: “Crash Into Me” by Dave Matthews Band

When Tim Reynolds first heard his friend and musical collaborator Dave Matthews play the song, “Crash Into Me,” there were no lyrics. Yet, like with many hit songs, once you even have the feeling, the vibe, the mood, it’s clear there’s something there that will last. For Reynolds, even the rough demo had that magic je ne sais quoi.

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In an interview with American Songwriter, Reynolds said: “For the most part, Dave comes up with songs and then he brings them to the studio. With [the album] Crash, working with [longtime DMB producer] Steve Lillywhite, we just fleshed them out with the band.

“Then with different songs, different people would add things. But it usually starts out with a song. I remember when we started recording the song, ‘Crash,’ he [Matthews] didn’t even have the lyrics. It was kind of silly stuff but I remember thinking, ‘Well, this is going to be a record, man. This is going to be a hit because this song is so sweet.’”

“Crash Into Me” was a hit. The song, released in December 1996, was the third single from the album, Crash. The song hit No. 7 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart in March of 1997 and was nominated for a Grammy. And Crash, the album, sold over seven million copies upon its release in 1996, becoming the band’s best-selling record.

Both the album and the song were recorded by the Dave Matthews Band with official-unofficial band member and expert, nimble guitarist Reynolds along for the journey. The music was produced by longtime DMB collaborator, Lillywhite. Sonically, it’s lovely. It’s bright with thick acoustic guitars and smooth horns. DMB drummer, Carter Beauford, is an octopus on the kit, with seemingly more arms than any other percussionist.

Reynolds remembers tracking the album. He said, “On the first couple of albums, Steve Lillywhite would have me double everything that Dave did so it would be stereo guitars in unison, kind of like when you do metal guitars. On each side, there is a guitar doing the same thing and it sounds really fat…

“You’d play all the parts that Dave does so they get so fat. Nobody’s going to not notice that guitar part because you’re all playing it together, you know?… That was how we did it for the first couple of albums, like that.

Crash was the one that Steve Lillywhite said, and I’m sure he was just trying to make me happy, ‘It’s going to be metal!’ I was like, ‘Whoa, really, okay!’ Then it wasn’t metal at all, of course.”

Substantively, “Crash Into Me” is from the perspective of, well, a Peeping Tom. Matthews said as much about the lyrics’ meaning himself during a VH1 Storytellers. He also said, “This song is about the worship of women.” But he noted it’s also from the eyes of a “little bit of a crazy man.” The kind of person you’d call the police on. It’s about someone watching a girl through her bedroom window. While this story may not be everyone’s taste, especially today, when sung by Matthews over his acoustics, it was undeniable in the mid-‘90s. (Sometimes you have to make art about what you’d never do in real life.) Matthews sings:

Touch your lips just so I know
In your eyes, love, it glows so
I’m bare-boned and crazy for you
When you come crash
Into me, baby
And I come into you
In a boys dream
In a boys dream
If I’ve gone overboard
Then I’m begging you
To forgive me
In my haste
When I’m holding you so girl
Close to me

Oh and you come crash
Into me, baby
And I come into you
Hike up your skirt a little more
And show the world to me
Hike up your skirt a little more
And show your world to me
In a boys dream, in a boys dream

Oh I watch you there
Through the window
And I stare at you
You wear nothing but you
Wear it so well
Tied up and twisted
The way I’d like to be
For you, for me, come crash
Into me

Not necessarily lyrics for the faint of heart. Yet, many adore the track today as much then, including legendary singers Kelly Clarkson and Stevie Nicks, who both recently added their names to the long list of acolytes for “Crash Into Me.”

And when Matthews performs the song with Reynolds at Luther College for the duo’s acclaimed double-album recording Live at Luther College, he prefaces the song by saying, “It’s a sweet song, it’s a sweet song… I hope!”

Of course it is, Dave.

(Even the beloved movie, Ladybird, thinks so!)

Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival

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