Post-Millennial Classics: “All Your Favorite Bands,” Dawes’ Soaring Ballad and the Touching Wish at the Heart of It

How do you wish an old friend well? Do you simply do it the old-fashioned way with something as trite as “Thinking of you” or “Hope you’re OK?” Or do you dig deeper and say something that’s guaranteed to truly mean something to them based on the contents of their mind and heart. Dawes chose the latter with “All Your Favorite Bands.”

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Featuring a refrain that immediately gave music fans shivers of recognition upon hearing it, the song had instant classic written all over it upon its release in 2015 on the album Things Happen. Let’s take a look at how the song came to be and what makes it so special.

“Bands” on the Run

Dawes were already three albums into their career when they began recording the album they would title after the song we’re profiling here. Thanks to their SoCal origins and the sensitive, articulate lyrics of lead singer Taylor Goldsmith on songs like “Time Spent in Los Angeles” and “Just My Luck,” they earned comparisons to the singer/songwriter work of folks like Jackson Browne.

For the fourth album, they sought to highlight the interplay of the band a little bit more. To that end, they hired Americana legend David Rawlings to produce. Rawlings had known the band from the beginning of their time together, and jumped at the chance to work with him.

To get the desired result, Dawes decided they would take the new material they were planning to record out on the road first. Rawlings was with them during those shows so he could get a feel for how it all worked. He then encouraged them to play the songs in the studio with that same kind of live looseness and energy.

As for “All Your Favorite Bands,” it was simply an idea for a chorus when Goldsmith brought it to Rawlings. And the songwriter didn’t really think too much of it. But Rawlings immediately reacted positively and suggested to Goldsmith he should go back and flesh out the song, because it seemed like it might be something special.

Goldsmith did just that, enlisting the help of singer/songwriter Jonny Fritz to finish it. It’s clear the band knew they had something pretty good, considering they made it the title track for the album. But Goldsmith has mentioned in many interviews he was surprised at how fans have been drawn to the song, not only when it was first released but also in the decade or so that has passed. In the scattered modern music world, it’s hard to call any song an anthem, but “All Your Favorite Bands” certainly qualifies as much as anything released since 2000.

The Magic of “All Your Favorite Bands”

You can’t get very far into any discussion of this song without talking about the refrain. What does it mean to say to somebody, May all your favorite bands stay together, and to make it the final part of an extended gesture of goodwill?

It means you understand what makes them tick. And it also means you likely share with them a deep love for music, the kind that makes it a kind of tragedy for you when a beloved group decides to go their separate ways. Considering the attrition rate for musical collectives, a wish that this person’s favorite bands stay together would represent a kind of utopia if it ever came true.

From that foundation, Goldsmith and co-writer Flynn fill in the blanks of what this relationship is about. It’s clear the person being addressed isn’t currently part of the narrator’s everyday life, and maybe they don’t even really stay in touch anymore. The way the narrator mentions writing the song in the second verse suggests it’s the best way he can communicate.

The offered details of the recipient of this long-distance dedication suggests a free spirit (When I think of you, you still have on that hat that says, “Let’s Party”) who might have tested the limits of that freedom (I hope that life without a chaperone is what you thought it’d be), which is likely what took them away from the narrator in the first place. But any hard feelings are clearly in the rear-view, replaced by profound affection: I hope the world sees the same person that you always were to me.

The video for “All Your Favorite Bands” ends with Taylor Goldsmith singing the chorus with a bunch of young school kids. This is a song that invites that kind of communal singalong experience. You just don’t get too many of those these days that are done as well as this. Songs like it are why Dawes has joined the list of favorite bands that would likely break a lot of hearts if they ever broke up.

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Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for SiriusXM

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