The Rockville, Maryland-born jam band O.A.R. (short for Of A Revolution) were big around the turn of the new millennium thanks, in part, to digital download service like Napster. College students hungry for songs to listen to in their dorms downloaded track after track hoping to find the next great bootleg or live performance to satisfy their acoustic, reggae-twinged cravings. As a result, groups like O.A.R. thrived.
Videos by American Songwriter
Videos by American Songwriter
In total, the band, fronted by Marc Roberge and featuring nimble lead guitar player Richard On, has released 10 studio LPs from 1997 to 2022. Below, we concentrate on the band’s formative years and dive into the top 10 O.A.R. songs from 1997 to 2003.
1. “That Was a Crazy Game of Poker”
Likely the band’s most famous song, this song tells the story of, well, a crazy game of poker. It extends nearly nine minutes. Roberge told American Songwriter several years ago about his grandfather, who had a small home card room in his house, which likely spurred the feeling behind this acoustic hit. The song originally came out on the band’s 1997 album, The Wanderer.
2. “I Feel Home”
A nostalgic song about coming home after being away and reconnecting with friends, this is the perfect song for a backyard BBQ or even a night drinking with the homies. Originally released on the band’s 1999 album, Soul’s Aflame, this song is the anthem for bonds between longtime pals.
3. “Hey Girl”
This song was so good and so beloved by the band’s fans that it landed on multiple albums from the group, including the 1999 LP Soul’s Aflame, the 2001 album Risen and the 2003 project In Between Now and Then. The song is about a loving crush, meeting a new person and falling for them, honestly and truly.
4. “Black Rock”
From the band’s debut 1997 album, The Wanderer, this song is about finding a special place for just you, a place to go to get away from the world and sit and write and collect your thoughts and get in touch with the most personal side of yourself. Another anthem for an important part of each person’s life, this song rocks.
5. “Dareh Meyod”
In 2003, the band released its most commercially-sounding and produced record up to then, the LP, In Between Now and Then. This was the second track from the album and it includes a depth of sound, a bigness of production, and an emotional quality that tugs at your soul. It’s an example of an indie band being able to become a big one in one fell swoop.
6. “About Mr. Brown”
The penultimate song from the group’s debut 1997 album, The Wanderer, this song showcases the passion that fans came to love from O.A.R., a combination of joy, energy, and wide-eyed appreciation for music.
7. “She Gone (Only in Dreams)”
From the 2001 album, Risen, this song has a definite reggae flare. It’s a fan favorite live, including saxophone and the reflective sense of self that helped to make O.A.R. beloved.
8. “Delicate Few”
Passionate and communal. This song soars live. This song originally appeared on the 2001 album, Risen, and it’s all about loving each other. Something we could all remember a bit more these days.
9. “City on Down”
The opening song to the 1999 album, Soul’s Aflame, it’s just a fantastic jam song. Acoustic strum, horns, electric lead, bass guitar and drums bopping. It is feel good and fun.
10. “About an Hour Ago”
The sixth song from the 1997 album, The Wanderer, this is a lovely, meandering song that lets your mind walk, dream and wander through bright rhythms and blissful storytelling.
(Photo by Scott Dudelson/WireImage for KAABOO Del Mar via imageSPACE)