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Don't Drink the Water

By: Dave Matthews Band

Transcribed by: Justin Marks

rjm46@columbia.edu

 

Tab notes: = = slide Try to play this on a five-string, if you can. It's just really fun to dig in on that low D. I only included three beats to the D hit in the verse. Just listen to the bass drum for the rest. Also, the section in the bridge where he does that slide changes every time. In fact, you're really best off just listening to the CD for most sections, since many nuances and fills appear, but this should help. Listen to how he goes crazy in the outtro at the end. Song analysis: Why start with Don't Drink the Water, a song that many consider to be a non-DMB-sounding song? Because guess what? It is the DMB, and it's a great place to start talking about Stefan Lessard and what he does with Carter Beauford to both lock and fill texture at the same time. Here we have a brilliant bass line, both conventional (one note on the bass drum in the verse) and totally new (the slides in the bridge and chorus). Verse: First of all, if you're thinking, what an easy bass line, how can he get away with just playing one note?, I dare you to get a metronome, or just get a drummer, and try to play this song perfectly. The bass and bass drum are totally in the pocket in this song, as Stefan never escapes what Carter does with his right foot, even in the fills (Listen to the verse right after the first chorus). This is the definition of control, something that Stefan Lessard has more of than most bassists in existence, the ability to be happy with one note, carefully placed, establishing the beat. Chorus: Ah, trademark Stefan Lessard fill #1: the random slide up on the E-string to a perfect 5th and back down. Listen after he hits the establishing G, matching the cymbal crash, as Stefan simply slides up to the D, hitting every note in between, fiddles around up there for a bit, and then comes back down. Excellent space-filling technique, totally the work of Lessard himself. Bridge: Again, that space fill, but this time it has a logic behind it, because he follows note for note what Matthews is singing: da-ah da-ah da-ah da-ah daaaaah. This kind of rythmic trailing is something that Carter Beauford often does too, but hear the bass acts as an echo, further amplifying the voice and giving the melodic sensation to the song. Notice that he does not pay attention to a low end here, as just playing the B of the chord would not be enough space-filling. Outtro: Oh, and speaking of space-filling: here it is. The final verse, where the song has climaxed and they take it out. An even better experience live, this section establishes the Carter/Stefan dynamic: fill that space selectively at first, and then go crazy. With the lack of texture provided by an acoustic guitar, one needs to make sure that the song has no dead points, which will usually occur on the 2 and 3 of a given measure where nothing is happening (after the guitars sustain has subsided). Sometimes, the dead points will be used to the band's advantage, as in Crash Into Me (more on that later...), but in Don't Drink the Water, when they get to the end, there's no room for subtilty. So look at the tab for this part, how Lessard essentially just creates a new melody, following a new bass drum pattern from the quarter note-oriented verse. Then listen to the album (or better yet, a live recording), and hear how Stefan turns the whole meldy around for every groove, providing subtle changes while always maintaining a huge, black texture that drives the song to a powerful conclusion. Best moment of the song, hands down: when the bass cuts out entirely right at the Don't drink the water, there's blood in the water section. Tasteful and very strong, when Lessard slides back in on the low B string you realize exactly how much you had missed him when he was gone. So this is Don't Drink the Water. Questions? Comments? E-mail me at rjm46@columbia.edu.

 

4-string tab:

 

Verse:

G--------4---4-----5---

D--0-0-0---5---5-3---3-

A----------------------

E----------------------

 

Chorus:

G------------

D------------

A------------

E--3=12=10=8-

 

Bridge:

G-----------------------

D-----------------------

A-----------------------

E--7-10=9-9=7-7=5-5=3-3-

 

Pre-outtro

G-----------------------------------

D--5---5---5------------------------

A----5---5---5----------------------

E--------------7-10=9-9=7-7=5-5=3-3-

 

Outtro (Verse variation)

G----------5---------------

D------7-8---8-7-5-7-5-----

A--5-5-----------------8-7-

E--------------------------

 

 

5-string tab:

 

Verse:

G----------------------

D----------------------

A--------2---2-----3---

E----------3---3-1---1-

B--3-3-3---------------

 

Chorus:

G------------

D------------

A------------

E--3=12=10=8-

B------------

 

Bridge:

G-----------------------

D-----------------------

A-----------------------

E--7-10=9-9=7-7=5-5=3-3-

B-----------------------

 

Pre-outtro

G-----------------------------------

D-----------------------------------

A-----------------------------------

E--3---3---3---7-10=9-9=7-7=5-5=3-3-

B----3---3---3----------------------

 

Outtro (Verse variation)

G--------------------------

D--------------------------

A----------3---------------

E------5-6---6-5-3-5-3-----

B--3-3-----------------6-5-

 

 

 

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