Tuesday Tune: ‘Satellite’ by The Dave Matthews Band

Song: “Satellite”

Artist: Dave Matthews Band

Album: Under the Table and Dreaming

Bear McCreary’s excellent arrangement of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” for Battlestar Galactica led to an interesting discussion of which artist has recorded the best interpretation of the song. Jimi Hendrix? Michael Hedges?

In the comments section of last week’s post, quite a few people nominated the Dave Matthews Band’s version of the folk staple. While I love DMB’s reading of the song, I decided to feature a more Science Fiction appropriate track for this week’s Tuesday Tune….


For the past decade, it has been easy to take the Dave Matthews Band for granted. They’ve been so popular for so long that I think many people forget just how unique and amazing they sound.

“Satellite”, from the Under the Table and Dreaming album was released in 1994. This was at the height of the grunge era; when Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden ruled the airwaves. Nothing else sounded quite like “Satellite” at the time. Featuring a lilting compound time signature and flowing saxophone and violin lines, “Satellite” literally sounded like it was from another planet when compared to the sludgy guitar riffs of the time.

Much is made of Dave Matthews’ use of the acoustic guitar. While lots of rockers of the time strummed their way through a few ballads, Dave Matthews redefined the way that the instrument could be used. Never one to resort to simple open chord strums, Matthews spryly plucked circular ostinatos and buoyant chordal riffs to power the band’s string of memorable hits.

Now it’s your turn: What’s your favorite Dave Matthews Band song?

Who’s your favorite band that features non-traditional rock instruments like the violin?

8 thoughts on “Tuesday Tune: ‘Satellite’ by The Dave Matthews Band”

  1. Satellite is stretching things. You just wanted to talk about DMB on SF Signal. That being the case, my favorite song is either Tripping Billies, Lie in Our Graves, or You Never Know. Ah, hell, I can’t decide.

    Satellite is one of my least favorites though. It doesn’t have any energy live. Obviously, DMB is my favorite band that features non-trad instruments.

  2. I don’t like Satellite that much either, although it is hard to find a DMB song I won’t listen to over and over again forever; especially any time you find him and Tim Reynolds playing together.  As far as your pick goes, why not One Sweet World?  I would consider that just as Sci-Fi as Satellite.

    As far as picking a favorite, such a hard thing to do, but DMB is a passion my wife and I share; so I should pick one of ours and that would be Ants Marching, Crash (natrually), Lover Lay Down, American Baby, or #41.

    On a side note: Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds Live at Luther College is by far the best album I own of his.  Don’t skip it just because you already have everything on it.  It is by far the best live album I have ever heard I think mainly just do to the laid back atmosphere of the performance.

  3. Patrick:  I agree.  Satellite isn’t the best live DMB song.  There is something magical about the version that appears on “Under the Table and Dreaming” though.  I haven’t been as into them in recent years, but they do have an impressive catalog of songs at this point. 

     

    CRAmus: Tim Reynolds is a phenomenal guitarist.  He and Dave make an excellent guitar duo.  I spent years playing in NJ coffee shops where I would always do a few Dave Matthews songs.  My favorites to perform were Crash and Stay.

  4. John knows – I’m a rabid DMB fan (and I’m not talking about the Drunken Monkey Brewery, although I’m a rabid fan of theirs as well – they don’t do music. It’s a long story…), but I prefer, of all his albums (do we still call them that in today’s age of iTunes and digital downloads?), ‘Live at Luther College’.  Those 2 dics pushed aside all other live albums to become my absolute favorites.

    Satellite is a great song, but my favorite, if forced to choose, would be either Grace is Gone from Busted Stuff or Ants Marching from Under the Table & Dreaming.  Both are fantastic.  Ants is the first one I ever heard from these guys and so, it’s still the one I go to when I decide it’s time for a little DMB.

    As for Satellite not being scifi enough, I disagree. But I offer these alternatives if you must have some: When the World Ends, The Space Between, Sleep to Dream Her, Rapunzel, The Maker… I think you can find plenty of worthy contenders. :)

    ~P

    @atfmb

  5. Uhhh…the Dave Matthews Band? Why haven’t they died in a fiery plane crash yet?

    I personally love violins–just started teaching myself how to play one, actually–but there are quite a few artists out there whose music includes “non-standard” rock instruments like the violin. To name only a very, very few: Emilie Autumn (a genius violinist herself), Trepanning Trio, Arcade Fire, Mother Mother, Epochate, Apocalyptica, Rasputina, Kings of Convenience, and Andrew Bird.

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