Crash Into Me

 

Benoit Denizet-Lewis is obsessed with Dave Matthews. His friends—and his therapist—think this might be a problem.

Back when people purchased their music in stores (and, thankfully, could not yet Twitter about it—Just passed a hottie on the escalator at Virgin!), a former boyfriend and I went CD shopping.

I don’t like shopping, especially on a Saturday when I could be watching college football, but that afternoon I practically skipped to the local record store, where he bought some obscure German CD his hipster friends were raving about, and I grabbed the latest album from one of my favorite groups, the Dave Matthews Band.

“You’re the weirdest gay,” he muttered as I drove us home blasting DMB the whole way. “And what are you going to do now—play beer pong with some frat boys?”

I just might, I told him, causing him to gasp in the same way he had when I’d announced earlier in the day that I would happily cheat on him if Dave Matthews ever wanted to, you know, “crash into me,” to borrow the title of one of his most popular songs.


Never mind that Dave isn’t really my type, or that he’s married—to a woman. I had still fallen madly and unexpectedly in love with him five years before at Northwestern University when my fraternity brothers dragged me to one of his shows.

The brothers and I didn’t share a musical aesthetic (they eagerly mocked my Tori Amos collection), but, with the help of some unexpectedly stellar weed from New Jersey, we bonded that night over the jazzy, jam-band sound of Dave and his talented bandmates.

I went out the next day and bought the group’s CD, and I was one of the first in line to buy their latest, Big Whiskey & the Groogrux King, which came out last summer.

But Dave Matthews is best appreciated in concert, and I’ve appreciated him nearly 50 times, often dragging along my gay friends, who bitch and moan until they see thousands of attractive guys (some accompanied by girlfriends, sadly) dancing to music that my friends invariably end up liking. “This is actually really fun!” they’ll say.


How to explain my DMB obsession? My former therapist insists that it’s just another example of my unwillingness to grow up. “You’re 30 now,” she said deliberately, as if breaking some terrible news. “Should you really be going to concerts with cute, stoned, shirtless college boys?”

“Well, if you put it like that, then definitely!” I joked, causing her to shift slightly in her seat and scribble something snooty in her notepad.

It’s tempting to psychoanalyze my obsession with Dave Matthews, but the truth is that I’ve always been an unusual gay. A friend once called me an “artsy jock,” meaning I love theater as much as I love playing and watching sports.

I’ve never fit neatly into any one group, and I don’t love sports, Dave Matthews, or Tori Amos because I’m obsessed with appearing masculine, young, or supergay. I love them because I love them. Or, as a friend put it, “You love them because you have shitty taste.”

Still, I am not alone in my shitty taste. Over the years I’ve met many openly gay Dave Matthews fans, and you can only imagine our excitement when we first heard the lyrics to the 1996 DMB song “So Much to Say”:

I say my hell is the closet I’m stuck inside

Can’t see the light

Yeah yeah yeah can’t see the light

Keep it locked up inside don’t talk about it

T-t-talk about the weather

Yeah yeah yeah

Open up my head and let me out little baby

I find sometimes it’s easy to be myself

Sometimes I find it’s better to be somebody else

Was Dave trying to tell us something, or had he written that song for his gay fans? Maybe, as some straight DMB fans insist, the song isn’t about being closeted—it’s about the universal struggle to be ourselves. So, let me end this story by being myself: My name is Benoit, and I’m addicted to Dave.

(And not only because he wrote one of the best love songs ever. Or the best Christmas song ever. Or the best song about fish ever.)

—Benoit Denizet-Lewis

A version of this story originally appeared in The Advocate.


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About Benoit Denizet-Lewis

Benoit Denizet-Lewis is an editor-at-large with The Good Men Project magazine, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, and the author of two books, including America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life.

Comments

  1. Tom Matlack says:

    I am with you brother. I have seen him more times than I care to admit as well (most recently at Fenway Park). The first concert was a revelation. The music is complex as are the lyrics. I couldn’t quite undersand how all these drunk college boys could really *get* what was going on on stage. But after a while I really didn’t care. I also became obsessed with Dave’s cool, humble demeanor simply commenting after every song “thank you very much.” I once hear that the band have two sets of mikes during their performance, one for the audience and one to catch up between themselves. No idea if that is true but he does seem to be talking a lot between songs, and not to us, which also increases the allure.

    As with most good things in life, I long ago stopped questioning why Dave in concert is really one of the best things you can do. I just enjoy the hell out of it.

  2. David Wise says:

    If loving Dave Matthews is wrong, I don’t want to ever do right. Hee, hee

  3. dave is the man! caught him and loved him too on a frat bro outing to a soccer game in providence, RI back in fall of ’94. a club so small i could have spit and hit hiim from the balcony, which of course one shouldn’t do. still stuck on ants marching

  4. Timothy Gladden says:

    Headed to the Gorge in August for my 62nd through 65th shows, some of the shows seen with Benoit.
    It never gets old, they never fail to amaze. Not sure what I am going to do next summer when the boys take the year off. Sigh

  5. I agree with everything you said except surely you mean Crush is the best lovesong every written….only a tiny bit ahead of Oh….right?

  6. I love watching Carter play drums — the man is amazing.

  7. Great article.

    I think the reason why Dave Matthews tends to have an “uncool” image is people judge him purely based on the material released on the radio. They only think about songs like Crash Into Me, The Space Between and You and Me.

    To really appreciate Dave Matthews as a musician, you have to devote time to listening to the songs that aren’t hand delivered to you. I’ve heard a lot of critical friends show a complete look of disbelief when they listen to and interpret the message behind songs like “The Stone,” “Minarets,” “The Last Stop,” “The Dreaming Tree,” “Spoon,” “Pig,” “Sweet Up and Down,” “Some Devil,” “So Damn Lucky,” “Save Me,” “Shotgun,” “Monkey Man,” “Bartender,” “The Best of What’s Around,” “Granny,” “Dodo,” “You Never Know,” and so many others. The guy and his band are fantastic musicians. They’ve made some mistakes, but they’re much more often hit it out of the park.

    …And Carter Beauford is worth the price of admission alone.

  8. I couldn’t agree with you more Benoit…. Although I’m not gay, I do LOVE me some Dave Matthews. Excited to see them again here in just a week.

    RIP Roi

  9. Great article! I love me some Dave too! So does my five year old daughter. My husband is quite jealous of my infatuation. I can totally understand yours.

  10. Thank you for such an interesting article. I am also a gay man and I love DMB. I am coming up on my 30th show at Wrigley.

    When I started going to shows (my first was actually in 1993 at a college thing) I fell in love with the music as you did. What has surprised me since I started seeing him more regularly ( I never miss ALPINE) is that the true fans, and not the ones who are just there for beer pong and blunts, are a super accepting bunch. I saw the Grateful Dead 38 times before Jerry shuffled off, and even those fans were not as open minded….now times have changed, so the whole GAY thing isn’t as taboo as it once was.

    At the recent Alpine show, I took my best friend and camped for 4 days up in the woods. We had a great time and the night 1 show was incredible. We met some great people and agreed to meet up again in the Warehouse lot to hang out again for night 2. I was actually a little worried because night 2 would also be when my partner was coming to the show (he will come to 1 out of every 5 I go to…not a DMB fan at all). I was super surprised to not only have the new friends welcome him and another friend in, but to find out we were not alone. They had many gay and lesbian friends they had made at the shows and they proceeded to introduce us all around. It was like a weird family…and I was glad I had found them.

    Listen to the words of Typical Situation…that sums me up…
    Now everybody’s happy, everybody’s free
    Well keep the big door open, everyone’ll come around
    Why are you different, why are you that way
    If you don’t get in line well lock you away

    I checked out the big door…and I found a lot more than I ever thought I could.

  11. Brian Pilecki says:

    Thank you for your post on this subject. I’m a 31 year old gay man who just went to his 62nd show, and my friends AND my therapist are totally cool with it!! I know there aren’t many gay Dave fans out there, but I agree with David’s comments that in my experience, the true fans who goto many shows tend to be very open and accepting people.

    Who says you have to stop going to shows when you get older? I love going to live music of all sorts, and love the diversity of age, genders, ethnicity, etc. wherever I am. I have to say, I am a therapist myself, and don’t think it is any business for your therapist to be pushing his or her own values on to you and telling you what you should be doing- a good therapist should only be doing so if he or she is reflecting back to you something that they already hear in you.

    One of the best things about being gay is that I was given an out to the typical American life trajectory that was part of my New Jersey upbringing- college, job, marriage, house, kids, etc… Thankfully, since I’m not part of that club, I can stake my own path out and decide for myself what my values and interests are. Since I still love going to shows, sparking a jay, and maybe having a few too many beers, I am not going to stop until I start getting bored with the music (eat, drink, and be merry…)

    In any case, I am happy to hear that there are other gay men out there who love Dave as much as I do. He’s been an inspiration to me (I play guitar and write my own music) and has been part of my life for so long, his music is like family to me. Enjoy the rest of the tour and thanks again for your blog!

    PS- I am single and always looking to meet gay men who are into Dave, so if anyone reading this is interested… :)

  12. Great article! I have been buggin my boyfriend to start a gay DMB fanclub called “Dancing Nancies”!

  13. as a gay woman, i completely agree with this article. i, too, do not fit exactly into what most people think a gay woman is supposed to “be” and have been ga-ga for dave since the early 90’s. his voice first caught my ear… then, wow … the band gave me chills. they are/were (RIP roi) all such unique, extremely talented men. i have to admit the college kids annoy the h*ll out of me now, probably because i’m almost 42 … but also because i just want them to shut up and listen! to avoid my frustrations, my partner and i avoid lawn seats and purchase VIP seating when we can afford it. his music means a great deal to me. thanks for this article.

  14. ANdySTev says:

    Great article! I am a straight guy (but we’re all a little gay, arent’ we) and I have an admitted un-healthy, addiction/man-crush on Dave…have for years. No sense of ending that relationship now!

  15. Let’s just say he walks on water…..

  16. Hey does anyone know if you purchase VIP seats if Dave and Time will make an appearance in the pre reception. I would absolutely love to meet him. I am 45 and my husband and I have wanted to see Dave in concert for 10 years and finally we are going to go. We are so excited and grateful to finally see him and Tim.

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