In the late ’90s, the Dave Matthews Band was one of the biggest bands in the world. Each of their first three albums went multi-platinum, and their improvisational live shows made them a stadium headliner. And yet this hippie-friendly collective couldn’t just put out any album that it pleased. In 1999 and 2000, they gathered at a house outside the band’s hometown of Charlottesville, Va. to record songs that were eventually shelved in favor of a much poppier record released in 2001, Everyday. But when those songs, subsequently dubbed The Lillywhite Sessions — after the band’s producer, Steve Lillywhite — leaked on Napster, they were adored by DMB’s hard-core fans.
In this episode, I revisit The Lillywhite Sessions wth one of those fans, indie-rock artist Ryley Walker, for another installment of our Contrarian’s Canon series. Unlike other albums discussed in Contrarian’s Canon, Ryley and I disagree sharply on The Lillywhite Sessions — he loves the album so much that he covered it in its entirety for an upcoming record due out Nov. 16, whereas I … can’t stand this album or DMB in general. But I am willing to be persuaded! Can Ryley pull off the impossible make me actually like the Dave Matthews Band, the scourge of my late-’90s college years?