has finally broken his silence on Lady Bird, the acclaimed, Oscar-nominated film from Greta Gerwig, of which Matthews’ “Crash Into Me” is a key component. The singer-songwriter at the head of the Dave Matthews Band discussed his 1996 hit’s role in the film in an interview with New York Magazine’s David Marchese, also touching goodnaturedly on DMB’s almost Nickelback-esque reputation as a go-to punching bag for music snobs.
“Everything to do with Lady Bird was flattering,” said Matthews. “It was so lovely to see the song used as a central tool in someone else’s story.” The term “central” is accurate here, as “Crash Into Me” sees Saoirse Ronan’s Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson through two key moments: In the song’s first appearance, a heartbroken Lady Bird and her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) are crying in a car, while in the second, Lady Bird’s pretentious beau Kyle (Timothée Chalamet) disdainfully dismisses the song, to which Lady Bird replies, “I love it,” giving up on impressing Kyle and the rest of the cool kids in favor of patching things up with her then-estranged best friend. “The moment in the movie when it plays is so beautiful: Lady Bird takes a stand, you know?” said Matthews. Indeed, the film uses “Crash Into Me” as shorthand for being earnest and unafraid to stand up for what you love, no matter what others think, while also tapping into the exact sort of adolescent, ‘90s nostalgia that Gerwig’s Lady Bird conjured so successfully.
“It was also nice for me to see the song through someone else’s eyes because I have a strange relationship with a lot of music that I’ve written,” Matthews continued. “I listen to it and I’m like, ‘What am I talking about? This is bullshit.’ So seeing ‘Crash Into Me’ in Lady Bird allowed me to hear my music without having to impose myself on it.” It turns out Matthews saw his most popular track through writer-director Gerwig’s eyes in more ways than one: As N.Y. Mag also notes, Gerwig wrote Matthews a letter hoping to clear “Crash Into Me” for her film, gushing, ”’Crash Into Me’ was and is the most romantic song ever. It is sincere and loving and tender and epic … It is impossible for me to imagine this movie without it.” See Lady Bird if you haven’t already, and you’ll likely agree, even if you come down on Kyle’s side of the debate.
Read Marchese and Matthews’ full exchange about Lady Bird below, revisit “Crash Into Me” itself further down and see where Lady Bird landed on our list of 2017’s best films right here.
How satisfying was Lady Bird for you? Both for way it used “Crash Into Me” so warmly and also for how it showed a fan of yours who didn’t fit any of the negative clichés. And also, that movie kicked off such a nice wave of affection for the band.
There was a great headline I saw online: something like “Lady Bird Somehow Resurrects the Dave Matthews Band.” Without question—and some express it with more vinegar than others—there are people who truly don’t like my band. I think a lot of them just go, “I hate the Dave Matthews band” because they saw someone they didn’t like in one of our T-shirts. But everything to do with Lady Bird was flattering. It was so lovely to see the song used as a central tool in someone else’s story. And the moment in the movie when it plays is so beautiful: Lady Bird takes a stand, you know? It was also nice for me to see the song through someone else’s eyes because I have a strange relationship with a lot of music that I’ve written. I listen to it and I’m like, “What am I talking about? This is bullshit.” So seeing “Crash Into Me” in Lady Bird allowed me to hear my music without having to impose myself on it.