Don't Drink the Water (Dave Matthews Band song)

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"Don't Drink the Water"
Single by Dave Matthews Band
from the album Before These Crowded Streets
Released 1998
Format CD
Genre Rock
Length 7:03 (Album Version)
4:35 (Radio Edit)
Label RCA
Songwriter(s) Dave Matthews [1]
Producer(s) Steve Lillywhite
Dave Matthews Band singles chronology
"Tripping Billies"
"Don't Drink the Water"
"Stay (Wasting Time)"
"Tripping Billies"
"Don't Drink the Water"
"Stay (Wasting Time)"
Before These Crowded Streets track listing
"The Last Stop"
"Don't Drink the Water"
"Stay (Wasting Time)"
The Best of What's Around Vol. 1 track listing
"American Baby"
"Don't Drink the Water"
Audio sample
"Dave Matthews Band - Don't Drink The Water"

"Don't Drink the Water" is a song by the Dave Matthews Band, released as the first single from their album Before These Crowded Streets. The song was also the first of three music videos made for this album. The song was based on a simpler tune played by Dave Matthews, first dubbed "Weight of the World" when played on his acoustic tour with Tim Reynolds in 1996, and later "Leave Me Praying", as the song became more structured during tours in 1997. The subject of the song is the apartheid in South Africa and the persecution of the Native Americans.

According to a photo of the song list released on the band's website during promotion of Before These Crowded Streets, "Don't Drink the Water" was originally referred to as "Drop-D" during recording as that is the guitar tuning used by Matthews for the song. The song features Alanis Morissette on background vocals and Béla Fleck on the banjo. A 24-second studio jam is heard at the end of the track. As a single, it reached No. 4 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. Like all of the singles from the album, it had to be edited for radio airplay, due to its length.

A music video was produced to promote the single.

In concert[edit]

When played live, "Don't Drink the Water" is often preceded by a spacey intro that features Matthews' famous screams and comes to a loud climax before slowing back down into the beginning of the song. The song itself is played at a much more upbeat tempo that differs greatly from the much slower paced one featured on the album.

Occasionally, Matthews will sing the first verse of "This Land is Your Land" as part of the bridge near the end of the song.

"Don't Drink the Water" is used frequently by the band as their opening number.

Track listing[edit]

U.S. single[edit]

  1. "Don't Drink the Water" (Edit) – 4:35
  2. "Don't Drink the Water" (Album Version) – 7:03

Australia single[edit]

  1. "Don't Drink the Water" (Edit) – 4:35
  2. "Crash into Me" (Live) – 5:33
  3. "Tripping Billies" (Live) – 5:28

Live releases[edit]


Chart (1998) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Airplay 50
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 4
U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 19


  1. ^ ASCAP entry for the song[permanent dead link] ASCAP. Accessed on September 6, 2010.