Dave Matthews Band: Bartender Meaning
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Before I'm old
Oh, brother of mine
Please don't forget me if I go
Fill my glass for me
With the wine you gave Jesus that set him free
After three days in the ground
Oh, and if I die
Before my time
anonymous Feb 12th, 2018 2:44pm report
This song is about Dave's fear of death which is more than just the mortal death...and his ask of God for mercy and forgiveness.
First is the fear of mortal death....and letting his family know that he loves & forgives "don't regret me if I go"
Second is his fear of money & fame killing his soul...and the plea to his mother to intervene if he does go off track
Third is his fear of alcoholism controlling his mind and spirit….and betraying himself like Judas betrayed Jesus.
Finally on bended knee is his prayer to God to have mercy on his soul and forgive him for his sins and allow him into heaven. The Wine symbolizes "the wine vinegar” given to Jesus while on the cross before he died and 3 days later rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.
anonymous Jun 5th, 2015 6:09am report
The song is about a person who, while talking to a bartender, deals with thoughts of their own death. In an interview with the Rocky Mountain News, Matthews said he liked the concept of a bartender as a God/Jesus figure to which to confess and get absolution. In the song, the protagonist tells others not to have certain feelings about him/her if he/she goes before his/her time. "Bartender" was the first song performed by the band after the August 2008 death of saxophonist LeRoi Moore. - per Wikipedia
Jamdavehead Jul 4th, 2012 7:43am report
There are two ways I've heard this song explained
First, it is inspired by Dave's years of being a bartender.
Second, Dave's addiction to alcohol.
They're both wrong, in my mind.
What I think the song is about is a man thinking about his death, and worrying about his family's reaction. Also, the man wants to think he has made an impact in their lives. This I picked up from lines like:
"Brother of mine, please don't forget me, if I go."
I also think of the bartender of a God/Jesus figure, who in a way, the man is praying to.
Fittingly, this was the first song played by the band following saxophonist LeRoi Moore's tragic death.
This is my favorite Dave song. It's so meaningful and beautiful.
AllEyezOpen Apr 22nd, 2009 4:42pm report
Dave is singing about the redemption we crave at the end of life when we find out that our sins stay with us when we don't save ourselves, " Oh please mother of mine please redirect me if this gold.."
It is only in you to save yourself. By asking the bartender and by being on bending knees he is begging to be saved with a quick fix. It;s IRONY people (not to be condescending, that's just the term)
Bottom line: To put off your sins and wrong doings to be wiped away rather than seeking guidance and strength within negates the purpose of life and growth. The battle has already been lost.
anonymous Jul 4th, 2008 7:13am report
I recently just lost my boyfriend in a motorcycle accident, and I never really listening to Dave's lyrics to this particular song until after. this song speaks to me ..
i think Dave is saying that in life after death, he doesn't want anyone to forget him, and I can relate to that, (that being my biggest fear). He wants people to be loving to themselves and other during life so they can be excepting to death and turn to God in times of need.
anonymous Jan 24th, 2008 1:38pm report
It is clear that god is the symbolic bartender. just as dave said himself, "this is an agnostic song about god" dave having agnostic views himself, still plays religion into much of his songs..however it is as clear to recognize that as it is to recognize the many times he plays live shows he will lyrically lean his head toward athiesm in many of these borderline religious songs, such as bartender
DmbDreamer Jan 21st, 2008 1:44pm report
The bartender is not Dave or a priest. It is God. The song is about about having made mistakes in life and asking for forgiveness and facing up to the music. I find the song interesting in the dual symbolism of religion and bar tending. While asking for forgiveness from a higher power, asking the bartender to fill your glass indicates also that it would be easier to drink his problems away. Two opposite meanings in the same picture.
anonymous Jan 21st, 2008 1:25pm report
My fellow Dave listeners.. you have missed the boat on this one. It is not meant to be religious it is meant to be ironical, when he says fill my glass w the wine yuou gave jesus, this is meant to be ironical that be implied that at the last step of life, give me some of that divine juice that jesus got..this is confirmed by a few live versions such as at fenway, he says, "god is not above you, god is in you"
anonymous Jan 23rd, 2007 1:36pm report
The subject of the song felt like he sold his life for fame and money. Whether the subject really did or not is irrelevent. Only him feeling that he had is the point. His life was full of regret for feeling he had done so.
The subject feels the most remorse for his family (brother/sister). He feels he has let them down in his quest for fame/money or merely having money and fame.
He goes to seek forgiveness/salvation. The "bartender" is a priest. Priests serve wine (i.e. blood of christ). The blood of the Lamb encompasses the blood of God... Through him salvation is found. He asks for not just a small plastic cup generally given for he asks to be "filled" as he feels he needs as much as he can to overcome his personal feelings against his family.
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
anonymous Nov 7th, 2006 11:01pm report
Well, I derive my interpretation from the lines "bartender you see, the wine that's drinking me, is the vine that strung judas from the devils tree, his roots deep deep in the ground"
Judas's betrayal of jesus is metaphorically the vine that hung him. Going back the other lyrics now, it would make sense that the song may be an apology to family for betrayal, possibly related to alcoholism due to the overall tone of the song. It is as if dave is saying to his brother "brother of mine oh please don't forget me if I go...Sweet sister of mine please don't regret me if I die." him asking the bartender is like him asking god to fill his glass, or his life, with a resurrection or rebirth after having been nearly dead and buried, just as jesus rose 3 days after his crucifixion. It's a loose interpretation.
anonymous May 2nd, 2006 5:01am report
This is a religious song. The bartender is God. "Bartender please fill my glass for me with the wine you gave Jesus that set him free after three days in the ground" it is about his respect and worship for God. "I'm on bended knee I pray Bartender please." Again a lot of his song are religious.
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