“Don’t Drink the Water” by Dave Matthews Band

“Don’t Drink the Water” strongly divulges the story of Europeans who discover the Americas and decide to forcibly root the natives out to gain ownership without an ounce of respect.

The song’s narrator tells the story of how invaders force the natives to simply give up their own land so they can build their own home. They threaten to kill the natives if they decide to fight for what rightfully belongs to them.

And the sad thing is that the antagonistic invaders in this song are fully aware that what they are doing is wrong. However, they forge on with their unimaginable atrocities, motivated by one objective. And said objective is their selfish ambition to possess the land and build their own home at the expense of the natives.

Meaning of “Don’t Drink the Water”

After achieving success by driving out the natives or probably killing them as is depicted in the verses, the antagonists are apparently not even remorseful for this horrendous evil action. They seem to live just fine with themselves.

At the end of the song, the narrator warns his listeners not to drink the water from this land (America). And why? Because it is contaminated or rather made impure with blood of the innocent.

“There’s blood in the water
Don’t drink the water”


“Don’t Drink the Water” strongly criticizes and condemns Whites for coming to America and using violence to take over the lands of Native Americans. The Native Americans (also known as American Indians) were the real and original inhabitants of America. So to a significant degree, this can be classified as a protest song.

Facts about “Don’t Drink the Water”

Dave Matthews exclusively wrote both the lyrics and music whereas Steve Lillywhite handled the song’s entire production.

RCA Records released it in 1998. It was the first single that Dave Matthews Band released from their “Before These Crowded Streets” album. This album, which was the band’s third studio project, was a big hit as was its first single. For example, barely a week after the album’s release, it sold almost half a million units.  

Two famous American musicians appear on this track. The first is renowned banjo player Béla Fleck. The second is singer and songwriter Alanis Morissette. Alanis is known for such global hits as “Hand in My Pocket” and “Uninvited“.

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