Since 1996, a dreadful silence has gripped our nation’s backyards, which stand bereft of no smooth jams to barbecue and chill to. Fruitlessly, we have tried to fill that void with Dave Matthews—but while everyone agrees “Crash” is a total vibe song, sometimes he just gets a little too funky. Dave’s better for more of a party party, not a relaxed kick-back sesh. To no avail have we attempted to break our stillness with talk of golf, with discussion of our financial planning, with soft yet manful weeping. Still, nothing has worked. We have missed the Blowfish. Too long have we not Hootied.

But hark! What light rock through yonder dorm window breaks? It is the Hootie himself, Darius Rucker, and he brings glad tidings that the fish shall blow anew!

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“People still ask me if we’re getting back together, and we are,” Rucker told Today’s Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, and today’s people who are suddenly drunk themselves—on hope. “Hold my hand,” Rucker is saying to Hootie fans. “I want to love you the best that, the best that I can.”

“Hold my hand,” he repeats 25 times, occasionally rhyming it with “land.”

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Long have those followers lingered in the cracked rearview of Cracked Rear View, having only 1996’s Fairweather Johnson to alternate in their CD changers that they still use with that multi-platinum album. Meanwhile, Rucker has pursued a successful solo career as a country artist and chicken sandwich balladeer, all while Hootie fans waited patiently for the day he would put down his cowboy hat and put on another, different kind of hat. And now Rucker says their vigil may soon be over.

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“It’s just a matter of doing it at the right time,” Rucker says, ever one to keep things uncluttered by unnecessary details or complexity. Sometimes a promise is all you need, like a G chord and a heart.

But when will that “right time” be? When the blood rain touches the brim of our Gamecocks cap? When the boiling seas rise to meet the cuffs of our shorts? When you finally let her cry, let her sing, let her go, and if the sun comes up tomorrow, let her be? When a summer package tour with Gin Blossoms can be worked out? Regrettably, the answer is blowing in the fish.

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In the moment, we stand in the uncertain oblivion between knowing and unknowing, between past and future, between Hootie and Blowfish. And still we cry, “Ti-i-i-i-me, wahh yourgg punish me-e-e? Lack a wig crashin intooda shohhh-ah,” until our ragged throats can hoot no more.

Wahh yourgg punish me-e-e-e, Darius Rucker. Wahh yourgg punish me-e-e.

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