This week, the Dave Matthews Band revealed the complete “Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King” album cover. After much anticipation, we now have all 9 pieces of the puzzle including 8 individual images, along with a ninth drawing which integrates the works into a complete portrait. In two previous articles, we have explored the symbolism behind pictures 1-3, and 4-6, respectively. This article will focus on pictures 7-8, before taking a look at the final gestalt. The fact that the band released the images in such a unique way, has certainly given us an opportunity to delve deeply into the many layers of interpretation. And now that the final image is on display, we have an even clearer view of the artworks' intended meaning. It occurs to me that the album will provide a similar experience, in that we will be treated to each musician's contribution both individually, and completely, as a unit.
In picture 7, we have 2 white horses pulling a cart. Their feet are in the mud, which could symbolize either being stuck or laboring with much effort. They are also wearing blinders, which is customary for these types of working horses, but it can also point to the enduring focus that the band may have needed in order to complete this album.
In picture 8, we have a banner with the album title and a gold crown. The banner is ripped on one side and the crown is missing a piece. Both of these imperfections are very likely references to the loss of LeRoi Moore. Many of the previous pictures have displayed themes of loss and sorrow in relation to Moore's absence, and this one seems to be a continuation of that same theme.
The final picture puts all of the previous pieces together to form an amazing representation of a New Orleans street scene. In keeping with the aforementioned theme of life/death and celebration/grief
it can be noted that while this parade has many characteristics of Mardi Gras festivities, it also has some similarities to this image of a New Orleans funeral, which was discovered on a website that makes Mardi Gras masks.
Brilliantly, the one image that we were not shown beforehand is the sketch of LeRoi's face. He is crying and his mouth is open, much like we saw with the polar bear from picture 5. There is no doubt that LeRoi is the King. His picture is being carried through the streets of New Orleans, much like his spirit is being carried on the wings of this album.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self