This may come as a shock to some of you, but lately I've been doing a lot of thinking: about Dave Matthews. And not just for the obvious reason that I can almost always hear a DMB song playing in my head. Nor for the even more obvious reason that I have a continual countdown running in my brain until my next live show. The reason that I've been thinking so much about Dave recently is because I think he's an excellent example of the power of creativity, and the sometimes fine line between creativity and madness.
We've all witnessed the fruits of Dave's imagination evident in his ability to write songs and play music, both of which are amazing contributions to the musical milieu. But what I find even more phenomenal, is the way that he dabbles in other mediums with such apparent ease. Musically, he's experimented with other genres, collaborating with Jurrasic 5 on the hip hop song “Work it Out,” and Kenny Chesney on the country song, “I'm Alive.” But for this creative, even the world of music is too small. It seems that Dave has long had an interest in the visual arts as well. On the Live at Radio City bonus track from a March 2nd 2007 version of “The Stone,” performed in Oxford, England, Dave says, “So I was looking through this old book of mine, all the drawings and, of headless people and sad bastards. I don't know, I was 15 or something. I was like, 'what the hell was this guy's problem?' Some of the drawings were pretty cool though. A little bit simple maybe. I think some were black and white.” Long time fans have also reported that he characteristically added a little doodle whenever he was asked for an autograph. And of course, we're all familiar with his recent artwork which will grace the cover of the new album, “Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King.” Dave has also shown us his dexterity on the small screen, playing a musical savant on “House,” and on the big screen in the movies, “Because of Winn Dixie,” and “Lake City.” There is also speculation that Dave will both co-star, and write and perform original music, in an upcoming movie, “The Other Side,” also starring Lindsay Lohan, Woody Harrelson, and Alanis Morrisette.
Zen teacher Katagiri Roshi said, “Poor artists. They suffer very much. They finish a masterpiece and they are not satisfied. They want to go on and do another.” This is the very essence of creativity. It is alive in the moment. The act of writing, acting, drawing, singing, or any other expressive endeavor is the payoff. It isn't about what happens to the work once it leaves the artist's psyche. It is about how the process of generating art soothes, heals, and transforms the soul of the originator. This is why those with a stifled creative inside often turn to alcohol, drugs, or other addictions to mask the pain of not creating. This explains our culture's obsession with money and material things that never seem to be enough no matter how much we consume. When the soul's need to create is repressed, the ego will find something external to fill the void. For this reason, whenever I hear of a new project that Dave is working on, I feel relief, because I know that he is attending to his visionary spirit and keeping his soul balanced; a gift to those of us who will hear his heart-felt joy emanating from every note he sings onstage.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self