They say it takes a village to raise a child. Thanks to the support and encouragement of everyone involved, the youngster grows into a confident, secure adult, ready to take on the world. Well, the same can be said of a creating a new record. Birthed and developed with loving hands, the album makes its way into the good graces of fans. As we're all basking in the splendor of the finished product, let's take a moment to honor the process that made “Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King” a reality.
There is no doubt that this album is reminiscent of old school Dave Matthews Band. There is a distinctly unique feel evident in the band's first four albums, “Remember Two Things,” “Under the Table and Dreaming,” “Crash,” and “Before These Crowded Streets.” Many fans felt that the band lost their way with “Everyday” and “Stand Up,” as the characteristic DMB essence seemed to have changed somehow. Now that the old DMB spirit has returned for “Big Whiskey,” we can clearly see what has been missing.
In the band's documentary, “Scenes from Big Whiskey,” Dave, Carter, Boyd, and Stephan, all describe the way that the album was made. Although they each use their own words, the message is the same. This production is the first one since the old days, where every member of the group had a clear voice. Working with producer, Rob Cavallo, each musician was encouraged to spontaneously add their own elements, which combined to generate a spectacular energy. Boyd describes the technique as creating “things from the ground up.” Dave remembers going into the studio where he, or another member of the group, would “just start playing” tunes organically and everyone would join in the search for a “really honest, spontaneous, song idea.” It reminds me of how the band performs “Recently,” where each player blasts through a solo before uniting the sounds together in perfect harmony.
Working as a collective is categorically more powerful than working as individuals. This is true for everything from making music to creating world peace. In a ground-breaking study by the Rand Institute, groups of 7000 people meditated on three different occasions, twice in the United States and once in Holland, during 1983-1995. Each time these groups were formed, they meditated from 8 to 11 days. The study found that five days of group meditation significantly decreased both terrorist activities and international warfare in ways that could not be explained by other factors. Group efforts are that persuasive. Similarly, in working with dreams, I have found that participating in a dream group can assist individuals in finding insight into the meaning of dreams, even when their own efforts at analysis have left them in a cloud of mystery for years. There is a universal paradigm shift occurring where we are learning that unless we operate as a collective, we will not prosper. It is not us against them; we are “them.” Dave alluded to this in Live at Radio City when discussing the war in Iraq he said, “This really is a time when we need to try and figure out a way to get it together with each other, you know, because we can't figure things out if we just turn our backs on each other.” Judging by the collaborative feel of the new album, it's safe to say that the Dave Matthews Band has successfully shifted their way of working to honor each participant's unparalleled and stunning gifts and abilities. What a beautiful example for the rest of the world to follow.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self