Dave Matthews may be unsure about the existence of God, but there's one universal entity that he truly believes in. Love. For every deep, dark, and searching lyric, outlining Matthew's profound uncertainty in an all-knowing being, there is an equally deep, but light and promising phrase, describing love as a power greater than all of us. Dave subscribes to the belief that this unifying emotion can heal our wounds and bring us together in a transformative way. And because we all come equipped with the capacity to love, we need search no further than ourselves to experience that which transcends us all. What a stunning paradox.
There are so many DMB melodies that mention love that it would be overwhelming to try and list them all here. Instead, I'll just point out some of my favorites like: “Love baby!” from “Granny,” “Just look for the love in here,” in “Pig,” and “Why in all this hatred do you fill me up with love, love, love” as sung in “Christmas Song.” Part of what I find so refreshing about the band's approach to this intense feeling is the fact that it is not all about romanticism. Of course, we have our share of couple's tenderness in sweet songs like “Crush,” “When the World Ends,” and “Spaceman,” but unlike many musicians, and much of Western media in general, Dave understands that there is another, all-encompassing form of caring that can exist between all people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, or any other dividing characteristic. It is this kind of love that is hailed in the “What is God but love?” of “Bartender,” and “I believe it's love that we all need, more than anything above us,” from certain versions of “Granny.” In fact, we could even say that Dave has come to view this genre of intimacy as the antidote to some of the world's biggest problems.
In the recent release, “Lying in the Hands of God,” Matthews seems to choose love over organized religion when he says, “Save your sermons, for someone that's afraid to love. I'll be right here lying in the hands of God,” perhaps symbolizing a higher trust in true affection than in anything that could be taught by man. It's interesting because while Dave shows a genuine faith in our ability as humans to bring forth a power from within to overcome adversity, he has a marked mistrust for those that would propose to show us the way. We saw this same motif in “Eh-hee,” when he said “Hide when there's someone that's trying to convince you that they know the answer, no matter the question. Be wary of those who believe in a neat little world.” Some writers have suggested that Dave's skepticism stems from living parts of his childhood in South Africa, where he witnessed social injustices, most notably under apartheid. It's likely that many factors have contributed to Dave's current perception of global events, and as fans, I believe we benefit from the message to go within and value our own intuition over another's advice. Especially, when we shower our inner search and those around us with love.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self