Few people in this life attain rock-star status. Even fewer hold on to that title for twenty plus years. And only one, that I know of, has done this while maintaining a Buddha like humility about his success. In a recent article with the Denver Post, Dave Matthews was quoted saying, “The part that I do is to be terrified of not doing my best and having a right measure of shame and a right measure of good fortune...I can’t just go out there and sing my songs because people can hear that on the radio. People want to come and be transported and I also want to be transported.” In other words, Dave refuses to merely sit pretty on a bed of riches. It is not enough for him to have made it to the top, because from there it is a long way to fall. Instead, he offers himself completely to every show, knowing that each performance is another opportunity to create magic and change lives.
There is profound mysticism in this approach. It is parallel to the path of spiritual enlightenment, which is not linear, but circular. We do not arrive at awakening, take off our shoes, have a glass of wine, and sink into the tub. Rather, each moment becomes a chance to either open the heart further and more fully, or to close up and tune out. Surely, both opening, and closing, expanding, and contracting, are integral parts of this work, and yet, it is those times when the stars seem to align in our favor that we may feel the most free. And that is exactly what multitudes of fans feel in Dave’s presence.
That same Post article, which mostly discussed DMB’s essential role at this year’s Mile High Music Festival, questioned whether Dave could be the “Rock Messiah.” I don’t know what we want to label it, (although that is catchy!), but I do believe that thousands and thousands of followers, some of whom may be disillusioned with the black and white qualities of most traditional religions, find that they can truly be themselves with Dave’s music streaming between their ears. Whether we are at a concert, or running a crooked mile with our ipods, it is the lyrics and rhythm of this band that keep many of us afloat. And Dave knows this. It seems to be the main reason that he does what he does. Certainly, it’s not for the money. In fact, he even spoke about how “ridiculous” it is that he gets paid as well as he does. But instead of becoming angry and rebelling against his own talent, which would be a true loss for us all, he has humbly accepted his position. Indeed, it is exceedingly rare, and a true inspiration, to find a person who has grasped that level of material wealth while holding on to a sense of equanimity. It’s enough to have us believing that “maybe, all the cure is lying in the heart.”
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self