Just the other day, someone asked me to name my favorite Dave Matthews Band song. In truth, I have a love/hate relationship with this question. I love it because it gets me thinking about all of the amazing qualities of tunes like “Bartender,” “Seek Up,” “One Sweet World,” “Pig,” “#41,” “Lover Lay Down,” and “Two Step,” to name a few. But I hate it because it is nearly impossible for me to choose only one track. Many times, I reconcile my differing thoughts by finding the best option for my life at the moment, which in itself points to one reason why I love this band so much; their ever evolving, yet somehow consistent sound. But today, after much thought, I realized that of all the DMB works that I adore, “Granny,” is, and in some ways always has been, my best-loved.
And speaking of Love, that’s what “Granny” is all about. While the upbeat rhythm, wonderfully showcases Carter’s insane skills, for me what truly draws me in are the lyrics. Of course, the words change from version to version, but still the message remains the same. When I hear words like, “Love, will grow you know, like fire spreads, I swear it will,” and “its up to us to bring it to the light,” I feel like my entire approach to living this thing that we call life has been explained. Dave talks about the courage that it takes to give in a world where sometimes Love can be hiding in the shadows. But still, he believes that underneath it all, behind our clouded eyes, Love shines. To me this is responsible optimism; that is, a glass-half-full outlook that does not undermine each person’s power to bring light out of darkness.
But what about those times when darkness seems to prevail? We all know that bad things happen to good people, and it’s during these times of pain and suffering that it’s natural to question whether Love makes any difference at all. Why would we risk having our hearts shattered into “a thousand pieces dashed” when doing so doesn’t provide a fool-proof safeguard from unbearable loss? In fact, sometimes it seems that opening ourselves up to Love makes us even more vulnerable to piercing emotions during times of stress.
These are huge questions, and even with the inspiring verses of Dave to help me, I don’t pretend to have many answers. But I do have thoughts, and what I think is that everyone comes to enlightenment, or personal growth, in his/her own way. For some people it is their positive experiences that bring them into contact with a higher-self, while for others, true connection is felt as a result of their most hurtful sorrows. While none of us enjoy the difficult times, we can’t deny that there is something about hardship that changes our perspective, and in some cases, softens our defenses to make room for a more compassionate way of being. Hopefully, looking at despair in this way, encourages even the most fearful among us, to trust with wild abandon, blindly throwing our faith to the next good thing that comes our way.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self