Last night, I watched a fantastic documentary called “Music,” in which over 50 musicians from various genres discussed the subtle idiosyncrasies of their field. Bands such as Smashing Pumpkins, My Morning Jacket, Vampire Weekend, and Death Cab for Cutie were all represented, as well as, appearances from artists like Ani DiFranco, Lenny Kravitz, Ziggy Marley, Chrissie Hynde, Iggy Pop, and Fiona Apple.
The film focuses on many untouchable aspects of this art, including that uniquely spiritual place where music often leaves the unsuspecting listener. Almost all of the creatives interviewed agree that they provide portals to an ongoing and everlasting stream of sound that exists outside, in the Universe, and that their best work is done when they remember to get out of their own way. In other words, after intense devotion to learning and practice, the ideal output only comes when one separates from her ego, and is open to the flow of energy that comes through organically. What a modest thought, and it is, I believe, not only the cornerstone of all great art, but also, the way in which Dave Matthews approaches his work. With Dave, there is a clear understanding that each song takes on a life of it’s own, which transcends the existence of the writer. Recently, I heard one of my favorite versions of #40, after which Dave says, “I keep working on it, hoping it will come back. This is my first most recent draft. Thank you for indulging me.” What a great acknowledgment, indicating that this track will only return as she so desires. Dave truly is a humble monkey.
Another point of consensus among the performers in the broadcast is that music is indescribable. After much thought, rock icon, Iggy Pop, finally named it as an activity that requires less concentration than reading a dense piece of literature, but more involvement than watching television or a movie. Similarly, Fiona Apple characterized it as an entity that falls somewhere between a conversation and sex, meaning that there is a level of engagement, an intimacy, and a knowing of each-other that exists someplace between conventional lines. And isn’t that how much of music is written? Between the lines?
Of course, this reminds me of Dave’s lyrics in “The Space Between,” where he points to the gaps inside of things like tears, lies, bullets, and smiles, within which he promises to wait and hide. But probably my favorite line from this piece reads, “The space between, your heart and mine, is the space we’ll fill with time.” Interestingly, DMB almanac has these words listed as “The space between your heart and mind,” which is equally insightful, but I’ve always considered Dave to be speaking of that luminous divide that exists where one person ends and another one begins. This is the place of communication, connection, and relationship where love adamantly finds her way. Just as the internal chambers of our own hearts are filled with meandering pathways, so are the spaces between loved ones. And within these sacred cavities, music lives and breathes. Always.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self