For the last couple of weeks, I have been digesting "Away From The World." I haven't said too much about it, because I wanted to let some ideas marinate in my mind. Now that my thoughts are fully cooked, I can honestly say that this is my favorite DMB album since "Before These Crowded Streets." In fact, I can't get enough of the funkiness of "Belly Belly Nice," the serenity of "Mercy," the sweet surrender throughout "Broken Things," or the rare luminosity of "Drunken Soldier." And don't get me started on the simplicity of "Belly Full," the compassion behind, "Sweet," the hopeful loneliness permeating, "The Riff," or the life force around, "Gaucho." And did I mention that I just want to tuck myself inside "Snow Outside," and melt there until Spring?
It's true. Now, I'm sure all of you astute readers will recognize the absence of two songs; "If Only," and "Rooftop." Not to worry, explanations to follow. For some reason which I don't fully understand, I just can't get into "If Only." I think I may be the minority on this, as I believe some find this to be as close to old-school-DMB as we are going to get. But that's the beauty of music. It hits different people in different ways. Maybe I'm just not ready for it, maybe it will blow me away in five years, or maybe it's just not for me. It's okay, it was meant to be that way.
"Rooftop," on the other hand, was a complete mystery to me the first several times that I heard it. It was hitting me, I just couldn't figure out how, until I found the answer, on Facebook, of all places. I stumbled upon a comment by someone explaining his take on the track, and suddenly it all fell into place. If what follows sounds familiar to you, thank you for enlightening me!
The idea that I came across was that "Rooftop" was an autobiographical song, of sorts, for Dave. And that in this story, Dave is explaining what it's like to be at the top, having so far to fall, and not being able to control what audiences think of his work. Wow! Now that I listen to the song with this in mind it all makes sense.
To take it a little further, we could look at the "Rooftop" as a metaphor for the stage, or for this advanced point in Dave's career, where he has certainly made a name for himself. But as we know, it's lonely at the top. The words,
"If I was a winner, I'd cut the cards and deal them
buy a great big house where
we could disappear
find yourself a sweet spot
people wanna get some
you're just another dead man
tryin' to fool the world"
Could give us some insight into what it's like to be a veteran rock-star. Maybe a simpler man would have stopped while he was ahead, counted his riches, and disappeared. But apparently, that's not enough for Dave. Music and performing is in his soul, it's what keeps him connected, and still, he recognizes that all good things come to an end sometimes.
Of course, we can't be sure if this is what Dave had in mind when he wrote this song. But I'm going to go with it, because it makes me feel like Dave is a kindred spirit, who, like many of us, just wants to catch the eyes of the world.