In honor of John Lennon's birthday, we are re-posting this article. He would have been 72 today. Thank you, John, for your outstanding music, and your eternal messages of peace and love. Your candle burned out long before your legend ever did.
Originally posted December 1st, 2011
The other day, I came across an incredibly movingYouTube videoof Dave Matthews singing “Watching the Wheels,” a song originally released by John Lennon and Yoko Ono on their 1980 record, “Double Fantasy.” Dave’s performance of this tune was broadcast on December, 8th, 2005, by a Sirius Satellite radio station, as a tribute to John Lennon’s life.
As soon as as I saw the clip, I knew that I would need to write an article about it. But for a moment, I hesitated, worried that my frequent choice of cover-songs, as of late, could indicate some sort of growing distance between me and DMB. Was I running out of things to say about their original work? As distasteful as that thought might be, I had to let it play out in my mind, in order to loosen it’s grip on my psyche. And, as so often is the case when we face our doubts, what I found, was just the opposite of what I feared. What’s happening, it seems, is that tracks that I may have heard thousands of times before take on a whole new meaning for me, once I experience Dave’s version of them. His voice resonates with me, and, surely, millions of others, in such a powerful way that new connections form in the shadowy synapses of our brains, making once hollow words sound like deeply profound phrases.
On a bio-chemical level, I’m really not sure if there would be any evidence to support the validity of what I’m saying. But on an anecdotal level, I can attest to having an unremarkable reaction to various lyrics, only to have the wind knocked out of me after hearing Dave sing those same verses. It may simply be that Dave’s voice triggers a relaxation response in my brain, making me more susceptible to important insights. Or, it could be that he is magic.
In any event, when I heard Dave’s rendition of “Watching the Wheels,” the lyrics, “I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round. I really love to watch them roll. No longer riding on the merry-go-round. I just had to let it go,” suddenly clicked for me in a very poignant way. Although everyone can, of course, read in what they are needing to, for me this signifies the refusal to stay on the hectic rat-wheel that life in our society often prescribes. Too often, work, for the sole purpose of making more and more money, becomes the driving force behind our existence, and before we know it, these short lives of ours are coming to an end. As if to support this idea, the images in this beautiful montage feature both Dave Matthews and John Lennon with their beloved family members, reminding us of what is truly important. And too, we are taken back to LeRoi Moore’s tragic death, as a solemn depiction of our fragile states. Dave also introduces this number with a remark about the synchronicity between the debut of this melody and John Lennon’s death, which I believe, further testifies to the idea that these verses call for priority to be placed on love of life, rather than externally derived measures of success.
If I were born of a different time, perhaps the tenor notes of John Braham or the genius strokes of Niccolo Paganini’s violin would be the instruments that make my soul soar. But, as it were, only the penetrating sounds of Dave’s voice invariably shake up my bones and feet, leaving me right here, lying in the hands of God.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author ofSerendipity and the Search for True Self