Last night, in Aurora, Colorado, Dave Matthews performed a five song concert at a rally supporting the re-election of President Barack Obama. Dave deems himself a "blazing liberal," and has backed up other Democratic causes in the past, including the 2004 Vote For Change Tour. As DJM mentions in a recent "Rolling Stone" interview, he doesn't agree with everything that the President has done, but he finds himself in closer alignment with Obama than "that other fella."
A look at last night's set-list gives us insight into some of the issues that Dave finds important in this election. Sure, you may say I am reading too much into the meaning behind these songs, but, I'm a psychologist, that's what I do. And, yes, you may find a Democratic slant in my interpretations. To that I say two things. First, I am human, and like many of you, I have found myself wrapped up in the emotions of this election. And second, Dave is voting for Obama. So there.
Okay, so let's look at the songs, shall we?
"Take Me To Tomorrow" - This tune is the title track from John Denver's second album, released in 1970. To me, the title of this one says it all. The President's message is to move "Forward," and "Take Me To Tomorrow" seems to suggest a movement in that direction.
"Funny The Way It Is"- I love that Dave chose this number. "Funny" was the first single released from "Big Whiskey and The Groogrux King," and it is largely about the imbalances in life. With lyrics like, "Somebody's going hungry, someone else is eating out," I think Dave is calling attention to the huge discrepancy between social classes in America. In the song, Dave doesn't provide a solution, just points out the ironies, to raise our awareness.
"Mercy"- The next two choices, to me, present the solutions to the previous observations. "Mercy", the first single off the new album "Away From The World," speaks of the great need for us all to increase our level of compassion toward one another. The epic line, "Love is not a whisper or a weakness," shows the way. It is not through force or violence that healing will occur. Love is stronger than fear, and it will prevail. Negotiations, not war; looking out for each other, not greed is the answer.
"You and Me"- This track, off "Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King," has long been thought to have been written with the President's "Yes We Can" slogan in mind. The idea that "You and me, we can do anything, yes, yes," is the key. Again, the philosophy is working together toward a common goal. Hopefully, no matter who wins tomorrow, we can all put our preferences aside and take Dave's advice here.
"Don't Drink The Water"- The final song, another first single, off "Before These Crowded Streets," is historically a re-work of "Leave Me Praying." DDTW is a politically charged song detailing the destruction and greed caused by Western explorers to Native Americans and their land. To me, this is a plea from Dave for us to learn from our mistakes. We cannot thrive by disrespecting the environment, and those that came before us. The lyrics, "Not room for both, just room for me," describe a self-centered approach that, once again, does not work for the common good.
So, if you haven't already. Go vote! Many important issues are at stake. Besides, Dave would want you to. And no matter the results, after the election, may we all remember that, "If kindness is your king, then heaven will be yours, before you reach your end."