Funny how history repeats itself. In 1995, while watching a late-night talk show, I fell in "love at first note," with the sound of a quirky and adorable singer/songwriter from South Africa. Seventeen years later, having evolved synchronistically with the music, it happened to me all over again.
Last night, Dave Matthews appeared on the Jimmy Fallon show to give fans a taste of DMB's new album. Dave performed an acoustic version of a song called "Mercy," with the help of the amazing guitarist, Captain Kirk, of "The Roots."
It is always exciting to hear something new from your favorite artist. But, to me, "Mercy" is more than just a new track, because she speaks volumes about the current state of the world, and what we must do in order for healing to occur. I love the fact that this tune was chosen to be played while Dave was appearing on the same show as President Obama, as I believe it is a direct call, to all of us, for action.
If you look up the word, "Mercy" in the dictionary, you will find that it means, "compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence." To have mercy on someone, is to forgive them of their transgressions, without taking revenge. It is an act of kindness or understanding. It is an act of peace.
The lyrics to "Mercy" are heartbreakingly beautiful. Here is a sample of Dave's searing words:
Stand up for what we need to be
Cause crying won't save or feed a hungry child
Can't lay down and hope a miracle will change things
So lift up your eyes, lift up your heart, singing
Mercy will we overcome this
One by one could we turn it around
Maybe carry on just a little bit longer
And I'll try to give you what you need
In the song, Dave urges us to take responsibility for what has become of the world, and to recognize our power to change it. He speaks of the need for us to come together, " 'til there is no reason to fight."
One thing that strikes me so strongly about this song is the high octave in which it was played. Granted, Steve Lillywhite has tweeted that this track will sound different full band, but, at least for this performance, it sounded decidedly feminine to me, which makes perfect sense considering it's message. Many thinkers, including myself, believe that part of the imbalance in the world today comes from our heavy slant toward traditionally masculine ways of solving problems, (i.e. through war, dominance, and power over others). To cultivate the traditionally feminine traits of mercy, compassion, and tolerance is exactly what we need.
Literally, every word of this song cuts straight to the core. But, by far, my favorite line says,
Love is not a whisper
or a weakness
Love is strong
Love is stronger than violence. Only love can cut through hate, and hate's instigator, fear. And, only love can put the hope back in our minds.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.