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DMB and Serendipity


dave & tim at Radio CityA young woman walks down the street looking for her lost dog and meets her future husband. A man walks into a bar to get a drink and leaves with a new job. A teenager joins a soccer team and finally finds a friend that shares her love for science fiction novels. All of these are examples of serendipity, which can be defined as uncovering something unexpected while searching for something else entirely. When serendipity bursts into your life, changes that you never saw coming are afoot. It is a process that cannot be controlled or predicted, only looked upon with wonder. Once you become aware of the power of serendipity, you may start noticing her magic emanating from every corner of your life. And nowhere is serendipity more evident than inside the creative process of the Dave Matthews Band.

When asked during a 60 Minutes interview whether Dave knew exactly what kind of sound he was orchestrating by bringing saxophone and violin elements into a rock band, he admitted that he had no idea what to expect. In the same interview, he concluded that once the band got into their groove it became apparent that something “larger than all of us” was at play. This is exactly how serendipity works. You take a step forward, and if your steps are in line with something bigger than yourself, then your path is illumined. The result is something even more amazing than your wildest imaginings. Of course, serendipity does not rest once she is put into play. With the creation of the band in place, serendipity moved on to touch countless individual performances. Remember how Dave was so amazed when he and Tim ended on the exact same note after “Old Dirt Hill” at Radio City Music Hall? He humbly told the crowd that he routinely changes the ending of that song, and how that particular performance marked the first synchronistic ending of that number to date. When musicians are so immersed in their creative process that the outcome of their efforts is a surprise, even to them, we know that what we are hearing is genuine soul-felt harmony.

Although we have only heard a few tracks from the new album, it is clear that serendipity has worked her way into “Big Whiskey” as well. In a recent interview with MTV, Dave and Carter discuss their amazement at how perfectly LeRoi's riffs fit on the latest recording. Dave talks specifically about a song that we have yet to hear, “Lying in the Hands of God,” where LeRoi's saxophone pieces were incorporated after Dave's portion of the tune was finished. According to Dave, the two fragments fit so tightly, that the work sounds like a duet. Dave points out that nothing was forced in adding LeRoi's contributions; that it all worked out naturally. That's the mark of serendipity. She doesn't stand behind just any venture, only those worthy of her mystery. Clearly, The Dave Matthews Band deserves such distinction. From their earliest days, this band has enjoyed a beautiful and strange ride; one that has uplifted fans, and made a celebrated ripple in the musical wave of the Universe.

Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.

Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self