Every year, my Gorge envy gets worse, and this year is no exception. Arguably the best Dave Matthews Band venue, this outdoor arena draws somewhere around 30,000 fans for a three day festival of fresh air, spectacular music, starry nights, and a much-needed chance to commune with new and old friends alike. Looking over the set-lists from last weekend, I am astounded at the variety that Gorge-goers enjoyed, and I can just imagine the energy that the band poured into each performance. Anything goes at this amphitheater, which may explain how rarities like “Loving Wings,” “Fool to Think,” and “Sleep to Dream Her,” hit the stage. But what really tickles my jealousy bone is the idea of a “Last Stop” into “Dreaming Tree” intro on the first night of the series.
“The Last Stop,” off the album Before These Crowded Streets, has an interesting history, in that it was played regularly in 1998, but, at most, thirteen times in one year since then. Several tours omitted this tune altogether, while 2009 saw only two teases of this number. But it isn’t just the scarcity of this high energy ode to peace that makes it so inviting. Also called “Black and White,” or “Egyptian,” for it’s worldly sounding riffs, “The Last Stop,” speaks to the hypocrisy of rigidity and fundamentalism fought in the name of a cease-fire. The lyrics, “Fools are we, if hate’s the gate to peace. Well, I don’t fall for that,” pretty clearly denounce the use of violence to promote harmony.
Part of what is so fascinating about this message is that it’s relevance today is just as profound as it was twelve years ago when the track first hit the live circuit. Just this week, news has surfaced about a Florida minister who is planning a Koran burning protest for this weekend. Despite pleas from President Obama, it looks as if Rev. Terry Jones will not cancel the event. I feel that this is exactly the type of righteousness that Dave had in mind when he sang, “Go ahead and dream. Go ahead believe that you are the chosen one.” It is so sad when “spiritual leaders” go astray. Thinking that they are doing what is right for their community, they all too often choose to place blame and judgement on members of other religions. In the name of God, they do, or propose to act, in ways that will ultimately separate them from their connection to the Divine. And yet, what is being asked of us at this time is to have compassion for all beings, even this fallacious clergyman. Although it’s hard to believe, even he is doing the best that he can. I’m not saying that there is no place for our anger towards this man. I’ll be the first to admit that hating him is quite a tempting proposition. But if we allow ourselves to get drawn into his vortex of intolerance, our chances to heal are imprisoned, and the collective gets weighed down by the heaviness, when, in truth, “the world is not so black and white.”
All it takes is one of us to melt his or her anger into compassion, and the entire planet feels the effects. Just as 25,000 glow-sticks make one light, we are all one. One love, one light.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self