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Contrary to the famous phrase from "Watchtower," there are many reasons to get excited, especially if you are a Dave Matthews Band fan! We are part way through the summer tour, having seen some amazing sets with more to come, and we are only 8 weeks away from a brand new record. "Away From the World," the Dave Matthew's Band's 8th studio album is set to be released on Tuesday, September 11th, a conspicuous release date, which isn't altogether surprising considering the themes present in some of the new songs. At this point, before tonight's show, 6 of the 11 new tracks have been played live, including "Belly Belly Nice," "Mercy," "Gaucho," "Sweet," "The Riff," and "If Only," while "Mercy" has also enjoyed a studio release. It is yet to be seen whether the other 5 numbers will be played before the official birth of this CD.

Both the title and the release date of this new project seem to speak to some larger themes inherent in the music. Although we have not been privy to all of the young songs, at least "Mercy" and "Gaucho," contain lyrics regarding the need for some kind of change in the world. While "Gaucho," insists that we must "do more than believe if we really want to change things," "Mercy" calls for, well, mercy toward one another in these tumultuous times. Both songs ask individuals to take responsibility, and as Ghandi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Yet, as proactive as these lyrics are, the recent album art that was revealed earlier this week exudes a definite sense of hopelessness. The cover, drawn by Dave, shows a grid with 9 cubes separated by thin lines. Within each cube is a naked person with a marked expression on his or her face. None of the people look very comfortable in their boxes, and, in fact, most everyone looks either angry, anxious, scared, or depressed. Then again, that is how I usually feel if I dare to watch the news.

It is likely that each person in the drawing somehow relates to one or more lyrics on the new album. One woman, for example, looks pregnant, and I imagine that she may represent the song "Belly Full." But what else was Dave trying to say with these images? Of course, I can only speculate, and project, but it seems important that each person appears stuck in his or her own little cage. There is no connection between people, which, as we know, only exacerbates problems. Road rage is a good example of how people's hostility toward one another grows when we are isolated. And in this age of technological and scientific advances, it does seem that people feel more alone than ever before. If we were to look at Dave's art like we would a dream, then we could also imagine that each picture represents a part of the self, and again, we would note the disconnection of the various parts, which symbolizes dis-ease.

Perhaps Dave is calling for us to wake up, and realize that many of us are in the same boat, and that if we just peer across the thin lines that separate us, that new connections can be made. Although many of us have been wounded in various ways, it is possible for us to use our experiences as fuel for healing. As Rumi said, "The Wound is the Place Where Light Enters You." Maybe ending violence, hatred, wars, and bigotry starts with coming together and letting that light shine. 

Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.