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Shake Off The Dust, Shake Off The Fear


Today is a very bittersweet day. On the one hand, it's the anniversary of the largest terrorist attack the United States has ever seen, but, on the other hand, it's also the day that the Dave Matthews Band released their 8th studio album. It seems somewhat inappropriate to even include those two events in the same sentence, as if the release of a new record could have the same magnitude as the horrific loss of lives on September 11th, 2001. And still, in a very respectful way, this is exactly what I am saying. That music is that powerful.

I've thought a lot about why DMB would mark this day as their official release date. One idea is that Dave and the boys wanted to give us something to celebrate on a day that represents such a great tragedy. And while I think this is true, I think a greater significance can also be gleamed from DMB's decision. And that is, that life is very complex. Things are not black and white. One day, one month, one year, or, especially, one person, cannot always be categorized under a single label. We saw Dave starting to dabble amongst these seemingly paradoxical ideas in the "Big Whiskey" single "Funny The Way It Is," where he describes multiple events that take on very different meanings depending on context.

"Bomb blast brings the building,

crashing to the floor,

hear the laughter,

while the children play war.

Funny the way it is,

If you think about it,

One kid walks ten miles to school,

Another's droppin' out. 

Funny the way it is,

Not right or wrong,

A soldier's last breath,

His baby's being born."

It is, I think, with that same multi-dimensional way of thinking that the Dave Matthews Band gave birth to "Away From The World," on a day where many people might be tempted to try and escape the past. But even the past is not straightforward. Alongside the stories of death, loss, and trauma, are stories of hope and love. Stories of strangers, in a city where people are accustomed to walking past each-other without a glance, risking their lives to help their neighbors. Indeed, it is a Universal truth that extreme energies can also bring out their opposites. On a day of unfathomable malevolence, we also saw the unbreakable resilience of the human spirit.

To me, "Away From The World," is a commentary on the latter. It is a reminder of our individual responsibility to make this planet more peaceful. From the underlying compassion in the words, "You know the feeling when you're in too deep," of "Sweet," to the assertion that "Love is not a whisper or a weakness," in "Mercy," we can hear Dave calling us to bring our best selves to a world who has seen her share of hardship. What would the world be like if we all vowed to make each other's belly's full as suggested in "Belly Full?" What if, as mentioned in "The Riff," we stopped staring at the tv set, like we had "dreams to kill and people to forget?"  

Music fills the soul with sounds as sweet as candy. But good music, inspires us to be the people our pets think we are. Loving, compassionate, respectful, and mindful that we really can do anything under the stars.

Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.