“I’m a man of the pen more than gun…I can do some serious damage with a pen though.”—Dave Matthews
I first experienced the summer with Dave Matthews in 1994 thanks to the infinite foresight of my younger brother Wes, who purchased Remember Two Things from a record store in Bloomington, Indiana where we attended soccer camp religiously every year. I had no idea who I was listening to that day would so dramatically influence and shape the person I am today. I will always be eternally grateful for the life lessons he has taught me through his music and example of what it means to be a decent human being. Most people have an artist or band that shapes their perspectives during the adolescence to adulthood transition often becoming the soundtrack of their lives. For me, that was Dave and the number of live shows I have caught just validates an obsession that started at 13 during that seven-hour ride home to Michigan from IU. Running back The Song That Jane Likes over and over on my shitty discman not fully understanding the magnetic draw of this music but thoroughly enjoying the process of trying to figure it out.
Born in Joburg, he was raised in various parts of the world before ultimately matriculating to Virginia is the short story of his upbringing. The complexity and depth of his songwriting originated from experiences of both love and sorrow. The sudden loss of his father and then sister before the age of thirty has had a profound effect on the way he views this world, always with a sense of humor, even when it feels like it’s ending. The combination of his unwavering optimism, drive and limitless talent turned a cult following into a revolution of millions. He tours with the same ferocity as back in the beginning when he was playing bars and college campuses, his timeless scream echoing off stadiums all over America every summer with the same intensity it always has for the last three decades. I think when Matthews screams a big part of me and anyone else who loves him is screaming with him, on the surface and underneath.
As his success grew, he continued to do things his way both creatively and personally, forgoing the typical rockstar mentality and instead becoming a beacon of hope for the people who needed it most. Through the years the good deeds of Dave have rippled through this planet like rays of sun through a dark keyhole. Whether donating millions to children’s hospitals or helping stranded motorists, his random tales of philanthropy and generosity are as infamous as his guitar playing ability and often the uplifting anecdote of an in-need strangers dinner table. Fans use setlists as Rorschach tests, diagnosing a person’s emotional IQ depth with flawless accuracy based on song choice alone.
Understanding the gift of storytelling he was blessed with and the dramatic, positive effect it had on others allowed him to conquer his own anxieties, fears and demons. Never has someone had so much fame and fortune without any detectable ego, he is soft spoken, gracious, funny, beautifully weird and fearless. Always.
As I get older, Dave gets wiser. The lyrics mean more now than they ever have, not to mention the brilliant ramblings of his inner thoughts in between songs after a few bourbons. Insightful perceptions from the worlds most talented self-deprecating man are highlighted with pearls of philosophy on love, loss and why we are all here. He has been the security blanket through all the joy, pain, sadness, and healing of my life. Watching him this past week in Tampa reminded me of how much it all still means, his voice still endless as the summer we all remember.
“I’m kind of a hopeful guy. What you gotta do with all the trouble in the world…the first thing you gotta do is be hopeful. The second thing you gotta do is say what you think.”—Dave Matthews
The Tao of Dave
Recently, in year #41 of my life, memories of tripping billies and chasing satellites exist in the spaces between. I have marched with ants while making the best of what was around. Said good-bye with so much left to say. Drove in and out of the dreams of my father. Had bartenders pour drinks when I was on grey street and a jimi thing has always kept me swinging. Tried my best to understand the rhyme and reason of it all, but you pay for what you get. So, when it’s the last stop and the world is ending, I know where I’m going. You can find me at the warehouse, dancing with Nancy. Everyday.—boone sturt.
Tripping Berries: Cool-Whip, Mint and Mixed Berries