Dave Matthews, prodigiously talented and prolific, a true minstrel of our times writing soulful, often doleful songs of our everyday experiences. Transcendent, luminescent, playful. His live performances bring together extraordinary musicians with nary a glorious note misplayed or misplaced. And at the center mic, leaving no doubt as to the driving force of the band’s epic noise, is the vibrant, passionate often jubilant and always generous Dave Matthews, a man and artist of grace. I’m more than a little overdue in dedicating a post to him.
Grace is a word that has been coming up in my life lately. It is among my favourite words, useful for aesthetic, spiritual, emotional, personal and even social meanings. When I hear the word, though, or speak, read, think or write it, the sense that nearly always accompanies it is of divinity, the divine. Divine grace, so-to-speak, though it seems the pairing is but a repetition. When we walk through this life with grace and dignity, we do so with bouyancy in our step…bliss courses through us.
Dave Matthews understands grace, and the loss of it. On the surface, this is a song about the debilitating ache of lost love. But that’s a bit of a cover. Apparently he introduced Grace is Gone this way at a live performance…
Dave’s a good ‘ol boy of the bayou country who’s lost his beloved step father. Perhaps he felt for him the kind of love that’s not so easily expressed between men, or by men singing about the heartbreak brought on by the death of a beloved man.
Whether it’s for a woman or a man, we all know this feeling. This loss we’ve all suffered more than once in our lives.
I need them no more
If never again they fall upon the one I so adore
Ohhhh… I’ve felt that. Nothing else matters. I’ve lost it all. A sublime grief. A wracking, silent sob.
You stumble through the days. The floors not level; the walls not plumb: the world off-kilter.
Could you make it strong
Cause I don’t need to think
She broke my heart
My grace is gone
One more drink and I’ll move on
The band recorded this song along with a collection of others. Entitled “The Lillywhite Sessions,” the record was not released, the thinking being the songs were too depressing. Nonetheless, the recording got out and the resulting bootleg became so popular the band re-recorded the songs and released them as the album, Busted Stuff.
There is a difference between ‘depressing’ and beautifully rendered sorrow. We are uplifted by the stories of our travels through grief. It’s how we find our way back to grace.
For now, though, one more drink, please.