This Interview Will Make You Care About Dave Matthews

Vulture's David Marchese spoke to the alternative rock luminary about life, loss, and therapy.
May 14, 2018, 3:52pm
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At the top of his new interview with Dave Matthews, Vulture's David Marchese writes that his subject has lately been undergoing a modest critical reevaluation. Matthews, Marchese writes, has always been "polarizing," but through some combination of Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird—which featured The Dave Matthews Band's music prominently—and the South Africa-born singer's affable and memeable public persona, perceptions have started to shift.


It seems too cute to suggest that soft rock and its aesthetic allies are wandering back into the public consciousness because the world is in crisis, but here we are. Reading Leah Prinzivalli's piece on Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville University and Andrea Domanick's conversation with yacht rock icon Michael MacDonald last year felt like coming up for air after half-drowning in a sea of pre-apocalyptic news items. Actually once in a while listening to Changes in Latitudes… and If That's What It Takes and, hell, Thundercat felt like fixing on an oxygen mask. Matthews may have broken through a full two decades after Buffett and his fellow beach enthusiasts, but the escapism remains the same.

Aside from that moment in the introduction, the interview only touches on this briefly, and from a very different angle. Marchese—a master of the Q&A—asks Matthews if the tragedy he's dealt with in his life has had an impact on the way he sees his commercial success. (Matthews was 10 when his father died; his sister was murdered in 1994.) Matthews doesn't try to duck:

It’s an interesting question, because I think about the injustice of things. I wonder why I’ve been so fortunate when I’m as undeserving as anybody. When I hear people that are excessively wealthy or excessively successful saying, “Well, I’ve worked for everything I have…” Hang on one second. What are you talking about? You think you’re working harder than the guy who digs ditches for a living? Trade places with him for a week and then talk to me how hard you worked. Again, I’m so grateful for what I have, but the amount I’ve been rewarded does not square with my beliefs. It’s hard to wrap my head around how perversely well-paid I am. But I do think in my actions—in going out and bringing people joy with music—that there’s good purpose in what I do.

Marchese simply responds by saying "Pleasure isn’t a small thing," and that's the crux of things here. Those little moments of happiness that music can provide in the middle of all chaos—they're essential. Matthews is reluctant to accept that at first, and maybe being rich and famous and coping with almost unimaginable loss will do that to a person. But deep down, he seems to understand that this all has some value. And Marchese is good enough to pull that out of him. You should read the whole interview over at Vulture.

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