You can call me Dave

In the new GQ profile of Dave Matthews, which came out last week and which I’m just now finding time to write about, Alex Pappademas writes about Dave’s appearance on a 2022 CBS special where he did “You Can Call Me Al,” “the most Dave Matthews of all Paul Simon songs.”

The specific moment that Alex addresses is the penny whistle solo after the second chorus, at which point in the show (2:11 in the video here) Dave starts strutting around the stage, hands in the air like a suburban dad at a wedding. The crowd loves it. I love it. There’s something very important going on here, Alex points out.

“This moment is a litmus test. If you’re inclined to see Dave as irredeemably dorky, the jokes write themselves. But if you watch it with love in your heart, Matthews comes across like a kind of Zen master who’s transcended the binary of cool and cringe.”

First of all, watching most things with love in your heart will do wonders for your own mental health and your own understanding of what it means to live in this world with other people. But more to the point, there’s something deeply affecting in those dance moves (to me, at least, maybe *because* I’m a suburban dad?), something cathartic for the audience.

That catharsis is felt by Dave, too, I’m sure, and that’s kind of the thrust of Alex’s piece, this idea that somewhere in between the poles of audience reception (you’re lame, you’re defiantly cool) lies a certain truth about life (and death). We are neither, we are both. It doesn’t matter. The only thing left to do is dance.


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