Dave Matthews- Creationist?

Why do lyrics have to be so obscure all the time? I was a HUGE DMB fan as a teenager and still really like their music, but his new single Eh-hee has me confused about what Dave is trying to say in his lyrics- he’s about as good at getting his point across as is Isaiah speaking to the 21st century.

First part seems atheistic:

Praise God who has many names
But the devil have many more
With the love that my mother gave me
I’m gonna drop the devil to the floor

I’m gonna drop the devil to his knees
I’m gonna drop the devil to his knees

The problem is some people gonna try to convince you
That they know the answer no matter the question
Be wary of those who believe in a neat little world
Cause it’s just fucking crazy you know that it is

Eh hee yeah amanaya yeaha yeah eh eh amana
Eh hee yeah amanaya yeaha yeah eh eh amana

Second part pro-evolutionist (after re-reading it several times), …yet also somewhat agnostic:

Strange evolution how people have come to believe
That we are it’s greatest achievement
Barely, we’re just a collection of cells
Overrating themselves
God I’m avoiding the truth

He then ends the song sounding somewhat Christian:

Drop the devil to his knees
I’m gonna drop the devil to his knees
I’m gonna drop the devil to his knees
I’m gonna drop the devil to his knees

Come on
Brother, sister
Brother, sister
Brother, sister
Brother, sister
Praise God

So what the hell was that all about? I think that Dave continues to remain Agnostic-Atheist and it appears that he obviously accepts evolution as well. I started writing this post thinking that Dave’s lyrics were mocking evolution but now see the opposite to be true. I think that he may have masked his lyrics in murky word-play to appeal to both sides of the fence. For example, back to one of the paragraphs above:

Strange evolution how people have come to believe
That we are it’s greatest achievement
Barely, we’re just a collection of cells
Overrating themselves
God I’m avoiding the truth

Here is where i see he has the most fun with words:

You could read the above as “strange evolution” as in “The Theory of Evolution is strange”, or you could read it (probably more correctly) as “strange evolution (as in strange ‘change over time’) how people believe we’re its greatest achievement (as in elitist)”. He then responds: “Barely: we’re just a collection of cells”, where one could understand the same line merely being spoken sarcastically, mocking evolution.

It’s intelligently written to sound pro-evolution or anti, depending on what you want it to say. Well done, Dave, you’re still my favorite artist.


31 thoughts on “Dave Matthews- Creationist?

  1. I think you’re right that he is playing both sides. You might like Jack Johnson’s “It’s all Understood” if you havn’t already really listened to the lyrics. He sound’s like he’s religious mostly but I think Jack Johnson plays both sides at least a little.

  2. cool, i’m gonna check it out right now while i take an evening walk. i also just got the new Dave matthews and Tim Reynolds CD that i’m dying to listen to!

  3. Great analysis, Mark. I think you’re right on with the general message, though if you combine the actual music with the video I don’t see the playing of both sides — more like competing voices resonating in the same cranium with the result being a very human experience. of mixed higher thought and animal passion.

    Awesome song and video. Thanks!

  4. To further explain what I’m hearing/seeing …

    He starts with the rhythmic voice which echos a kind of thought tempo which has beneath it the beat of a passionate voice. The voice of reason is higher and somewhat detached — injecting ideas into the mix that disturb the rhythm ( all this timed with the woman in the video that keeps messing with his head — changing his attire, offering him an apple! Dumping shit on him an then cleaning him up. There’s a lot going on here).

    I think this one’s about what it’s actually like in a given human mind. I can really identify with it.

  5. Well, you may want him to believe what you do but this is very obvious, DM is re-connecting to his belief in God…not just any God but…eh hemm…Jesus. Yep, I said it. Just think back to his Christmas song about Jesus, and the song he does on the Abbey Road TV show. Personally, I applaud him for putting his true beliefs out there.

    By the way, Christianity (with its control and hypocrisy) as a religion sucks. Accepting that Jesus made you right with the creator is what’s all about. A free gift of salvation not based on what you do but on his love is truth. Just had to get that in there. Peace

  6. mel, i’m glad you wrote your follow-up comment, i hadn’t read it until now. i hadn’t even thought of distinguishing the differnent types of voices heard in the song and everything going on in his head- nice work!

    Clint, Cathy: once again, this shows the potential duality of Dave’s lyrics. i have shown a source where dave has gone on record as being agnostic, do you have any reason to believe he is “re-connecting to his belief in God…not just any God but…eh hemm…Jesus”?

    i await your comments/sources/insights. regardles, dave’s intriguing with his work.

  7. Pingback: Eh Hee « 2 angry morons

  8. I don’t think Dave is playing both sides at all. I guess to a fan who has a certain amount of faith towards God or religion, this song might leave an uneasy feeling in them. I remember people trying to find both sides of “Everybody wake up” also, because they couldn’t accept an anti-bush song.

    But it is what it is…

  9. Eh hee amanaya yeaha yea eh eh amana

    This is a vedic chant from the sri paraprasada scriptures.
    The god who has many names would be Shiva.

    Too Much is also seems to be based on Vedic scriptures about Shiva the destroyer/transformer.

    I am beginning to think Dave is Shiva’s messenger or incarnation.

  10. Thankyou for that insight dave!
    can you tell me what
    Eh hee amanaya yeaha yea eh eh amana
    translates to in that scripture…

    and thanks Mark and Mel for intelligent conversation…
    “jesus people” back up your story with logical reasons and evidence if you are going to suggest random influences…
    I am open to all ideas with support and objective investigation…

    DMB really have caused a stir with this one haven’t they…

  11. Miki: just found out the meaning to that phrase via Wikipedia:

    “Eh Hee” was written as an evocation of the music and culture of the Khoisan people of southern Africa. In a story told to the Radio City audience (an edited version of which appears on the DVD version of Live at Radio City), Matthews recalls hearing the music of the Khoisan and, upon asking his guide what the words to their songs were, being told that “there are no words to these songs, because these songs, we’ve been singing since before people had words”. He goes on to describe the song as his “homage to meeting… the most advanced people on the planet”.

    The song debuted in February 2006 on the Dave Matthews & Friends Caribbean cruise with the title “Ayhee”. It was performed as part of a mini-performance on each individual ship after storm conditions cut the main show short. Other than a solo performance by Matthews in Manchester a few months later, it was not seen again in full until the Radio City performance. The song went on to become a regular part of Dave Matthews Band’s summer tour in 2007, being played by the full band.

    [source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eh_Hee%5D

  12. There are different kinds of naturalists: Optimistic and Pessimistic.

    The optimists believe that we are getting “better” all the time. They believe humans are evolving progressively.

    The Pessimistic naturalists on the other hand believe that we are simply temporarily organized organic matter that will soon become permanently disorganized. We are simply going to die and there is nothing good or bad.

    “Strange evolution how people have come to believe
    That we are it’s greatest achievement
    Barely, we’re just a collection of cells
    Overrating themselves
    God I’m avoiding the truth”

    I think the last line betrays Dave’s public resistance towards faith in a personal God. I think he cannot not believe. He seems tormented and angry about it. This is a struggle from which he seeks distraction.

    See this article from Rolling Stone (I think): http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/tim-graham/2007/11/16/rock-star-dave-matthews-god-more-irritating-santa-claus

  13. Dave is an expert at simply pointing out human hypocracy. I enjoy his songs because he points out my own hypocracies. A little humility and sometimes a swift kick in the ass are needed by everyone. Dave always points us to our basic nature, that is, Love, which I personnally believe is synonymous with God. With Love as a basis for every thought and action, who really cares which side of evolution you fall on, or which political party, or which religion. “With the love that my mother gave me” is the core of this song and Dave’s primary point, at least as Dave has reached me with his song. Praise God == Praise Love!

    You’re saying Dave’s Lyrics contradict themselves, all while your comments are a mere contradiction in itself. How does he sound “atheistic” in the first verse and “christian” in the last when he’s saying the SAME THING? And how could his second verse be “pro-evolution” when he’s clearly denying it; hence the word “barely.” People who judge musicians’ lyrics are self-loathing, self-deprecating pessimists who project their own failures onto those more successful. Musicians’ fan base grows stronger because of you people. The joke’s on you and you don’t even know it.
    Don’t quit your day job.

  15. wow juicebeagle don’t take it so personally, homefry! i can see the first verse being both ways (ie i see what you mean). 2nd verse is also equally ambiguous. i think that musicians most often than not love to be mysterious and leave things unclear. this is a great example of that.

    and i have no idea why you would say that “people who judge musicians’ lyrics are self-loathing, self-deprecating pessimists who project their own failures onto those more successful”. wow! i think you simply misunderstood the blog post. i’m not judging dave, i was simply curious what he meant in his lyrics.

    thanks for the input, tho. i can see (some) of your points, too. 🙂

  16. I have never heard this song…but will now! I feel like I am a Dave fan and think that he tackles many issues (love, sex, the environment and…yes…religon) in his songs. There can be no doubt that he wrestles with Christian themes and faith. “Bartender and the Christmas Song” are big examples. This is just one more example. My take on the text of the song: he expresses doubt as to the rock-solid nature of evolution. As we all know evolutionary theory has become orthodoxy now and anyone who questions it is lampooned as a bible-thumping rube. It is a de-facto religon. Dave plays with that and cautions us to not take as “gospel” ha! anything pakaged up so neatly for us. This also goes for religon. I have to say though, I don’t think we need to read too much into it when he says things like “drop the devil to his knees” and implores his “brothers and sisters to praise God.” Whether his adoration is directed to Shiva or a Christian God the result seems to be the same. His ambiguity here seems to dovetail with his on-the-record agnostic beliefs of being open to anything. My overall take? A religious-themed song which questions evolution.

  17. I don’t think this has ANYTHING to do with Evolution vs Creationism. I believe it’s about life. The video, to start, is crazy. It’s absolutely nuts. Just like “world is fuckin’ crazy you know that it is”.

    Also, when speaking of “Gods” vs “Devils”; I think he’s saying there are a lot of good people in the world, but there are many many more “devils” in the world. The idea of greed, the fact that Evolution’s greatest achievement is Humans even though we were simply evolved through billions of years adding on more and more cells to make us more and more advanced. There are people in the world who think everything is about them when really we are continually destroying the world, and the inhabitants of it. It’s FUCKING crazy and you all know that it is.

    Also, my own addition is that the perspective of human bodies as a collection of cells is a crazy perspective when you have a hierarchy of Humans whose “power” is measured only by the amount of “dollars” or “things” a person has. We need to drop these devils to their knees and live and work WITH each other instead of against each other. The world is FUCKING crazy, you know that it is!

  18. i usually hate thinking about blogs. i think they are stupid because people can just sit behind computers and say mean things and act tough, but this is a great convo. i was really interested in this song and -most- of you had good ideas. even if i dont agree with them. everyone had good backing. the only person that sounds like an idiot is juicebagles… you obviously just looked at the song and said what you thought right away. you didnt even take time to look into. you just talked crap about all these clever people. you prolly go on blogs all day and act tough. markii did a great job with this blog. i still wanna hear more (from the more clever people. not juice face)…

  19. After years of listening to this song, it still always makes me think. I love it. I am agnostic, which probably explains my interpretation of the lyrics.

    I think Dave wants so hard to believe in God and hope that “somebody’s gonna save the world” It’s gonna take some kind of higher power because we are out of control! “it’s just fuckin crazy, you know that it is.”

    “Strange evolution how people have come to believe
    That we are it’s greatest achievement
    Barely, we’re just a collection of cells
    Overrating themselves
    God I’m avoiding the truth”

    To me that verse is just screaming “I am agnostic.”
    After he mentions evolution…”God I’m avoiding the truth” It’s like just in case you’re listening God… I’m still on the fence.

    I don’t know. I NEVER comment on blogs. I probably sound like an idiot. I just know that I am skeptical about God but if someone asks me to pray for them, I will because “you never know” Another great example of a religion themed DMB song.

  20. Dave did this for one simple reason.

    To stir this up. Its a song people can identify with and one people can talk about. I don’t know him as having any particular belief other than his rather clearly political views he seems at times to play both sides. I think he knows the truth cause he is a rather intelligent man however I think he knows that this truth in its entirety could damage his popularity even though a large percentage of his audience is Christian.

    He is rather passionate in this song. The passion of course comes from who he is but I would think he change is pace in his afflictions shows what he is about. I could not say he represents either side but is playing Devil’s Advocate.

    No Pun Intended.

    James (LFJ)

  21. @Dave: Just so everyone knows, the Christian God, the God in the Bible has many names as well: Jehovah Jirah, Yahwej, Jesus, Holy Spirit, God the Father, etc. Also the “Devil” in Christian theology also has many more ( as quoted in the song “the devil hath many more”). He is referred to as Lucifer, Satan, the Serpent, the great Deceiver, etc. I haven’t found anything that supports this chant is of Hindu background or is anyway directed at Shiva. I think this ehee amanaya chant is more of a background noise that Dave thought sounded cool, and maybe it does stem from an African religion. But I don’t think Dave is Hindu or a reincarnate of Shiva. Some of his other songs: Bartender for example, is directly referencing Jesus. I think Dave struggles with his Christian faith and that is what this song is about. But to be fair, nobody knows what Dave is thinking when he writes any of his songs, and they’re all open to interpretation, which I think is how Dave intends it.

  22. Having roots in South Africa, Dave Matthews may be refering to something different than one may see at first glance. At his Radio City concert, he opened up with “And the Xhoi San said…” leading into the song. I believe that this song has ties to the Xhoi San culture and may be an interpretation of one of their songs, dances, or ceremonies. After all, I am living in South Africa right now so it may be something to check out 🙂

  23. The song is atheistic in nature, if you listen to it live he does not say “barely a collection of cells, he says ” when really we’re just a collection of cells overrating themselves “.

  24. The song isn’t picking sides. It’s just the opposite. It’s showing that the feud between the two sides is pointless.

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