Ocean X3 @72_2

Photo by Donna (photo commentary here)

I do a lot of my writing to Dave Matthews Band. That and Bach (The Well-Tempered Clavier ROCKS!). I don’t know why and I don’t even know if I hear the music anymore. I’ve never written about this because it’s never been germane.  But there’s a song on the new album—fabulous album if you're into this kind of thing—that haunts me and relates directly to what I say pretty much anytime anyone lets me stand up before an audience:

1. We have to PAY ATTENTION to what we are doing to the earth BECAUSE:

2. If we fuck it up, we’re going to have SHITTY food.

3. And having SHITTY food is: No. FUN!

There are other reasons for not fucking up the earth, of course, but right now I’m taking a Dr. Seuss approach: There's fun to be done, and fun is good.

So, I’m working, clicking away on the keyboard and not listening to this song, "Dive In," which opens with a guy on the side of the road holding a sign “Will Work For Food.”  The narrator, stuck in his car at a red light sees the guy with the sign, tries to look busy.  (Why?  You know exactly why.) 

Next scene, the guy’s watching TV, a bear, big old scary polar bear looking sad because all his pals are drowning because all the ice is melting.

But I kind of fade out of the lyrics and into the easy upbeat groove of the happy song….

"Wake up sleepy head, I think the sun's a little brighter today, la la la…summer’s here to stay…la la…smile and watch the icicles melt…la la la…."

My pal DL told me I needed to pay attention to the words. "Mike, pay attention."

How long did it take me to connect the guy in the car (me), ignoring someone who’s hungry, to that same guy (me) watching TEEvee and not paying attention to the drowning bears.

I’m just saying.  It’s a good song.  There’s no single answer. Everyone answers it their own way.  But one thing’s certain, there’s no non-answer.  You can’t not answer.  You can try to look busy till the light turns green (but here, nothing nothing is something).

No, but seriously, smile! Everything will be all right if you just hope for it enough, and of course, as we know, the qualified people will take care of everything.  (Health care, for example.)

What’s so brilliant about the song is that the tune is completely out of line with message of the song.

[i used to have the song embedded here, but it started playing automatically when people using chrome browser came to this site.]

Smile and watch the icicles melt…

Summer’s here to stay

And that sweet summer breeze will blow forever.

On the other hand, I've never been able to forget George Carlin; his words ring in my head: "The Earth is gonna shake us off like a bad case of fleas."


37 Wonderful responses to “Dive In (or try to look busy)(or “fleas”)”

  • ntsc

    There was a muscian of the 60s, Jacques Loussier, who took a lot of Bach and transformed it into music for Jazz trio or quartet.

    I’ve no idea if it is still available or not, I’v only got him in LP.

  • Kate in the NW

    I’ve been so busy with the start of my kid’s (gasp…) MIDDLE SCHOOL that I haven’t had time to read lately, but this caught my eye, since I’m a long-time Dave fan. So much of his music is like that – the tune at odds with the message – it’s part of why he’s SO F-ING BRILLIANT!!!

    All the best food is like that, too – it encompasses surprises and opposites – sweet & salty, hot & cold, smooth & crunchy. Otherwise, it’s just bland, or too…something.

    It seems like the meaning and – I don’t know – ALIVENESS in life is so often found, captured, and expressed in the uncomfortable spaces between what we expect and what actually IS. Either you welcome the wake-up call and unexpected shift in perception, or you avoid it like the plague. “Sauce on the side” – “I don’t like my peas touching my carrots” – “EEw – honey on cheese?!”

    You have to be willing to be uncomfortable to be ALIVE.

  • Tags

    Some people are too busy eating screaming pigs and trying to find an “antidote” for Alice Waters.

  • claudia (cook eat FRET)

    well, “i’m just saying.” is what REALLY threw me…

    ps – sadly, whether through our own fault or just a freak turn of natural events, i agree with george. i am also a huge believer in lyrics and reducing my cured meat consumption. but see, that’s what makes us all so fascinating, if only to ourselves…

  • JimD

    Great post Michael. The whole album speaks to the change before us. Dive in is so powerful on many levels it takes several times to pick up the subtle refrences – to food, climate, love, compassion. Thanks for sharing the insights

  • Jax Roe

    On an aside, I usually write to the soundtracks to Girl with a Pearl Earring, or English Patient. I’ve found that when you’re so familiar with the music, you don’t have to focus on it – much to your point… No music and any interruption sounds huge, new music and you find yourself distracted… 🙂

  • Sandy

    I’ve had moments like that to Bowie and Beethoven.

    Free associated writing jags to music are one of my favorite ways to recharge inspirational batteries. Bridges right and left hemispheres, new strange flashes of logic and insight, yada yada.

    Food can do the same thing. If only we could make those moments happen all the time.

  • Natalie Sztern

    There will never be another George Carlin. Kate: “You have to be willing to be uncomfortable to be ALIVE” is so profound and so accurate and uh ‘mike’ what were you smoking when you wrote this??…such a different side of you…
    I am liking this post

  • Chef Gwen

    Ha! Natalie, I thought the exact same thing. But it was an interesting — and enlightening — post, even if difficult to follow first read-through. Perhaps an example of working right THROUGH writer’s block?

  • Kate in the NW

    I don’t understand why a writer – scratch that – a human being (and particularly such an obviously thoughtful one) would have to be high to consider a subject that is other than his or her principle focus.

    Of course, he COULD be, but so what? It’s still an interesting post. And I don’t have to get the smell out of my carpet!

    Lots of people write about food – and I read them. I read this blog because it’s about MORE than food. That’s what keeps it interesting. Food is important, but it’s not EVERYTHING. It is, of course, CONNECTED to everything…and this is one of the few blogs about just how that happens (A Hunger Artist being another notable example).

    Food, drink, music, family…it’s all good. I hope there are more entries like this one.

    This is one of the most interesting dinner parties I’ve been to over the last couple of years!

  • luis

    Oh bro, this explains it. My advice is Write Yes!, Write NO!.. but never write so-so! Focus man, you have to focus. How can you write with such a racket going on?

  • DanfromSF

    You always have rubbed me the wrong way. With your praise of Dave M, I get it. You are a mainstream loser with poor taste.

  • Paulius Nasvytis

    Ironically, The Dave Matthews Band was busted a few years ago for dumping 800 lbs of their bus’s “waste water” into the Chicago River. Downtown. From a bridge. Right onto one of those architechtural tour boats. ewwwwwwwwwww.

  • ruhlman

    that IS disgusting. I recently took one of those architectural boat tours–it was fantastic. But we were dry the whole time.

  • Kanani

    Saying the “F” word while writing is often a common practice. Usually, we edit it out. So it’s nice to see a usually august food writer letting loose. It shows an absolute lack of fear, the ability to be in the moment, despite the looming deadlines or the editors who keep sending shit back.

    (I’m writing & editing a book to French Cafe music from Pandora).

  • carri

    great music sample… Dave Matthews Band has not been on the bakery IPod for a long time,though I’ve spent many early mornings in the past baking away to ‘Under the Table and Dreaming’..so upbeat, great music to work hard by!
    I also think that in order to get peoples attention, sometimes you have to swear…just sayin.

  • Tags

    The nice thing about getting “busted” is that it gives folks who wouldn’t normally care a chance to get on the right path, like Michael Vick, for instance.

    So, maybe part of the reason for conscientious songs like “Dive In” is because of his chastening from the “bus dump” incident.

  • David

    Dave Matthews Band? Seriously? And then you use the phrase, “I’m just sayin'” after Jon Stewart blasted news networks for using pop culture phrases such as this as the title for lame recurring segments on their shows. And the whole Club Med thing really has me feeling like I have wandered into an alternate universe.

    I’m a big fan, but I hope Bourdain knocks some sense into you with a good wallop over the head with a massive side of pork belly.

  • ruhlman

    you’re not the first, david, for calling me on the i’m just sayin phrase. why is this odd. i’m out of touch. and why the hell WOULDN’T i go to club med in mexico. with my wife. in january. have you been to cleveland in january?

  • luanda

    ntsc: Loussier is still around and playing all over the world. Granted, he must be in his 80’s?? Just released a 50th anniversary CD from Telarc.
    Yes, nothing like working/writing to music without vocals. Helped tremendously in college.
    And also now.

  • Loomis

    Thanks for paying attention. Great song, great lyrics, great post. If we don’t do something, who will? We are now “they” whether we like it or not.

  • louisville student

    I’m sorry, but being excited about the DMB is like being stoked about what’s new at crApplebee’s.

    I’m just sayin…

  • Reynolds

    Ruhlman Ruhlman Ruhlman…
    I love your blog and how it always seems to inspire me to do those things which I might not normally do but are so easy (like making my own bacon.) However…and there’s always a however…this post seems a tad bit silly to me. Perhaps it’s because I have yet to drink Al Gore’s junk science Kool-Aid. Having said that, we must stick to that which unites–pork belly enfatuation–for it is far more powerful than that which divides us.

  • patchkabel

    Yes,we should stop to harm the earth if we want to live more healthy and happily.I think we become very selfish to get best for us without considering other races on the earth.By the way,the new album of that band is really good one.