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Album Review

Life and death, heaven and hell, love and sex all figure on Dave Matthews Band’s seventh release. Its odd title points to the tragedy that serves as the album’s focal point. The GrooGrux King is a reference to founding DMB saxophonist LeRoi Moore, who died of complications following an ATV accident in August 2008. Moore’s haunting sax lines open the album, and it’s clear that his passing haunts the band, too.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Several tracks on GrooGrux grapple with the paradox of how joy and loss coexist. "Funny the Way It Is" ponders the incongruous facts that "somebody's going hungry" while "somebody else is eating out," and that as a soldier takes his last breath, "his baby's being born." In "Spaceman," Dave Matthews acknowledges, "Bad days come when the good day's gone," but he says that he intends to keep "working as hard as the day is long." On this track and elsewhere, the band's frontman cryptically acknowledges both God and the devil ("I prayed to heaven/To keep my place/But I looked in the mirror/Saw the devil's face"). "Squirm" recognizes the spiritual import of kindness ("If kindness be your king/Then heaven will be yours/Before you meet your end") and implies that love breathes life into the lifeless.

The bluesy romp "Alligator Pie" focuses on a Hurricane Katrina victim who prays for God's help but who also acknowledges the devil's destructive presence. The song concludes with a plea for grace ("Grace is all I'm asking/When will grace return?"). The confusing "Time Bomb" perhaps finds a man longing to know Jesus, understanding, at some level, that he helped crucify Him ("Baby when I get home/I wanna believe in Jesus/Hammer in the final nail/Help me pick up the pieces"). The album concludes with two tracks about the beauty of love. "Baby Blue" finds a man aching in the wake of his love's death, even as he imagines angels guiding her to heaven. "You & Me" closes out the proceedings with a reflection on the power of two ("You and me together/We can do anything, baby").

Objectionable Content

When Dave and Co. aren't meandering down philosophical trails, they're likely singing—very concretely—the praises of sex and sensuality. "Shake Me Like a Monkey" finds Matthews fantasizing about licking his lover's torso. Her sensuality is so overpowering, in fact, that he claims "God or the devil alone could not have made you up/The two must have worked together." On "Squirm," a woman's touch is all a man needs ("The power of your kiss/Your words, your lips/Your flesh, your bones/Exactly what you need"). And while they're not graphically explicit, it's impossible to miss the suggestive allusions to sex on "Seven." Given the album's title, it's no surprise that alcohol gets approvingly nods on a couple tracks as well ("Spaceman," "Why I Am").

For all the references to God and the devil, ultimately Dave doesn't seem too concerned about either. "If God don't like me, He can send me to hell," he suggests on "Spaceman." And when Dave passes away, he hopes to be with LeRoi, no matter what his eternal destiny ("When my story ends," he sings on "Why I Am," "It's gonna end with him/Heaven or hell/I'm going there with the GrooGrux King"). Elsewhere, Matthews says, "I bow to the priest/While I worship the witch." A couple profanities (including one f-word) turn up along the way, as do some bawdy line drawings of naked men and women on the album cover.

Summary Advisory

The passing of a beloved band member has clearly spurred the members of DMB to deeper reflections about life and death. Still, the sensual, sexual tone that the band has struck on previous releases is definitely still evident. And whatever spiritual musings might be present here, their frequency shouldn't be confused with clarity.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

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