Do You Ever Know?
By Jake Vigliotti
September 6, 2002
It's always fun to figure out the true meaning of a DMB song. Dave has said numerous times that his songs are about whatever people want them to be about. Well, that's a mighty fine soundbyte, and looks good in print, but in reality DMB songs are not that ambiguous.
Dave wrote each song with a very specific theme in his mind. In the Song Tour here at am.org, we have tried to figure out exactly what's going on in Dave's mind when he writes a song.
On some, it's fairly easy, based on clues given by Dave either in the song, or during an interview. Some are nearly impossible without being speculative. Dreaming Tree is a fun song to think you know what's going on, but the dearth of clues leaves only conjecture.
I nailed 'em both. I was so excited, I called my wife to tell her about them, and played the songs over and over until she was as sick of those as she was of Spoon when I nailed (no pun intended) that one.
Until my wife got a hold of the lyrics to You Never Know.
I was wrong. Well, I guess, you never... well, you get the picture.
So, without further ado, here are the interpretations of Raven and You Never Know by me, and my wife Tracy.
Raven is filled with religous overtones. To simplify it, "Father" is God, and "Son" is mankind. And what is that, between the fingers and the thumb, you may ask? It reminds me of the classic, He's Got The Whole World. It's the power of religion, the Word Of God. God reminds the boy to be careful with the power, but mankind is flippant, not realizing exactly what is in his hands.
Later, as one hand is bleeding, and one hand holds the gun, it represents how one hand doesn't know what the other is doing. The hands represent mankind, how one man can manipulate another without the latter realizing it. See Germany, circa 1933 for a good example. Continuing the duality, as an opportunity to learn what God wants for us opens, it closes just as quickly. The beginning to end (life) is the dog chasing his tail analogy; never finding the solution. Dave then paints a beautiful religious image by stating that the holy "ground beneath" is just one man's opinion of what God wants you to do.
Jumping ahead in the song a bit, the "Truth", is offered in a whisper. The Holy Bible is refered to as the truth. The secretive nature makes it seem more valuable. Man wants to "twist" the truth just a little bit for his purposes. That leaves God standing there, being "twisted" into something he never wanted.
Raven is about Mankind using God to their own liking. It is ambiguous enough to include a TV preacher with his $.95 a minute prayer line, to a Muslum strapping dynamite to a 15 year old and reminding him of the 72 hotties waiting for him after he hits the button.
YOU NEVER KNOW
The song is told in retrospect, until the end catches up with the present. The story begins with someone sitting "still as stone", and simply, "watching". Before they can walk, babies just sit there and take everything in, watching and wondering (Jake's idea). But if you're a baby, people wouldn't "stop to talk or think about it", but if you're dying, that sounds like their reaction (Tracy's correct idea).
The person sitting still as stone is dying. We know Dave has used a stone as a death motif, fittingly in The Stone. There is a clue in the unmentionable death. It's still common to just say the "C" word, and people will know what it is; not jinxing themselves by actually saying the word, Cancer.
The Rushing around again encompasses the Carpe Diem theme. This is a common element running for a few stanzas, as the speaker, a young person by admission, looks to the sky for answers. Thinking that if he lost faith (turned away), the moon (higher power) would not answer his prayers.
More disease clues are offered. "All fall down" originated as a song sung by children during the black plague of the 1300's. (ED NOTE: according to snopes.com, that's a false rumor, but Dave didn't know that there are 5 oceans, not 7, so no harm done) The death occurs, but rather being a life altering in-a-bad-way thing, "out of the darkness, comes light". Self doubt continues, but eventually, success comes from the loss.
And as anyone who has heard Dave doubt himself after playing a song (not that anyone has listened to an IEM after 2001, because they are forbidden by Red Light), profusely apoligizing to the band for messing up the words, or whatever, can see how he can, "find it hard to explain", how he rose from the death of his father at a young age to become successful. Success not only in music, but in life.
You Never Know is an autobiographical song about Dave's loss of his father to cancer at a young age, and how he used the loss as a strengh for life.
As with all the songs explanations appearing at am.org, these are an attempt
to determine exactly what Dave meant. As the man himself says, "You can read
in whatever you're needing to".
The views and comments expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of antsmarching.org.