“See you and me have a better time than most can dream of, better than the best, so we can pull on through, whatever tears at us, whatever holds us down, and if nothing can be done, we'll make the best of what's around.”-Dave Matthews "Best of What's Around"

BIOGRAPHY: Dave Matthews By: Chris Schmarr
David John Matthews or known best by his fans as "Dave" is the lead singer of the Dave Matthews Band. Dave Matthews was born January 9th, 1967 in South Africa to John and Val Matthews. After living in the U.S. for many years Matthews' father lost his battle with lung cancer; the family had no other option but to return to South Africa ("Dave matthews biography," 2003-2010). After his high school graduation, Matthews refused to serve two years of military service (a rule in South Africa) due to his family's Quaker roots. He then decided to move to Charlottesville, Virginia; a place where the family had lived before his birth. Whether he knew it or not, this was the initial step into forming the Dave Matthews Band ("Dave matthews biography," 2003-2010).

It was Charlottesville that brought out Matthews true desires in life. There he tried acting on stage in local productions while he worked a job as a bartender at a local bar called, "Millers," there local musicians would play for small crowds, low pay, and free beer. Matthews never tried his hand at performing his music on stage because he was easily intimidated by the other musicians and their skills. It wasn't until friend and local music star Tim Reynolds asked Matthews to join him on stage where he performed and was instantly a hit with the crowd. After his performance with Tim Reynolds locals suggested he should form his own band. Originally, Matthews envisioned someone else singing his songs until he mustered up enough courage to allow local musicians to sample his demos. Those local musicians included: Leroi Moore, Boyd Tinsley, Stefan Lessard, and Carter Beauford. Much to Matthews surprise they loved what they heard and decided that they had the right formula to start a band; and so they did ("Dave matthews biography," 2003-2010).

The band began performing with their first public show at the Charlottesville's 1991 Earth Day Festival. Soon after, the band began playing local weekly gigs at places all around Charlottesville. Their popularity began to grow and grow at alarming rates. Clubs started to fill up, they began touring all over the country, and finally a record deal was in store. The band would then go on to tour for the next twenty years becoming one of the greatest touring bands of all time ("Dave matthews band," 2000-2011). Through triumph and tragedy the once small town performers have grown into one of the greatest bands in the history of music and don't show signs of stopping anytime soon. Who would have thought it all started with a young man from South Africa.

At one point or another in our lives we begin to question our self-worth and purpose in life. Why are we here? Existentialism is described as an area of philosophy that is concerned with the meaning of human existence (Friedman, 2009, p. 294). Dave Matthews struggles with this issue on a constant basis and it can be seen in his lyrics. Existential philosophers place the responsibility of personality squarely on the individual. How an individual deals with love, ethics, anxiety, triumph, and death is completely up to that individual (Friedman, 2009, p. 320).
Death seemed to be a reoccurring theme in Matthews' life and one that significantly affected his life and personality. In 1994, Matthews' world was turned completely upside down when his sister, Anne, was shot and killed by her husband who subsequently took his own life as well. Two days after the tragic incident, Matthews performed a concert “in her memory” and later that year released the bands first CD, which was dedicated to her. In the wake of the loss, Matthews did not hide his love for his sister but instead celebrated it openly for everyone to see. In 2008, while on a summer tour, the band received news that member, Leroi Moore, had passed away due to complications after an accident suffered several months prior. The same day of his death the band had a scheduled performance but did not know if they should still perform. Dave simply put it into perspective for everyone, “There's no place I'd rather be than here with you guys.” Matthews follows a philosophy that each moment should be cherished because each relationship and each experience is fleeting and ultimately finite. He is truly himself when he is around the people he loves and appreciates performing for the people who love him. Needless to say, that particular performance after losing a band member was an emotional night for not only Matthews and the band, but the fans as well. After telling stories about Leroi to the crowd, Matthews ended by saying, “It is always easier to leave, than to be left” (“The dave matthews," 2008). Losing loved ones in your life makes you question life and its purpose. Death is never an easy thing to handle but Matthews' grip on reality and sense of self allow him to keep the memory of those he has lost alive through his music. Not knowing what will happen next has brought a sense of anxiety to his life but this anxiety has lead to triumph and self-fulfillment (Friedman, 2009, p. 306). His outlook on life has been tossed and turned upside down through this roller coaster ride called life but it is easy to see how he views the world today. In his own words, “Celebrate we will. Cause life is short but sweet for certain” (“Dave Matthews band,” 2000-2011). Those are the words of a mature man who has come to realize that life is a fragile sort of thing that should be cherished and celebrated.
After twenty years of constant touring, Matthews seem to have found peace and a sense of purpose in life. This purpose is to perform for the millions around the world that love his music and love being with him for a few hours each night they put on a show. Carl Rogers described a fully functioning person as a person who leads a spiritually enriching, exciting, and courageous life (Friedman, 2009, p. 303). Dave Matthews is the epitome of this definition. Each night he steps out on to that stage with his best friends he is stepping into a spiritual place where he feels most comfortable and most capable of bringing joy to the lives of others. He has shown his courage on countless occasions by getting up on stage after tragic losses to show appreciation for his fans and the loved ones that he has lost. It is the excitement and unwritten script of a musician who lives and loves selflessly that makes Matthews’ life so exciting and fulfilling. This year marks the first year that the Dave Matthews Band will not be having a summer tour in the group’s twenty year history. However, Matthews cannot stay away from performing his music. He recognizes that he has a “responsibility” to his fans and to himself to live fully and perform his music because no one knows when his time is up. He has scheduled stops for the band to perform over the summer because without his fans, without his band mates, and without his music; Dave Matthews is not living.
Anyone who has been to a concert, listened to his music, or even been lucky enough to meet the man in person knows how to describe Dave Matthews. While he is a deep thinker and focuses on the internal (introvert) he also exhibits signs of being an extrovert demonstrated by his passion, outgoing personality, comedic attitude, artistic talent and zest for life. A trait approach to characterizing a personality uses a basic, limited set of adjectives to describe and scale an individual. However, the same traits cannot be applied to everyone; that is what makes everyone different (Friedman, 2009, p.257).
Trait personality dates as far back as ancient Greece. Hippocrates was the first to introduce this approach to defining personality (Friedman, 2009, p. 258). Matthews is definitely a creative man who has a passion and talent for music and portraying his words in an amazing way. He can be seen as an extrovert when playing with the band because he is extremely outgoing, intense, and full of life. When he performs by himself it is no longer a huge production but instead it is a much deeper and special acoustic evening. Just because it just is Matthews alone on stage does not mean that the show loses any flavor. Any fan knows that a solo Dave Matthews performance is not only full of beautiful music but hilarious stories and constant “Dave talk” that the audience cannot get enough of. He loves to talk to the audience and interact with them; it brings a sense of fulfillment to him when he knows that they are pleased and had a good night of music. Based off of Hippocrates human temperaments Dave would be best labeled as, Sanguine (blood).
A contemporary trait approach that was first introduced in the 60's but has been growing in popularity in recent years is The Big Five. The Big Five include Extroversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness. It has been stated that the most common trait approaches to personality can be captured using the five dimensions (Friedman, 2009, p. 267) and each can be found in every person to some extent. Using this scale as a guideline, you can find out who a person truly is and what they are all about. After listening to his music, going to multiple concerts, and watching interviews I know exactly which trait Dave Matthews portrays more than another. First is extroversion; extroverted people usually are energetic, dominant, outgoing, talkative, and sociable (Friedman, 2009, p. 267). Like I previously stated, Matthews is extremely extroverted in the sense that he can perform in front of thousands at his large shows and bring a sense of interaction with the fans at his solo shows. He is very sociable and can strike up a conversation with anyone about pretty much anything. That is a safe assessment judging off of some of the stories he has told at his shows. Second is agreeableness, which is characterized by friendliness, cooperation and warmness towards others (Friedman, 2009, p. 267). Matthews is a friendly man who is always there trying to lend a helping hand. Each year he performs at Farm Aid, which is a benefit concert that brings together Americas farmers to stand up for what they believe in. He has performed many benefit concerts and continues to donate his time and money to help various foundations around the world. Conscientious people are cautious, dependable, persevering, and responsible (Friedman, 2009, p. 267). If Matthews’s journey to stardom has shown us anything it is that he can persevere through tough times. Although he is a cautious man he is never afraid to go out there and try something new whether that means performing a new song or supporting a new cause. Neuroticism can apply to some extent to Matthews. Neurotic people tend to be nervous, tense, moody, and worrisome (Friedman, 2009, p. 267). While he may seem cool and calm on stage, Dave has admitted that even after all this time he still sometimes gets nervous to perform in front of a crowd. Playing new songs for him is one of the hardest things to do because he truly thrives on the audiences reactions. Bad reactions mean bad sense of feeling for him. While being emotionally stable he is still very neurotic as he continues to build his legacy. The fifth trait is Openness, which is characterized by imagination, originality and creativity (Friedman, 2009, p. 267). Dave is an artist and professional. His style has changed very much from the early years but as an artist you need to be open and imaginative, seeking out the next best thing through creative triumph and failure. All of these findings can lead us to some idea of who he really is. Dave Matthews clearly covers all aspects of the Big Five but in his own special way. He certainly is one of a kind.
These two approaches previously stated are the best ways of describing Dave Matthews and who he really is. Dave Matthews is a complex man to assess. He is a man that can be labeled by a diverse set of personality characteristics but by using the trait approach it is much easier to simplify his personality to a small number of basic dimensions. The approach also allowed for a good individual assessment (Friedman, 2009, p. 289).
The existential/humanistic approach helped show the struggles that Matthews had faced in his life and helped form him into the person that he is today. Unfortunately, people pass everyday but it is a unique and tragic event when you lose someone that you love deeply. Using this approach to personality it was easy to assess Matthews’s personality after learning of the triumphs and hardships he went through. The losses experienced by Matthews and his ability to cope with these losses led him to a more complete understanding of himself and life in general. Matthews has shown great maturity over the years and really seems to have a great sense of self as he appreciates the brevity of life and the importance of living life to the fullest extent.
These various approaches have shown how different people view themselves and how it affects the lives that they lead. You can live your life in fear of failure or you can recognize that “life is short, but sweet for certain” and strive for greatness. Greatness and self-fulfillment can only be achieved by persevering through set-backs and understanding that nothing is promised or set in stone. While your personality is influenced by genetics and life experiences it is never too late to change the path that you are on and the person that you are. My examination of Dave Matthews, a man who I thought I knew and understood well, has shown me that personality is highly complex and worthy of constant examination. While I knew Dave as a creative artist, I now understand that he is a man who has been able to turn negative hardships in his life into something positive through his music, which continues to inspire people around the world.

Friedman, H. S. & Schustack, M. W. (2009). Personality: Classic theories and modern research (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
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