Wonder and Whiskey: Insights on Faith from the Music of Dave Matthews Band

Now available through Wipf and Stock!

Dave Matthews likes Jesus, but not dogmatic beliefs about him. He openly wonders about God’s existence while singing of showing love to each other as life’s highest ideal. His songs celebrate making the most of each day’s pleasures because we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, but also caution against overindulgence. His music wrestles with deep questions about identity and mortality, while proposing that upholding others’ worth is one of the most important roles we can fulfill. Wonder and Whiskey is an exploration of the lyrics of Dave Matthews Band as a multilayered call to be present in the moment, both for oneself and others, as well as how these ideas intersect with the highest aspirations of a lived Christian spirituality.

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This book is for...

...fans of Dave Matthews Band interested in an analysis of music from across their catalogue...

...general music fans wanting to learn more about the band's background and songs...

...non-fans nonetheless curious about the band's relevance to modern spiritual and social issues...

...spiritual seekers who'd find the interpretation of song lyrics more accessible than of Biblical texts...

...those who have declared themselves done with formal religious affiliation but who have retained an interest in charting their own faith path...

...Christian believers who enjoy making connections between faith and popular culture.

Praise for Wonder and Whiskey:

"Jeff Nelson has taken his love for the music of Dave Matthews to a new level! Drawing from Matthews's life experience and inspiration, Jeff pulls the reader into the stories that crafted the lyrics and musical fabric of such a diverse musician. Not only does Jeff take into consideration Matthews's own life but Jeff goes one step further by viewing the songs through a lens of spirituality. While I learned so much about Dave Matthews in reading Wonder and Whiskey, I also learned more about myself, and for that I am grateful for Jeff Nelson's dedication to create such a book as this." - Leanor Ortega Till, saxophonist for Five Iron Frenzy and Staff Member at Urban Skye Ministries

"Fans of the Dave Matthews Band will love this book! And if you are not a fan, this book will make you want to become one. Demonstrating a thorough familiarity with the life and career of Dave Matthews, the other members of the band, and the band’s musical catalogue, Jeff Nelson tells us not only how he came to hear his own life in the band’s songs, but he also invites us to do the same. Defining spirituality as connectedness to something or someone transcendent, to others, and to our own selves, Jeff relates lyrics of the band’s songs to several crucial spiritual issues – the nature of faith and religious experience, understandings of God and Jesus, celebrating life, avoiding greed and over-indulgence, finding one’s identity, the importance of community, doing good, and awareness of our finitude. Along the way, Jeff is also in conversation with several biblical passages, as well as with spiritual greats such as John of the Cross, Ignatius Loyola, and Thomas Merton. I was instructed and inspired, and you will be too!" - J. Clinton McCann, Jr., Evangelical Professor of Biblical Interpretation, Eden Theological Seminary

"There’s something reliably inspiring about listening to anyone wax eloquent about whatever it is they deeply and truly love, whether or not you love it yourself.  Jeff’s point here isn’t to project his supernatural faith onto his favorite band, but rather to help their music draw his readers into what he calls following Jesus and I call humanism: Making the most of this life by learning to love, doing good work for others, and cultivating joyful gratitude for the many wonders of nature, including consciousness itself. So then, get out your headphones and read on." – Bart Campolo, Humanist Chaplain at the University of Cincinnati and co-author of Why I Left, Why I Stayed

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