The days might be getting shorter, but you can add some sunshine to your day by listening to Dave Cope and The Sass. The latest self titled album came out about a month ago and it’s been keeping me smiling and intrigued the whole month through. The music has a feeling of nostalgia associated with it. And not in a “trying to be something from another time” way, but in a genuine and authentic way that really puts me in my 9 year old body, in the car with my dad, listening to Boston on repeat. I got the chance to sit down with Dave recently at Milkcrate Cafe to reveal all of my theories about his album to him.
So here’s the overarching theme: Our lives in terms of relationships tend to exist in cycles. The entire album tells the story of this relationship cycle that we all go through. You can start at any song and follow it all the way through and the story would still make sense. The first song on the album, Seeing Things, is actually the “end” of the story. The main character is looking back at everything he's learned, and everything he did. He’s been through the highs and lows, he’s loved and been broken. He’s healed himself and now he’s seeing things clearly and learning from it. “It’s that feeling of love that he feels for one person transmuted into a love for everybody...the person is realizing, if I can take that love that I feel and then turn it into a song or turn into something for everybody, then that’s what giving really is. That’s what I can learn from taking.” The rest of the album is a memory, leading up to this moment of understanding. He’s looking back on this relationship and putting allllll the pieces together.
“It’s that feeling of love that he feels for one person transmuted into a love for everybody...the person is realizing, if I can take that love that I feel and then turn it into a song or turn into something for everybody, then that’s what giving really is. That’s what I can learn from taking.”
The next few songs, My Way Out, Living in the Middle, and High, are all centered around self development. The character is learning how to be himself in the world, and these songs follow that journey. In My Way Out, the character is faced with how to handle the insanity and overwhelming nature of living in the world right now. He comes to the conclusion that “going crazy was [his] way out of the madness.” Dave explained it this way: sometimes the only way out is through. In this case, in order for the character to deal with madness of the world in which he lives, he has to let himself be a little crazy. And where Living in the Middle lacks that “crazy” feeling, showcasing a bit more of a mundane existence, High makes up for it, exploring society’s need to drop out and numb themselves with other substances, whether that be alcohol, drugs or even love and attention.
If Your Mama Only Knew finally introduces the love interest. Based on Dave's actual experience as a teacher, this is a more innocent look at what kids might see as “rebelling.” Cutting class, sneaking out of the house, that kind of thing. This song is a beautiful contrast to Nine Lives, which follows the same character into her adulthood, where her rebellious nature can’t really be considered cute or innocent anymore.
NOW THESE NEXTS SONGS Y’ALL. THEY GOT TO ME. Show Me Your Love is a song about ALMOST getting it right. You know how it is. You’ve gone through the relationship highs and the break up lows. You swear you’ll see the damn red flags next time. You’re guarded, you got that wall UP. So maybe you need a little more coaxing to let someone in again. Maybe it’s more of a “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” attitude. And by that I mean, yeah, I like you, but I’m not going to TELL you that until you show me WITHOUT a doubt that you like me. Because I’m not taking any chances or risking any heartbreak this time. That’s what this song is about. And it’s definitely unfair to the love interest. Ideally you should be getting as much as you’re giving, right? Well this guy is not into that. Dave tells me that loving someone just because they love you is also part of the problem he’s trying to address. Loving someone just because they show you love and attention can get you into just as much trouble as giving too much without getting anything back.
And that brings me to Dog Days. This is the song about the good times. When everything is relaxing and loving and wonderful. I really love this song. There’s nothing in the lyrics or the music to indicate that the relationship is doomed, but somehow I got the feeling that it would end anyway. I’m guessing this is because the song is comparing the relationship to the dog days of summer...and summers inevitably end...so even when you’re trying to enjoy the moment you still know it’s going to be over.
Well that makes a lot of sense.
Moving on the THE BREAK UP SONG. Josephine really is the perfect angry break up song. It’s the stage of the breakup that is oscillating back and forth between three different stages at once; denial, anger and bargaining. The character exclaims how much he loves Josephine throughout the song, while also throwing in little jabs about how she’ll never see him again and the little things he really doesn’t like about her.
And now, we come to the finale of the album, Brings My Whole Day Down, followed by From the Moment… In Brings My Whole Day Down, our character is doing pretty well! He’s over Josephine, he’s enjoying his day, he’s not even thinking about this girl who broke his heart. Josephine? Who’s Josephine?
“I sit next to a couple so young and in love now, they’re kissing and holding hands. And I remember you are gone. And you are never coming back to me again”
Oh, that Josephine. Yup. This song cut to the core of me. Healing is definitely not a linear process. It takes time and usually when you take two steps forward, you take one back. This song addresses that idea in such an organic way. leading into the final, more introspective song, From the Moment… which seems to me to be the character almost admitting defeat. That he doesn’t really know everything and that life hurts sometimes. A lot. It’s beautifully brings us all the way back around to square one. It’s the perfect place to start.
I HIGHLY recommend listening to the album again and again. It’s really about a journey to understanding how to love and how to be in this world. As Dave explained it, “So much in life is controlling our reaction to things.” Sometimes we have to relive the same cycle until we’ve learned what we needed to know. The album as a whole tells a story, but even as we were talking about it, the story seemed to be evolving. Let it evolve for you, too.
You listen to Dave Cope and the Sass here. And follow him on instagram here!