At first hearing, it’s difficult to pinpoint what The Avett Brothers are referring to in their hit song, Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise, when they sing, “There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light.” Their incredibly creative and stunningly beautiful music video (below) may offer some clues.
The video artistically depicts the development of an urban area. The city grows until it is full of signs and lights and movement, a sign of wealth and prosperity. Yet they sing of a kid with a “head full of doubt” who can only scream in response to the chaos of the city. So maybe the darkness flooded in light is our urban areas. Maybe it is walking into an airport and seeing every head turned toward the light of a phone, an iPad or a computer. Maybe it is our politics, our media, our cars, our music and film industry, our constant movement and continual failure to slow down. The video ends with the destruction and decay of this urban area being overtaken by new grass and wilderness; not a disappointing alternative to the chaos of the city.
I don’t know if the irony was intended, then, when the Avett Brothers performed this song at the Grammy Awards, a place full of glitz and glam and blinding lights. When they close, “There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light, and I’m frightened by those who don’t see it.” Is it we, the viewers, who really fail to see it?