Today’s Jerry Week entry is not coming to me too easily. So I thought I’d just write a little about my history as a Deadhead.
I probably started listening to the Grateful Dead in the mid-eighties just as I began listening to other groups from the 60′s and mostly rejecting the pop music of the day. Something about the music of the era spoke to me and I filled my twelve-year-old brain with Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Bod Dylan, The Stones, The Beatles, The Who and, The Grateful Dead. I think it was late in eighth grade when my friend’s dad gave him two cds for his birthday: Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced and Big Brother & The Holding Company – Cheap Thrills. I immediately taped those and began to digest their contents.
With my radio tuned to classic rock and tapes playing as much of the stuff as I could copy from friends or from the radio, I was enveloping myself in the music of the past and loving it. I dubbed copies of American Beauty and Skeletons In The Closet and wore them out. But I soon had all of the albums and, having moved, I made new friends who actually had seen the Grateful Dead. One gave me my first live tape (1981-05-05 Glens Falls, NY) and, that Spring, they invited me to join them for the shows at the Cap Center. My parents denied me those shows just as they had denied me all concerts at that point.
Summer of 1991 approached and, with it, another tour. Then that fateful day of June 14th arrived and my life changed forever.
(Read about it here.)
Anybody who really gets it will tell you that The Grateful Dead were more than just a rock band. And they weren’t just a lifestyle choice, either. They were troubadours bearing a message more complex than peace and love. Theirs was of higher thought and interconnectedness; groupthink and grasping after the elusive “it”. Jerry Garcia, although he casually rejected the mantle of leadership, bore that weight and guided us into places no other music has uncovered.
Have a listen to some of that RFK ’91 show: