• August 18, 2011
    http://www.dead.net/features/jerry-garcia/blair%E2%80%99s-golden-road-blog-what-if%E2%80%A6
    Blair’s Golden Road Blog - What If…?

    What if on August 10, 1995, you opened up your morning newspaper and read the following: “Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia was rushed to a Marin County, California, hospital late last night and underwent successful quadruple bypass surgery. Garcia, 53, was said to be resting comfortably and joking with doctors and nurses. He is expected to make a full recovery and should be able to tour again with the Grateful Dead “somewhere between six months and a year from now,” a hospital spokesperson said, “depending on how seriously he takes this episode.”

    It was the “IWAAJ” — “It was all about Jerry” — debate in this space a couple of weeks ago that got my mind wandering (again) to that great hypothetical: What if Jerry hadn’t died 16 years ago, and he had instead embraced the healthy lifestyle choices that would have perhaps allowed him to live this long? Would the Grateful Dead still be going strong? How would that turn of events have affected the course of our own lives? I know it’s difficult and probably fruitless to speculate, but let’s have a little fun with this.

    So many Dead Heads jumped ship from the end of ’93 through ’95 because of what they saw as a steady and alarming decline in Garcia’s playing and overall demeanor. Would they have come back to the fold if he rose, Phoenix-like, in the spring of 1996—slimmer, healthier (off drugs, diabetes in check), cheerier and also fully rehabbed for the debilitating carpal tunnel malaise that so affected his manual dexterity? Absolutely! It would be like the spring of ’87 (post-diabetic coma) all over again.

    “It is getting clearer now…
    I see Jerry singing ‘My Way,’
    then going into ‘Idiot Wind’
    with a 12-piece tuba section backing him."

    During his convalescence, no doubt the New Jerry would have gotten together with Robert Hunter to write some fresh tunes, and though going on the road was verboten for a while, perhaps the band could have cut a new album using the best from those writing sessions along with the strongest of the still-unrecorded songs the band already had, including “So Many Roads,” “Corrina,” “Days Between,” “Lazy River Road,” “Eternity” and “Liberty.” A shortened version of “Liberty” becomes a surprise radio favorite, and everywhere the revivified band goes on their spring and summer tours in 1996, they are hailed as great survivors! They close the summer with a free concert at the Polo Fields in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, broadcast live over HBO. In a nod to the band’s return from their mid-’70s hiatus, the fall tour consists of 45 shows in small theaters, five each in nine cities, spread over October and November. An all-star New Year’s Eve concert—this one a low-priced pay-per-view event at the Fillmore in SF featuring a slew of the Dead’s musical friends, including Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Pete Townshend, Bruce Hornsby, Paul Barrere and Bill Payne from Little Feat and many others, is favorably compared to The Last Waltz. Martin Scorsese even directs the telecast.

    OK, that fantasy is already out of control and we’re only a year into it! What really might have happened? Would the crowd problems that dogged the Dead’s last tours continue unabated? Probably. If ’87 is any indication, a renewed Grateful Dead would be an even greater draw than it was when they were at that creative low ebb in 1995. To keep the already large Grateful Dead organization humming along, the band would still have to play big arenas and “sheds” mostly; one hopes they would once and for all leave the stadiums behind. But would they have the sense and the willpower to do that? Maybe. Those of us who enjoyed traveling to shows always wished the band would go to Asia and Australia someday, just for kicks, but would the money-conscious brass allow that to happen?

    Would the band ever get around to playing all those great nuggets that the post-Jerry bands have thrived on the past decade-plus, from “St. Stephen” and “The Eleven” to weirder stuff like “Born Cross-Eyed” and “What’s Become of the Baby”? Wow, that’s a tough one to answer. Jerry had a very unusual relationship with the Dead’s back catalog. He once told me definitively that he would never play “The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)” again. That’s a shame. I dig it every time I hear it these days. I never understood his aversion to “St. Stephen” and “Dark Star”—especially the latter, as it was so mutable and timeless. It’s hard to imagine him singing “What’s Become of the Baby” or “Rosemary.” I think he viewed those as album curiosities from a past best forgotten. Might the band have played any of their classic albums in their entirety as so many bands do today—say a mini-tour performing Blues for Allah for that album’s 30th anniversary in 2005, or Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty for their 40th anniversary in 2010? I can’t see it, frankly, but you never know.

    Any chance the band would have at least started mixing up their sets more, escaping the bland predictability that set in around, oh, 1990? As controllers of the repertoire, Garcia and Weir both seemed locked into their musical habits, and though occasionally in interviews they paid lip service to the notion of shaking things up, it never happened while Jerry was still with us. It was Phil, a few years after Garcia’s passing, who first mustered the courage to step outside the box and look at the placement of songs and structure of shows differently. Bob soon followed in RatDog, and though Furthur went back to the “first-set song/second-set song” formulation a bit on their most recent tour, they are still much more adventurous in the way they present songs and where in the show they occur than the latter-day Grateful Dead. Would Phil have stepped up at some point and suggested some radical reinvention of the Dead’s “show”? I doubt it, but I’d like to think so.

    Because they were always more of a live attraction than a top recording band, the Dead might have been immune to some of the economic woes that befell so many groups in the digital file-sharing age. One would hope that they would not have increased ticket prices to the level of so many major attractions in the late ’90s and the 2000s. They always had a populist streak in them, so I think that’s a safe bet. To generate more income, though, they might have picked up the pace in archival releases somewhat. There was a time when Dick’s Picks and various multitrack vault releases were big sellers for the band, but that diminished over the years after Garcia’s death, aided by the flood of soundboard tapes that found their way onto Archive.org following Dick Latvala’s demise and were downloaded thousands of times for free (before the surviving band members put a stop to it).

    I’d like to think we might still have been treated to epic box sets like the various Complete Recordings collections (Fillmore West ’69, Winterland ’73 and ’77, Europe ’72, Hampton ’89), but there probably wouldn’t have been anywhere near the volume of releases that have come out. On the Garcia side, there’s nothing to suggest that he was at all interested in putting out archival CDs of his various bands, and chances are the wonderful All Good Things box set, with its abundance of unreleased studio material, would not have seen the light of day. It’s hard to picture Jerry putting in the time and effort to look at his past studio efforts in a new light. He was always more interested in moving forward.

    On a personal level, I would never have had the opportunity to write my biography of Jerry, Garcia: An American Life, while he was alive — my sources would have respected his privacy too much to talk to a journalist. I probably would not have been invited to work on archival releases or write liner notes. The Dead’s famed tape vault would have stayed in their hands, so there would be no release deal with Rhino and no Rhino/Grateful Dead website for me to write for. I’m sure I’d still be going dutifully to every local concert and no doubt buying CDs or downloads of every one they played. Can you imagine the crush of people trying to pick up CDs of a show they’d just attended? It would take hours to get out of there! And you can be sure that YouTube would be positively littered with videos of every song the Dead played at each show. Poor Jerry, having to look out on a sea of inattentive camera-phone videographers. “Remember when people listened?” he’d grumble one night to no one in particular backstage.

    The mind races with thoughts about what might have become of the JGB if Jerry had lived and John Kahn had died when he did? Would he form some completely different kind of group? What of Jerry’s troubled personal life? Would Sirens of Titan ever get made? (The New York Times: “Garcia’s directorial effort is a delectable but uncompromisingly weird confection…” ) Would Jerry host Saturday Night Live? Record a “duets” album? Support a presidential candidate?

    We’ll never know. But what do YOU think? What if Jerry had lived?

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What if on August 10, 1995, you opened up your morning newspaper and read the following: “Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia was rushed to a Marin County, California, hospital late last night and underwent successful quadruple bypass surgery. Garcia, 53, was said to be resting comfortably and joking with doctors and nurses. He is expected to make a full recovery and should be able to tour again with the Grateful Dead “somewhere between six months and a year from now,” a hospital spokesperson said, “depending on how seriously he takes this episode.”

It was the “IWAAJ” — “It was all about Jerry” — debate in this space a couple of weeks ago that got my mind wandering (again) to that great hypothetical: What if Jerry hadn’t died 16 years ago, and he had instead embraced the healthy lifestyle choices that would have perhaps allowed him to live this long? Would the Grateful Dead still be going strong? How would that turn of events have affected the course of our own lives? I know it’s difficult and probably fruitless to speculate, but let’s have a little fun with this.

So many Dead Heads jumped ship from the end of ’93 through ’95 because of what they saw as a steady and alarming decline in Garcia’s playing and overall demeanor. Would they have come back to the fold if he rose, Phoenix-like, in the spring of 1996—slimmer, healthier (off drugs, diabetes in check), cheerier and also fully rehabbed for the debilitating carpal tunnel malaise that so affected his manual dexterity? Absolutely! It would be like the spring of ’87 (post-diabetic coma) all over again.

“It is getting clearer now…
I see Jerry singing ‘My Way,’
then going into ‘Idiot Wind’
with a 12-piece tuba section backing him."

During his convalescence, no doubt the New Jerry would have gotten together with Robert Hunter to write some fresh tunes, and though going on the road was verboten for a while, perhaps the band could have cut a new album using the best from those writing sessions along with the strongest of the still-unrecorded songs the band already had, including “So Many Roads,” “Corrina,” “Days Between,” “Lazy River Road,” “Eternity” and “Liberty.” A shortened version of “Liberty” becomes a surprise radio favorite, and everywhere the revivified band goes on their spring and summer tours in 1996, they are hailed as great survivors! They close the summer with a free concert at the Polo Fields in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, broadcast live over HBO. In a nod to the band’s return from their mid-’70s hiatus, the fall tour consists of 45 shows in small theaters, five each in nine cities, spread over October and November. An all-star New Year’s Eve concert—this one a low-priced pay-per-view event at the Fillmore in SF featuring a slew of the Dead’s musical friends, including Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Pete Townshend, Bruce Hornsby, Paul Barrere and Bill Payne from Little Feat and many others, is favorably compared to The Last Waltz. Martin Scorsese even directs the telecast.

OK, that fantasy is already out of control and we’re only a year into it! What really might have happened? Would the crowd problems that dogged the Dead’s last tours continue unabated? Probably. If ’87 is any indication, a renewed Grateful Dead would be an even greater draw than it was when they were at that creative low ebb in 1995. To keep the already large Grateful Dead organization humming along, the band would still have to play big arenas and “sheds” mostly; one hopes they would once and for all leave the stadiums behind. But would they have the sense and the willpower to do that? Maybe. Those of us who enjoyed traveling to shows always wished the band would go to Asia and Australia someday, just for kicks, but would the money-conscious brass allow that to happen?

Would the band ever get around to playing all those great nuggets that the post-Jerry bands have thrived on the past decade-plus, from “St. Stephen” and “The Eleven” to weirder stuff like “Born Cross-Eyed” and “What’s Become of the Baby”? Wow, that’s a tough one to answer. Jerry had a very unusual relationship with the Dead’s back catalog. He once told me definitively that he would never play “The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)” again. That’s a shame. I dig it every time I hear it these days. I never understood his aversion to “St. Stephen” and “Dark Star”—especially the latter, as it was so mutable and timeless. It’s hard to imagine him singing “What’s Become of the Baby” or “Rosemary.” I think he viewed those as album curiosities from a past best forgotten. Might the band have played any of their classic albums in their entirety as so many bands do today—say a mini-tour performing Blues for Allah for that album’s 30th anniversary in 2005, or Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty for their 40th anniversary in 2010? I can’t see it, frankly, but you never know.

Any chance the band would have at least started mixing up their sets more, escaping the bland predictability that set in around, oh, 1990? As controllers of the repertoire, Garcia and Weir both seemed locked into their musical habits, and though occasionally in interviews they paid lip service to the notion of shaking things up, it never happened while Jerry was still with us. It was Phil, a few years after Garcia’s passing, who first mustered the courage to step outside the box and look at the placement of songs and structure of shows differently. Bob soon followed in RatDog, and though Furthur went back to the “first-set song/second-set song” formulation a bit on their most recent tour, they are still much more adventurous in the way they present songs and where in the show they occur than the latter-day Grateful Dead. Would Phil have stepped up at some point and suggested some radical reinvention of the Dead’s “show”? I doubt it, but I’d like to think so.

Because they were always more of a live attraction than a top recording band, the Dead might have been immune to some of the economic woes that befell so many groups in the digital file-sharing age. One would hope that they would not have increased ticket prices to the level of so many major attractions in the late ’90s and the 2000s. They always had a populist streak in them, so I think that’s a safe bet. To generate more income, though, they might have picked up the pace in archival releases somewhat. There was a time when Dick’s Picks and various multitrack vault releases were big sellers for the band, but that diminished over the years after Garcia’s death, aided by the flood of soundboard tapes that found their way onto Archive.org following Dick Latvala’s demise and were downloaded thousands of times for free (before the surviving band members put a stop to it).

I’d like to think we might still have been treated to epic box sets like the various Complete Recordings collections (Fillmore West ’69, Winterland ’73 and ’77, Europe ’72, Hampton ’89), but there probably wouldn’t have been anywhere near the volume of releases that have come out. On the Garcia side, there’s nothing to suggest that he was at all interested in putting out archival CDs of his various bands, and chances are the wonderful All Good Things box set, with its abundance of unreleased studio material, would not have seen the light of day. It’s hard to picture Jerry putting in the time and effort to look at his past studio efforts in a new light. He was always more interested in moving forward.

On a personal level, I would never have had the opportunity to write my biography of Jerry, Garcia: An American Life, while he was alive — my sources would have respected his privacy too much to talk to a journalist. I probably would not have been invited to work on archival releases or write liner notes. The Dead’s famed tape vault would have stayed in their hands, so there would be no release deal with Rhino and no Rhino/Grateful Dead website for me to write for. I’m sure I’d still be going dutifully to every local concert and no doubt buying CDs or downloads of every one they played. Can you imagine the crush of people trying to pick up CDs of a show they’d just attended? It would take hours to get out of there! And you can be sure that YouTube would be positively littered with videos of every song the Dead played at each show. Poor Jerry, having to look out on a sea of inattentive camera-phone videographers. “Remember when people listened?” he’d grumble one night to no one in particular backstage.

The mind races with thoughts about what might have become of the JGB if Jerry had lived and John Kahn had died when he did? Would he form some completely different kind of group? What of Jerry’s troubled personal life? Would Sirens of Titan ever get made? (The New York Times: “Garcia’s directorial effort is a delectable but uncompromisingly weird confection…” ) Would Jerry host Saturday Night Live? Record a “duets” album? Support a presidential candidate?

We’ll never know. But what do YOU think? What if Jerry had lived?

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What if on August 10, 1995, you opened up your morning newspaper and read the following: “Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia was rushed to a Marin County, California, hospital late last night and underwent successful quadruple bypass surgery. Garcia, 53, was said to be resting comfortably and joking with doctors and nurses. He is expected to make a full recovery and should be able to tour again with the Grateful Dead “somewhere between six months and a year from now,” a hospital spokesperson said, “depending on how seriously he takes this episode.”

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I can only wonder where they would have been had Brent not died. They would have played the Shoreline run and Brent Mydland would have been a part of the E90 tour. Who know? Perhaps we might have been anticipating an E90 box set instead of E72. Having been in attendance of the infamous '95 Deer Creek show, and the "Tour From Hell" on a whole, it was a particularly sad way for the band to end. Since then, I had frequently speculated that "if only they would have taken a year or two off", but in hindsight, I now believe that the crowd would probably have ruined it in the long run. The bad press, the higher security, the ever amassing crowds ect.
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about Sirens of Titan, because Jer was the right guy for that project. Sigh.
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Another thought provoking article, thank you kindly Blair. Maybe not exactly the question you asked, but my what if game centers around one of your previous articles- the one about the concerts when songs reappear. There's the infamous China Cat from 12/29/77- But what if Dark Star was played in 1977, or Cumberland Blues? What if Fire On The Mountain was played live for the first time in 1969- Or how about a Big Railroad Blues in 1978? What if Donna wrote a song called Sunset that Keith sang? Well, I always want to believe everything happens for a reason. As history unfolds, and acceptance is vital for tranquility- I wouldn't change a thing, even though it's amusing to ask, what if I could?
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was the name of a piece written by Richard B. Simon for Relix Aug 2005 (v32n5) Special ; 40 Years Of The Grateful Dead. Only one page, but a great read that's along this same line. Also in this issue are contributions from Blair J, Bear, Bruce Hornsby, Rock Scully, Butch Trucks, DL2, McNally, David Crosby & Wavy Gravy, and Bob Matthews & John Barlow. Also Tons of photos and self portrate by Ol' Jer himself. If you don't have a copy of this issue start looking in the used CD & Records Shops for one, you'll be glad when you find it. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Holy S#%*! It’s the COMPLETE Europe ’72 Box! On 73 Discs! ♪♫♥♫~♥☼ღ♥♪♫♪♫♥ The Music Never Stops ! ♥♫♪♫♪♥ღ☼♥~♫♥♫♪ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ " There is Nothing like a Grateful Dead Concert ! "
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Yes, wishful thinking , but maybe eventually there would have been fully acoustic versions of Dark Star and PITB. I'm talking full blown, (30 min.+) versions. Why not? - Just listen to the Bird Song jamming from the "Reckoning" sets. Yes, we'd miss the electrified dynamics but I'd bet it could have been replaced with something equally beautiful.The stadium concert scene would probably have ended, but maybe a "Burning Man" type concert event could have evolved- you know, with a "leave no trace" type of ethic. But yeah, Zuckfun, acceptance, tranquility. We're blessed with what we already have.
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well I would hope that he would have semi retired from the GD, played what he liked, when he liked, with whom he liked and joined in a few spectacular annual Grateful Dead reunion shows because he wanted to, not becasue he had to. Maybe they could have played that mythical Easter Island gig. But as the old rhyme goes If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. If turnips were swords, I’d wear one by my side And if "ifs" and "ands" Were pots and pans, There'd be no work for tinkers’ hands
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...TC had never turned to Scientology and Pigpen had never become a member of the infamous 27-Club? Well ... Lou Reed and Keith Richards may look like raisins but they're are still alive ... and so is David Crosby ... and a whole bunch of other guys ... :-) Micke Östlund, Växjö, Sweden ------------------------------ My record collection: jazzmicke
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perfectly. One thing for certain is that I would never have met my extremely tolerant wife and she would not have given birth to my beautiful daughter whom I am looking at this very moment. So that is a place that cannot be visited.
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What if they built their own venue somewhere where they could some what control this problems they were having with dead beat gatecrashers. What if it were the perfect venue, perfect sight lines, perfect sound and of course perfect landscape? Jerry was about moving forward as you stated Blair, maybe they embrace technology and webcast /pay per view style all their shows? What if this concept kept them going for years based on the light travel and so called home field advantage? I believe they would have evolved with the changing times just as the surviving members have. Can you see it now, Jer sitting in on a meeting discussing social networking? I think I can. Thanks again Blair, fun stuff as always. Nothing to tell now, let the words be yours I am done with mine...
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I've wondered this same thing a million times. My first show was in '89 due to my DOB, but I continued to see them about 50 times, all the way through the bitter end. The scene was a complete mess, the biggest problem being nitrous (sic). I always thought a revival was JUST around the corner though, there was an album in there between the songs you mentioned, Liberty, SMRs, Corinna. The band variations that followed (Further, etc) just don't cut it for me. I don't even see them when they are local, then again, I've got a job, two kids, and a mortage, so makes me wonder if I'd even see the GD if Jerry was still around. Wait, did I just say that? Of course I would. The other cool thing to think about is what if you could download a show the next day, like Phish and other jam bands are doing, that would be SUPER cool. Thanks Blair. Mark
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I bet they would have immediately embraced the tour Instant Live/Download idea. When I first saw that at Allman Brothers concerts around 2004, it was the coolest thing to get an official high quality recording of the show within minutes after the encore, then listen to it on the ride home. It would have been awseome if there would have been an "Old and in the Way" and "Bobby and the Midnights" reunion with all of the original members.
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Great topic Blair, I have wondered many times where we would all be if Jerry had survived. I would still be going to shows, still searching for the sound. I would like to think that Jerry lived to play, he had to play, could he have taken a year off? It would or could have turned into longer, with Phil's health deteriorating also, there would have had to have been a break for Phil to also get healthy. I don't think Jerry could have stopped even if he wanted to, it was what he lived for. But if he could have, I would like to think that all the bad press and bad vibes and bad people would have gotten behind them, especially if they had gone with the "Terrapin Station" concept that would have had them in a specially built concert hall where they could film, videocast, whatever, from. The constant touring and "tour lifestyle" would be gone, the crowds would dwindle, if the circus didn't come to town, there would be no crowd. Sure the show feel would be gone unless you lived close to the station or planned a vacation around a show, but Jerry and the band would still be cranking out sounds, which is what we all live for, and you would be able to download video, audio all the sights and sounds of a show without all the hassle. I would like to imagine that, if Jerry had woke up, his first words would have been, "Man, I'm tired, I think I'll slow down now"
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He "embraced the healthy lifestyle choices that would have perhaps allowed him to live this long" I am no health nut or anything but I can't see how one could live long the way that man lived. I can't blame him or any rock star. I always knew if I had the talent to play in a hugely successful rock band I'd be dead by now. Waaaay too many temptations, luxuries, and get whatever you want whenever you want with little repracussion. For some, it would be very hard to avoid... "I won't take your life won't even take a limb just unload my shotgun and take a little skin"
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drchampagneIf Jer were still with us, everything would be different now, from top to bottom, for me. I like the way you dream Blair. XXXJer
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Gauging from your response, I'm guessing you're not a big B&TM fan blairj. I think their first album is pretty cool. Call me a byproduct of the '80's, but I liken it to a "highly polished" gem. I also think it would have been awesome if Jerry could have released more solo studio albums like Cats Under The Stars and Run For The Roses.
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Too slick, songs weren't good. Excellent players, though! Went to a couple of gigs, I'm not sure I ever made it all the way through one... There was a pretty good live video of them I have buried in my VHS stacks somewhere....

I'm also not a fan of Run for the Roses particularly. Cats I dig.

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You want to know what it would have been like had Jerry gotten healthy after a "health scare" in 1995. You don't have to look very far. 1986 and 1992. Maybe, the third time around could have been a charm. If measures didn't change from the band on down to deadheads.......We would be right where we are, today.
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Bobby, might have gotten the lyrics to Truckin' right :) In keeping with GD tradition, we'd be looking for a keyboard player, as the hot seat claims another. Day Job returns to encore slot. Ohhh what could have been.....
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In some versions of the spacetime Jer' is still strummin'.Just not in our particular stream. Could be up to anything. We got a lot and more evolved from that. Grateful for the ride. Just turned 68 today. Never thought I'd have lived this long. Blessed and graced past drugs alcohol,telomere malfunctions,and much else into today. A miracle every day. I love you more than words can tell Listen to the river sing sweet songs To rock my soul... Stuck in my head all last night. Plan on dancin' tonight with my Sugar Magnolia/Mississippi Queen. There's a band down by the riverside. Peace Jer' whatever you're up to. It MUST have been the Roses Bear xiv
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hate to break everybodies bubble, but my dad always told me when I was a kid "there are no What If's".........he also said "it's a sick world out there".......he was a young man during WW 2, so no wonder he thought that........BUT I wish Jerry had lived & gotten healthy, just for his sake!
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I can't imagine. maybe I could have in 1995, or even 96 or 97... but I have long since accepted that once it has happened... nothing left to do... not that I don't miss him, but not in a way that I wish things were different. in complete acknowledgement and acceptance is where I found healing. The scene was beleaguered by a multitude of pressures, and one way or another, something had to give... and this was the one cosmic event that would change it all. In the aftermath of the great He's Gone of '95 we have all these new bands, and new takes on the music, and as you point out Blair, a new relationship with songs Jerry refused to play. We have a large and dynamic festival culture, that while deeply influenced by the Dead tours of the past, has gone beyond just "us" - it's all become something far bigger! Even the huge growth of Burner/Burning Man culture was, IMO, partially spurred on by Jerry's passing... so much has been influenced by Deadhead's and by Jerry, directly and indirectly. I might get a lot of flame for saying this, but I don't see it could have gone down any other way. I hope Jerry felt no pain. We had JJG for 53 years on planet earth - and thankfully so very much of it was recorded! (~);} happycat! >^.^<
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No flame here deadheadland, back in the long ago several conversations about Jerry would lead to a comment by someone saying "do ya think Jerry knew it was all coming to an end?" The whole "hippy" scene was ending, just 4 years later woodstock 99 would go up in flames, lots of young heads didn't even want to hear anything about the dead, it was an "old scene". Jerry was getting death threats, the carpal tunnel had to have been painful and frustrating for him, I don't want to think that on that day that he entered serenity he knew it was over, but I do think he knew something that we will never know. I miss Jerry every day, he was a powerful warrior in his time, unfortunately, nothing lasts.
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Jerry realizes that the Dead are a large part of his problems. The band goes into semi-retirement, playing about 6 gigs a year. Jerry forms an all acoustic band, which dips heavy into the back catalogue, way back! He also decides to try his hand with more experimental jazz-like settings, recording an album with Anthony Braxton, and another with Wadada Leo Smith. Garcia Band also breaks up, since he realizes that some of "those folks" are also not good for his health. Starts doing work for film soundtracks, and then tours with an eclectic rotating group of musical companions under the name Jerry and Friends. Their popularity rises, and based on an obscure comment he made to CNN, soon finds himself running for President. HIs guru-like sayings play well in middle-America, and he wins, upon being sworn in makes Wavy Gravy Defense Minister, and Micky Hart's uncle minster of finance. Robert Hunter becomes Poet Laureat, all drugs are made legal, but Fox news is made illegal. I better stop now!
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...we know he wouldn't have become Katy Perry's or Lady Gaga's new guitar player.
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Upon release from the hospital Jerry vows to take the Grateful Dead on tour to Japan. The press eats it up and starts dubbing the tour "the double phoenix tour" and dwells on Jerry's remarkable ability to come back from the brink. The Dead tour to huge crowds in Japan and quickly add a series of concert performances in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City. They negotiate a deal with the government there to step up efforts to repatriate the remains of MIAs. The press now dubs the tour "Here Comes Sunshine". In typical fashion, Jerry shrugs off the hype and publicity by commenting that they just want to do the right thing for folks. From Vietnam, they travel to Cambodia to play at the holy shrine. From there they swing over to Russia to play a series of performances in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Rostropovich joins them on stage in St. Petersburg to add cello solos to "Mississippi Half-Step Toodeloo". Upon return to the US, the Dead announce that they will now take time off from touring to set up a new foundation to channel money into many worldwide charities. In true Dead fashion they simply announce-stay tuned folks, we'll let you know what's up when we figure it out. now lets go run and see
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10 years 4 months
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I'm having some fun thinking about how if the GD had continued with a healthy Jerry (and everybody for that matter), the effect it would have had on the whole jam band genre that we have come to know today. Certainly Phish was already on the rise in a big way but they really warped into the forefront post GD. That void also left a large musical hole to be filled. I know that speaking for myself, Jerry's passing and the end of the GD freed my musical mind to really explore what was out there.
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11 years 5 months
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Interesting issue... I think the jam band scene probably would've flourished as it did even if the Dead were still around... What's that Paul Simon line from "Boy in the Bubble": "Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts..." He was probably thinking more Sinatra, Elvis, Beatles, U2, whatever, but my point is, a lot of young folks into jamming wanted their own generation's bands to fill that niche; thus moe. and SCI and Phish and the others of that first wave of cool jam bands...
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11 years 5 months
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The Dead always had that one thing that almost all of the post modern (1990's to current) jam bands lack and that is soul. Having a good solid groove is also a plus and helps. It's virtually impossible for me to find something that remotely feels like emotion from the vast majority of the groups in the "trendy" jam band scene, though I've tried. The psuedo-jam-bluegrass bands don't have soul, and neither do the ones who try to write funny lyrics and/or throw in a handful of clever tight musical twists wrapped around with endless, non-dynamic noodling minus the groove that seems to go nowhere. For the most part, they've become sterile and generic. Some of the first wave jam bands that have always stood out above the rest for me, who had/have the groove and soul that moves me were/are Aquarium Rescue Unit, Blues Traveler, Govt Mule, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and Primus, whereas Phish, Widespread Panic, The Dave Matthews Band and SCI to name a couple all seemed to lack any real emotion to me. It's as if they tried too hard to . I'm not trying to cut on any of them, as they all have their moments, but as a whole, they never really did it for me. A couple of newer bands who I think really have soul and the groove, and who frequent the jam-oriented festival scene, though I wouldn't necessarily pigeonhole them as "jam bands", are Lettuce/Soulive, Dumpstaphunk. They have the soul and the groove. Bands like The Grateful Dead, The Allmans, Little Feat and many others who came out of the '60's set the bar impossibly high for most of the newer bands to come in and try to create the same vibe while mainting originality. It's all about the groove and the soul. To bring this back to Jerry Garcia, even at his worst of days, he was still oozing with soul. The last flash of that which I experienced wasn't at the last show the Dead ever played, but was the night before during Visions of Johanna. I think, if he were still alive and healthier, JG would have continued to set the bar ever higher in regards to emotion, soul and the groove.
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9 years 11 months
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Spacebrother, you're right on it about the jam bands. One thing all those groups cannot really get away from is that their roots are in the Grateful Dead. That's cool for playing in that genre, but the Grateful Dead's roots are in the blues, folk, country, R&B, New Orleans, reggae, cowboy music, jug bands, jazz, and foundational rock'n'roll. So the Dead are just one step closer to the source, which is a big part of where their soul comes from. The other thing the Grateful Dead have that sets them apart from all others is an individual named Robert Hunter, a songwriter easily in the same class with Bob Dylan and a very few other great lyricists. That's one reason I DO enjoy going to Furthur shows; where else are you going to hear all these incredible songs? As to where the Dead would have gone had Jerry survived 1995, it probably would have been best for them to just come together for the occasional tour, a la Rolling Stones, and then in between all of them could work at their own pace on what ever caught their interest. I think they would have gotten more into world music. I certainly would continue to follow avidly where any of them went, like I do now with 7 Walkers and Rhythm Devils. There are times I actually think I enjoy Garcia music more from his side projects than with the Dead, especially in the later years when in spite of their talents they did get into a rut and lost that creative fire that gave them their start. ~ I'll meet you some morning in the sweet by and by
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11 years 4 months
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I wrote a poem recently that goes like this: Resurrecting Reagan What a world this would be If John Hinckley Had been a better marksman I imagined a much rosier outcome than what we got, but then a friend of mine pointed out that under such a scenario, George H. W. Bush would have become President eight years sooner. I, of course, had neglected to aim past the target.
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...or at least that's how my "What if", that I often roll around in my head, goes. Nobody in Garcia's shoes does this: wakes up and says, 'things aren't going my way. The fans are screwing up our tours, our organization is bloated with hangers-on who either need a paycheck or are more than willing to feed my jones, the music is stale, my health is in the crapper...I'm going to shave this frickin' beard and move to kona, stay at Matt Kelly's on the way down low for a while, recoop....disappear... My true friends will help make up the story, luminaries down on the prank will attend the funeral to support the myth...and I'll be free. Died of a cardiac in rehab - who ain't gonna believe that! Maybe I'll take up the ukelele, check out some coral reefs...shhhhhh...." Living here in San Rafael, I swear a Jerry lookalike went by in the passenger seat of an 80s model blue honda accord the other day...a little slimmer, suntanned... Re-emerge at the opening night gig at Phil's future shed in Fairfax...I'll be there to witness..... one can dream...
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11 years 5 months
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A variant on the old Jim Morrison and Elvis "we-never-saw-the-body" fantasy. If you're right, then he's about due to start playing again! When do tickets go on sale?
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11 years 5 months
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I like that dream.
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7 years 11 months
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Jer wud still be touring with the Dead, the JGB and other projects.Rather obvious, isn't it? If only ...... Blair, I'd like you to consider blogging on How to Talk to a Dead Critic (Hater?) - in other words, how to counter the usual criticisms of the band, primarily that they were musically sloppy and frequently low energy (especially in the 80s and beyond). Once in a while you get shown the light In the strangest of places if you look at it right.
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7 years 11 months
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I'm no Reagan fan, but your violent fantasies are really out of place on Dead.net, in American politics (or anywhere else for that matter). I can't imagine a single member of the Dead endorsing your post, much less not being repulsed by it.Your poetry sucks, dude. As the Dead sang, "Keep Your Day Job." Once in a while you get shown the light In the strangest of places if you look at it right.
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48 years 10 months
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yeah, Mike Edwards, Mr.TheEleven is sooooooo right, dude; like totally. like right ON!!!nobody in the Dead had an opinion, so why should you have yours? we're all fluffy innocents here and so were the band. are you mad? hey....if i have to bend over and take it every day, why shouldn't you? shame on you for proffering an imaginary scenario. i offered you my hand in this limp-wristed, saccharine healing circle and you rejected it. you drop your blinkers, boy? YEAH, you suck! you lilly-livered, liberal...... oh, hang on. you were just expressing an opinion, weren't you? oh MAN!, i jumped straight in without thinking; what a silly-billy. and there's me thinking i was the nation's conscience. i just didn't think it through, did i? Mr.TheEleven; no intelligent girl likes it when a man tries too hard to get laid. as for the blog itself, i couldn't care less. it's 2011.

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  • Mike Edwards
    7 years 1 month ago
    Steaming Hot
    Mmmm...pancake's.
  • Default Avatar
    Anonymous (not verified)
    7 years 1 month ago
    gone with the wind?
    yeah, Mike Edwards, Mr.TheEleven is sooooooo right, dude; like totally. like right ON!!!nobody in the Dead had an opinion, so why should you have yours? we're all fluffy innocents here and so were the band. are you mad? hey....if i have to bend over and take it every day, why shouldn't you? shame on you for proffering an imaginary scenario. i offered you my hand in this limp-wristed, saccharine healing circle and you rejected it. you drop your blinkers, boy? YEAH, you suck! you lilly-livered, liberal...... oh, hang on. you were just expressing an opinion, weren't you? oh MAN!, i jumped straight in without thinking; what a silly-billy. and there's me thinking i was the nation's conscience. i just didn't think it through, did i? Mr.TheEleven; no intelligent girl likes it when a man tries too hard to get laid. as for the blog itself, i couldn't care less. it's 2011.
  • Mr.TheEleven
    7 years 2 months ago
    Hey Mike Edwards - Keep Your Day Job
    I'm no Reagan fan, but your violent fantasies are really out of place on Dead.net, in American politics (or anywhere else for that matter). I can't imagine a single member of the Dead endorsing your post, much less not being repulsed by it.Your poetry sucks, dude. As the Dead sang, "Keep Your Day Job." Once in a while you get shown the light In the strangest of places if you look at it right.
  • Mr.TheEleven
    7 years 2 months ago
    Too obvious a blog topic
    Jer wud still be touring with the Dead, the JGB and other projects.Rather obvious, isn't it? If only ...... Blair, I'd like you to consider blogging on How to Talk to a Dead Critic (Hater?) - in other words, how to counter the usual criticisms of the band, primarily that they were musically sloppy and frequently low energy (especially in the 80s and beyond). Once in a while you get shown the light In the strangest of places if you look at it right.
  • marye
    7 years 2 months ago
    really
    I like that dream.