Well, after 13 years of living without the Grateful Dead...well...
Reality has set in. And, the absence of the "magical mystery tour" really does seem to "vanish in the air".
I think everyone was really tired when Jerry died. There is always that second wind where we could have all just took the leap. I think there was a point that things could have continued and not just continued but grew larger and brighter; some kind of new world that was underneath the ashes. But again, I think everyone was too tired.
Some people say that the Grateful Dead didn't like the deadheads, didn't like the scene, and were only doing it for the money.
It was just the other day that I was thinking about all this myself. I was watching a bunch of live footage of shows I had been to on youtube.com. Funny how it all comes rushing back. As I carused I noticed that old familiar thing happening; what people called the "dead phenomena". What came to the forefront in my mind was the realization that these guys couldn't have played all those songs over and over and over and over and over again...unless the songs were taking on their own life and becoming something new every night. No one loves money that much.
The question is...Was the Grateful Dead destined to continue it's own life/reality?
Was the Dead presented with that option? Yes.
Do the Dead want to be dead to the world? Only they know.
Do they feel they created a monster of Utopia?
Has there been a killing of the beast?
Did certain members want the spotlight just for themselves, and were thinking it is all theirs now with Good Ol, Jer out of the way?
Did their road only lead to self obsession and ruin, so they burned the bridge?
Were they just tired and wanting to sit by the pool?
Were they comfortable enough to just take all we gave them and leave us with a few tunes and coy remarks ("do something good").
The fact of the matter is... to some, the Grateful Dead were a carnival where they would go home after all the excitement and wake up with a belly ache. To others...a magical door opened up to another possibility of human potantial, life, and spirit. To the later it gave people's lives purpose into spirituality and the possibility of a new and improved reality. Some people (lots of people) came from less than sufficient family structures and lifestyles...I can't even tell you how many people's lives have been changed and turned around because of the Grateful Dead. To some, it was the beggining of breaking through the generic depressing reality that was forced upon everyone. It was a railway to different realities. A station where you could hitch a ride into the future or a way to get back to past lives. To me, it was a magical vehicle of transcendence. I could never be grateful enough.
Could the Dead have given something back to us, can they still now? What I mean by this is... we gave them all their money. Their car, houses, boats, food, drugs, hell we gave them theirselves, the band, everthing they experienced, and have. I know they say this all the time...but do they mean it...the Grateful Dead would have been nothing without the deadheads, the fans.
Could the Dead have given something back to us, can they still now?
I expect to see you all at Gratefulfest next week in Garrettsville, OH. Living proof that the Grateful Dead will never die. Tickets available at www.nlqp.com for probably the most amazing experience of my young life.
My question is this. What is the ‘it’ that we are (or are not) supposed to get over? Looking at this wonderful discussion and also elsewhere on the site, people have expressed a vast diversity of ‘its’. I will attempt to list some of these. They are in no particular order; some are far more important for me than others (as would be the case with anyone else out there). Here goes…
It….is a chosen lifestyle, freak flag and all that
It….is the best dancing party you ever knew
It….is a memory of wilder carefree times
It....is a love, for Jerry and the whole family
It… is cheerful tolerance of some indifferent albums, bum shows, dodgy songs, lost tickets..
It….is a grieving, both for Jerry and for what we personally have lost and left behind
It….is an accompaniment for mind altering experiments and other chemical adventures
It….is a collection of tiny musical moments that blow us away
It… is an addiction, a need that is almost physical
It....is transcendental experiences catalysed by music
It....is a community, comradeship and shared experience
It....is a simple appreciation of wonderful music played with inspiration
It….is an obsession, collecting shows, tapes, tickets; even competing over these things
It....is a trail of associations with people, places, events, experiences
It....is a world of images, meanings and melodies that can’t be defined yet mean so much.
It…. is a continuity over 40 years while other ‘its’ come and go
Get over all that? Or even half of it? You must be joking! It would take years of therapy and for what? Its not a burden is it? Course not. We have all been so enriched by ‘it’ in our own way and that’s why we are here.
This has been fun. What is ‘it’ for you? Can you express ‘it’ in one line?
First off, good music is timeless. Whether you listen to Mozart, Robert Johnson, or The Dead. That being said, if this was a site for another defunct band, say the Beatles or Led Zeppelin, I do not think the question would even come up. How many times a day can you turn on a classic rock station and here one of them groups? If you ask an average classic rock fan how many GD songs they know, they can probably name 3: Truckin', Casey Jones, and Touch of Grey. I think that the GD has a stigma attached to them, mainly from the "summer of love". If you tell people you are a dead head, you more often then not get the old hairy eyeball. People automatically think of "tune in, turn on, and drop out" and peace, love and harmony. Now, the tune in , turn on, and drop out, there is an argument there for and against, but I see nothing wrong with a little peace, love, and harmony. What these people don't understand is that even though the GD stopped being a relevant band as far as commercial success goes in the early 70"s, musically, they were giants up to the very end. If they don't want to experience the band ripping through a Jack Straw, listen to the fury in the playing of The Eleven, or experience the band going places where even angels fear to tread in a Dark Star or Playing in the Band, well that is their loss. I think, on the whole, most GD fans would not criticize someone else's choice in music, 'cause we've all been on the other side. As long as there is GD music to listen to, I will listen to it. We all should just keep spreading the word, and sharing the music with anyone that will listen.
I have a 3 year old who can sing Franklin's Tower and Truckin' word for word. He is now learning Casey Jones. How can anyone say to abandon the Band when Generations will discover them as they mature. The Beatles have been dead for 40 years but there are still countless hours of radio airplay dedicated to them.
Until someone gives me something better I will be a DEADHEAD.
Peace to all, share the music, share the LOVE
I don't consider these times "after Dead". The Dead gave us a huge library of phenomenal music, concert videos, great artwork, an unmatched legacy, stories, and a treasure trove of history, trivia and books. The study of this, our beloved band, can go on for a lifetime. It is like a never ending treasure hunt!!!!!! For starters, have we Deadheads ever gotten tired of listening to Grateful Dead music. The answer is no. Why not? The answer to that is part of the mystery that will go on forever. Fortunately we still have Bob, Phil, Bill, and Mickey left to carry on this most unique vein of creativity. Go see these legends when you can. It is wonderful to see them still creating and teaching. Recently I got a new book, "Grateful Dead Gear" which is another great read about our band. If you really want to have some fun, get a guitar, get some lessons, learn and sing some Grateful Dead songs. By doing that, you will move inside some of the songs, just exactly as our band did when they wrote, learned, and played the songs. You get the feel for the songs by playing and singing them. For a few moments you stand in the band's shoes and see from a very different and special perspective. Two closing points; first, unlike most bands, if you are a Deadhead, it truly is our band, it is shared, and given to us by them; it was so special they could not totally retain personal ownership of it. This is very different. Second, The Grateful Dead will never really die; it is that kind of music and a very complex and mysterious reality that takes on a life of it's own. How many Deadheads really believe that Jerry died compared to those who believe that he is simply a dimension away, still creating, still splashing color up in a sunset sky, still bringing music to those of us who listen for it? Generation after generation will continue to study our band and listen to the incredible sound, rhythm, and lyrics. This is a legacy that will fascinate our children and generations far beyond. If you are a Deadhead, be thankful for you hold onto something very special in human creativity.
The Grateful Dead will always be a part of my life. I tell my children about the dead, and I also have taught my students or turned them onto the Grateful Dead. It was the most incredible time of my life. I feel I have to pass it on! Of course my students are only in middle school so we made a deal... If I listen to your music, you have to listen to mine....So of course, I always play them a little of " the dead head culture!
Peace to you all!
Anyone who says it's not over was never there. It's very, very over. And I'm so glad I was there.
Yes, I think someone on this thread hit it. The 60's $ 70's produced great jam bands, the likes of which, are almost non-existent anymore. I listen to a lot of college radio, and the music is great, but the songs are too short. Maybe when a good new band crops up that is intricate, enticing, but also can put some good lengthy arrangements together that will lure you in and claim your attention, I do not see the Dead going away. Man almost all the great bands of the 70's had at least one concert jammer:
Outlaws: Green Grass and High tides
Neil Young: Down by the River
Springsteen: Kitty's Back
Grateful Dead: Pick one
Lou Reed: Heroin
Etc. Etc. Etc
I'm only too happy to download a good Phil Lesh and Friends just to listen to them jam out.
BUILD IT, AND WE WILL COME!
I perceive a number of interwoven threads both internally and in the comments I've read here. Did the soul-shaking "Dead experience" as a experience to get in the world die with Jerry? Subquestions within that are whether Phil or Ratdog can supply that experience and whether other jambands can do it. The deeper question is what was/is the necessary ingredient? Jerry? Not just Jerry but those individuals known as the band? That type of music? That kind of community?
Brewing underneath that question, ironically, is the hope that something that felt unique and magical when we had it was actually something formulaic and reliable!
Another thread is whether or not "It" -- any peak experience, really -- is something whose purpose in our lives is to be repeated over and over as an experience. How do I get back to "It"? Listen to recordings of favorite shows? Attend other musical events, or Burning Man, and hope to feel the same things?
Or is "Go out and do something with it" the best course? And, if I "go out and do something with it", will that bring me back to that feeling or to something else?
A lot of weird thoughts went through my head the day of the Golden Gate Park memorial event. One of them was about my (skeletal) understanding of Martin Buber's metaphor of the "God-shaped void." I thought that day that perhaps the void isn't like a lock into which God fits as the key but a void carved by God that one can't fill and which is the place from which one's own creative impulses act. I felt the loss of Jerry as that incurable void, and the sense that whatever comes from it in my life will probably not look like or feel like attending Dead shows!
Thanks for hearing the rambles.