Mr Phil Lesh –
I have never written you before, and in all certainly never will do so again. I began listening to the Grateful Dead in 1984, immediately fell in love with the live performance (who couldn’t?), took up the bass, and was a passionate follower of the band and a devotee on the bass ever since.
I am quite sure you will not care about what follows, but I am writing it anyway. Given how much of my soul and my life I have poured into it, it would be absurd to expect otherwise. You have communicated much to me over our lives, I know you are as set in your ways as I, certainly this is a one-way message that will irritate you before you get much further. So to speak.
As of tonight, I have decided, the last 25 years of my life have been nothing short of a colossal mistake. As deeply as I have loved that band and the music, I am so utterly disappointed and discouraged at your turning the Grateful Dead into an organ of Statism and tyranny, indeed, proudly so, that I am seriously questioning my entire history of life choices right now.
Although there are a variety of issues I have had with how you have treated certain things over the years, I have always tried to err on the side of cutting slack and forgiveness . Everyone makes mistakes, after all, certainly me as much as anyone. Why expect perfection from mere mortals, particularly those who obviously have had so much amazing good to give?
But this is no trifling matter. And although I have always known many in the band (with supposedly an exception of Garcia, although obviously you would know the actuality there far better than I) to be Leftists, I would never, up until a few months ago, have been able to imagine the sheer degre to which they would allow themselves, and the band’s name, and by extension the Deadheads themselves, to become nakedly utilized for the expansions of government power, regulation, control of the economy, law-making, hypocrisy, and use of power as advanced by modern-day Statist Democrats. To say that this willful conversion from what used to be a tolerant, freedom-loving phenomenon into what it is shocks me is an understatement. That my own personal tendency toward Libertarianism came from such nurturing is, at the moment, a cause of great sadness and insecurity on my behalf.
But that is not your problem, I know, it is mine. All of this is, of course, my problem, not yours. There is no sharing of disappointment, of letdown, of years wasted, in the egalitarian manner held in such sacred regard by your ideology. This is, of course, personal. And deeply so.
When various friends of mine began throwing out entire tape and CD collections of yours last fall, when “the Dead” threw themselves full-force into an election campaign between two horrendous, appalling candidates…well…let’s just say that the temptation was resisted. I mean, heck, everyone I knew – other than me – felt that this was a moment of great choice, a decision to be regarded for generations, and such. So while I found your behavior to be consistent with the recently annoying (and to my eyes juvenile) behavior recently displayed in completely unrelated ways, I didn’t exactly throw my DVDs on the fire. Nor, of course, my bass guitar, an expensive, hand-crafted beauty, which people of all stripes had raved about over the years because it was completely self-evident at what a masterpiece it (not it’s player) was.
When the jokes about what a bunch of tools the Deadheads had become, I certainly didn’t resist, because after fiascoes of seeming con-artistry such as the Terrapin Station Project, I wasn’t prepared to argue. Years since Jerry died went by. Bob Weir increasingly turned into a neo-Jerry (only aesthetically, of course), which was/is stranger than any Mind Left Body jam.
But then there is the last several weeks. Playing at the inaugural political ball for a bunch of tyrannical statists. Hosting the founder of the PMRC, Tipper Gore, as a drummer. Meeting with the Obam Administration itself, for goodness sake.
It is too much. I have made a huge mistake with my life. I am pathetic. When jokes about people saying if they had known this about you guys back in the 80’s and 90’s, they would have become lawyers or corporate middle managers by now came out, I laugh now, sure, but I also cry. I thought you guys believed in freedom enough to not become part of the machinery of tyranny. I was obviously greatly mistaken. Just this night, I have joined the increasing numbers of your ex-fans who have discarded every single item of your music and references to you…except of course for my hand-signed Jerry photo. I am quitting the bass guitar, to sell to some non-Deadhead, and throwing away huge parts of my spiritual existence. And I regret everything – everything – that has ever happened in my life that involved the Grateful Dead, with the singular exception of watching Jerry Garcia smile at me during Estimated Prophet.
I know you do not care, I suppose I should not either. It was my mistake to have done so for so long.
thanx phil 4 showing us all how it's done! peace chief sunrise
I took a bunch at the ABB show last night with Bob and Phil
I want to thank you for all of the amazing work and dedication you put into being the best bass player in the world. And this is from somebody (who in his day) watched Jaco 3-4 times a week. at the Lions Den in North Miami and the Brothers 2 lounge in Fort Lauderdale. Not only that but your book was very articulate you never cease to amaze me.
And the road goes on forever....
but hey, extended birthdays are okay...HBD!
You're the man Phil! Happy Birthday!
"When the smoke has cleared she said, that's what she said to me. You're gonna want a bed to lay your head and a little sympathy"
You're almost seventy, man, don't you think it's about time you got a real job?
*The white zone is for loading and unloading only*
Happy Birthday to you....xoxoox Gypsy Cowgirl
Happy Birthday Phil.....xoxo Gypsy Cowgirl
69 years young and still carrying the torch. Thanks for keeping the flame burning with all the grate friends you have assembled over the year to brighten up our lives.
If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.