Soldier Field - July 9, 1995
July 09, 1995
Jerry Garcia's last show.
Last non-medly, two-song encore: 11-03-91  - fireworks display set to Jimi Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner" after the show - The Band opened
Set 1: Touch of Grey
Little Red Rooster
Lazy River Road
When I Paint My Masterpiece*
Set 2: Shakedown Street
Samson & Delilah
So Many Roads
Samba In The Rain
Corrina > Drums > Space > Unbroken Chain
Black Muddy River
Box Of Rain
Attendees of this show
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I felt so bad for Jerry that night, he was in another zone except for Box of Rain and Black Muddy Water. The fat man looked wan, tired and sick. I had a bad feeling that I would never see him alive again. I just remember crying during Box of Rain.. Rest in Peace Jerry, you earned your rest.
Did anyone notice how the spotlight never really went on Jerry almost the whole show. The vibe was really off during the show. I still cannot put my finger on it. It was really bad karma that night.
I took my then girlfriend to Chicago to see her first show. I was pretty excited about it and looking forward to seeing some road tripper freinds, it had been about a year since I'd been to a show. Then I gave our tickets for the first show to a couple of friends I hadn't seen in awhile, planning to meet later. My girlfriend was a little surprised I just gave our tickets away, but she was happy to be there. She seemed a little irritated though when I agreed to watch someone's dog while he ran off to a hotel room for something, but she started to see how it was a kind community and people looked after each other. We were just wandering the "lots" taking it all in and things started getting stranger. A very happy tripped out deadhead struck up a conversation with the dog (I'm pretty sure he knew the dog's owner) and then with us. When he realized my girlfriend had not seen a show before, he reached into his big courdoroy pouch, pulled out a ticket and gave it to her, said he forgot he had it. He started talking to the "dog" about all the shows they had seen, that they should let us go see the show since she had never been, and (this is the weirdest part) the dog sidled up next to this kid and I swear the dog gave us this look like he would look after this kid while we saw the show! I was feeling pretty good just being back in the scene so I just busted out laughing, handed the leash to the kid, and told the dog to look after him until his friend came back. Then a woman with blonde dreads called to them and they both go bounding over to her, she says something like "love each other", waves in our direction, and they all walk off laughing that happy laugh. I was stone sober that day, but I felt so high, that funny feeing in your jaw, can't stop smilin', light as a feather, walking on air, love everywhere. I'm a believer, I was there.
We hugged and headed towards the show with one ticket, the show had already started, half ways there someone calls out "anyone need an extra?", I laughed and said something like "I knew you would have one for me". We got the ticket and went in. It was wonderful for us and my girlfreind was feeling the full measure, the high, the love, the community.
The next day a good friend blessed us both with a blissful liquid sacrement and we had a joyous time at the show. We headed out after the second encore and when the Star Spangled Banner started playing I wanted to go back in to see the "THIRD ENCORE". It still feels like I missed seeing Jerry play this amazing last encore. I've been told since that it was a recording.
I feel damn lucky to have been at those last shows! It felt like coming home. I saw many shows between 1982 and 1995 from coast to coast, I have magical memories from some, no memory of others, some seem like dreams. The last ones were two of the most memorable, not just for the music, but because we believed! There is truly nothing like a Greatful Dead show.
The band's music has brought us all together and gave us so much joy. Jerry, we miss you more than words can say. The music never stopped!
Just remember when you think you're crazy that you really are crazy, and that it's okay, and you feel so much better.
looking back there seemed to be a sad mood that night...so many roads, black muddy river... is this just hindsight? does anyone else feel the same?
I write here not as a DeadHead but as a jazz musician who likes things about the Dead that would put me in the minority.
However, I did some "research" after hearing a lot of claims about the decline in Garcia's playing during his final years. Admittedly, it was a point of interest to me solely because I initially thought that his playing got bad because of the drugs and other bad habits that were destroying him physically. I have listened to concerts from this last tour where on any given night, Garcia's playing is truly awful and cringe-inducing to hear. He seems completely incapable of constructing a simple musical phrase, whereas one of the hallmarks of his playing is clear, concise melodic lines that to this jazzer sound like he spent years studying Django Reinhardt and chromatic approach of bebop along with his claimed blues and bluegrass influences. So you'll hear him play terribly one night, and the next night he'll seem perfectly up to par.
But after digging around a bit, I found that it's not heroin and heart problems causing this. The oral history "Garcia", which I found at a local university library, has claims from insiders that this deficiency on Garcia's part was caused by a tendinitis-like muscle problem in his wrists which was developing toward the end of his life, which caused him pain and made his fingers unresponsive to usual stimuli. He apparently felt terribly about this limitation and decided to soldier on like a ball player playing through an injury. It was harder for him to move his hands when it was "acting up". So the problem was entirely physical and small-motor-skill related, and NOT the result of his mind being adrift on drugs.
My last show was Albany, I think, maybe after Giants? My mind these days..... Anyway, I too remember an awkward feeling this whole summer.. I was sick of the BIG arenas and would dream of seeing the guys in a small club or a Bar room with a stage too small. Looking back it was a star gone super nova.... Thankfully I was pulled into the void of that black hole. Where their are no stars and we are all stoned immaculate. (everyone plagiarizes a little bit.) It was in that void where I learned that the whole trip was and is part of a learning process or where knowledge meets wisdom. I learned that in music there was absolute truth and pure peace. I learned that music itself is a living breathing entity with the ability to take us places not yet known to others. The few artists that hold this gift today have to be discovered. You won't hear them on the radio. If we don't teach our children it will be for naught. Over the years the teaching still continues. Certainly without music my mind could have never made sense of this chaos. Or would it let me continue on in this realm. There was no turning back for Jerry. There was a reason the band stayed to watch those fireworks. It is the same reason I still listen to the music today. My Love and Peace to all, I am in fact, The SweenDog
Your words as a mentioned non-deadhead musician were kind and thankfully educated. I too knew of his ailment but we called it carpel tunnel. Jerry did lumber along like Big Ben Rothlisberger from the Pittsburgh Steelers but his mind would drift. He longed to be evolving and felt stuck to be responsible for what had now become a machine. Long, Big, Tours that kept many employed. He longed to branch out and try new things with new friends. A soul like his was never meant to be tethered. Being an addict and some type of musician myself and you a musician I am sure we both could understand. Hind sight can be a useful tool if we are willing to learn from it. My demons are at rest for the time being. I see how blessed I am and am careful to never stay in one spot too long. I wish you the best my friend. Peace and a GRATEFUL LIFE...
Worth going online to listen to some of this today. Especially the encore.
... you write 7-9-95 instead of yesterdays date - 7-9-12. Did it by accident almost twice ...
RIP Fat Man YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!