The Grateful Dead

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I grew up with classic rock and 80’s top 40 music and a little bit of country. I preferred classic rock and while my friends were playing Madonna I was dressing like Stevie Nicks. I was the only 10 year old who knew who Mott the Hoople was. I still don’t think anyone my age knows who they are. I listened to ELO, Led Zeppelin and more. I knew most of the bands from the 70’s.

In 1987, I discovered a new to me band of a bunch of old dudes. Touch Of Grey hit the radio charts. I loved the song as did everyone else. But I wanted to hear more from them because I had no idea who they were. I asked my dad why we didn’t listen to them, he said it wasn’t his kind of music. I know right. What the hell?!

I found a few albums, but you know how hard it was hard to find used Grateful Dead albums? People don’t sell them lol. I was able to find two, American Beauty and From the Mars Hotel. Actually the Mars Hotel was a cassette. While looking I also found Janis Joplin’s Pearl album. I think I still have that. I lost a lot of my sentimental items over the years.

I was an instant Dead Head. Even through my NKOTB fan phase. When I got into high school my friends thought my music was weird. But then something weird happened. More and more people were listening to the Dead, Janis, Zeppelin… it was like they finally caught on!

Who Was Jerry Garcia? We Asked the Guy Who Photographed Him for Two Decades.

The end of my senior year I found out the Grateful Dead was coming to Boston (I lived in Southern Maine) My best friend and I made plans to go. Unfortunately she was in a tragic accident that summer and was in ICU for a while. She wasn’t going to the show and I didn’t want to go without her.

When the show came around in October the tickets were sold out and she was still in recovery. Joe suggested we at least hit the show to walk around, see the sights and listen from the parking lot. My friend wasn’t able to go, so we went without her.

We spent about two hours walking around before the show but decided to leave before the show started. I recall buying some memorabilia but I no longer own any of it unfortunately. I didn’t know that was my one and only opportunity to see The Dead live.

I had just started my first job at a grooming salon in end of June of 95. I didn’t know anyone really. But I remember walking in to work on August 9th and a co worker walked up and hugged me crying. She told me Jerry died. All of my other co workers were confused. She said she was waiting for me to come in because she had seen the dancing bears patch on my backpack and I was the only person who would understand.

One of my newspaper clippings I have been able to save

Much like Bob Dylan, I appreciated the dead differently than I did most other bands. I didn’t care what Janis was saying, I just loved her voice. But the dead told stories that were fun to hear and wrote songs that spoke to me. If you ask me what my favorite song is I won’t know. But if you push I would say Scarlet Begonias. It just is.

If you asked my second favorite, it’s Ripple. If I’m having a bad day, feeling sad or just want to chill, this is my go to song. Jerry’s voice and Roberts words are therapeutic.

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they’re better left unsung
I don’t know, don’t really care
Let there be songs to fill the air

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of men

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall, you fall alone
If you should stand, then who’s to guide you
If I knew the way I would take you home

La da da da La da da da da
La da da La da La da da da
La da da da La da da da da
La da da da La da da da da

Jerry co wrote that song with Robert Hunter. The poet of the Grateful Dead. Robert Hunter passed away last week at the age of  78. I came across this article this am and prompted me to finish this post. 

When I named my standard poodle, I named her Sugar Magnolia, because she’s a white poodle. I have already decided to name my next standard poodle Althea. Goes along with a cat I use to have, Sugaree.

I have so many other favorite Dead songs, if you are a fan I’m sure you understand. If haven’t listened to them I suggest you do. If you don’t like one song, find another. They had such an varying style you are sure to find at least one you like. Or you may end up a Dead Head like me.

The Grateful Dead in the 1970s, clockwise from top left: Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, Ron McKernan, Mickey Hart and Jerry Garcia. The late Mr. Garcia played his last show in Chicago, where the Fourth of July weekend shows will take place.CreditChris Walter/Getty Images

note: this blog was written to be originally published for Jerry’s memorial in August, but I never finished it until today.

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