Friday, August 1, 2008

Jerry Garcia

Today, August 1st would have been Jerry Garcia's 66th birthday.

On the morning of August 9th, 1995, I was at work when a friend/co-worker pulled me aside and told me that Jerry Garcia was dead. Of course I didn’t believe him, and all I could think was what a sick thing to say to me. Even after it was confirmed, I still didn’t want to believe it. Life changed that day.

I was blessed to have seen Jerry and the Grateful Dead in concert many times, each experience better than the last. Each time I took with me a new favorite song, maybe a new friend or a special trinket found on “Shakedown Street”, but always a good memory.

I will admit, I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about the first time I saw the legendary Garcia on stage. I was 22 and still in my punk stage when I was initially introduced to the Dead, pretty much on opposite sides of the realms, but I was open to checking it out. It helped that my first show was at Compton Terrace in Arizona and that meant a road trip. I was always up for a road trip, to anywhere.

The whole first set was pretty much a blur. I didn’t know the songs, so I was just taking it all in. I remember “Fire on the Mountain” in the second set. The rhythm and the energy of the crowd, maybe it was something in the air, whatever it was, I was hooked. I decided then and there that this experience was to be repeated.

I loved the people, even the dirty smelly ones with long dreads and dusty clothes, they were happy and having a good time. To me, the feel at a Grateful Dead show is that of a large family where everyone is welcome and nothing but the music matters. And Jerry gave us something to believe in.

He left us with songs and guitar solos full of soul and heart, I honestly can not properly describe it with my simple words. But I can still feel it in when I listen to the tunes, and I remember him fondly for all that he did, and didn’t represent. Thank you, Jerry, for so many good times. "You know our love will not fade away".

"Now that the singer is gone, Where shall we go for the song?"
-Robert Hunter

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