Discovering the Dead
Better late than never! Not sure what actually got me going down the Grateful Dead rabbit hole, but here I am. If you know me, you know my two favorites musical genres are blues (old school Chicago style) and 60’s psychedelia. And even given that, I’ve never really gotten into the Dead. I do own their first album on vinyl and really like it, but I know that they never liked it because they felt it didn’t really capture their live sound.
So I watched the 5-part documentary on Amazon and then discovered the Good Old Grateful Dead podcast, and I’m now well and truly down the rabbit hole. Perhaps it’s just the depth and breadth of the output of music. Or the fact that universities now have "Dead studies" courses. Or the American history in the lyrics. Or the improvisational nature of the music (never the same song twice). Or the Dead as a cultural phenomenon which continues to this day. Or the "out there" approach to playing, marketing, touring. Probably all of these things.
I hear people say things like "I just never really got the Dead until….", and then they reference hearing a performance or attending a concert. It does seem to me that the Dead are something you have to "get" to appreciate. They aren’t immediately accessible. And I do find it hilarious and amazing that people will argue about which incarnation of the band, which era, which album, and especially which live performance is the best! But the argument isn’t really an argument in the internet sense, where people announce their own view as the correct one and slam everyone else who disagrees. It’s more just a platform for sharing what they like and why they like it.
And on a personal note, I can’t believe that Bob Weir is still performing at age 75! I had a poster of him on my wall when I was 14 years old. He sure looks different now. But I guess I do too. 50 years or more in, and there’s no end to the music.