Monday, August 09, 2004
Gone Are The Days...
I used to get similar phone calls a few times a year...
"Is it true?"
"Nah - just a rumor - don't worry about it."
So when R-- called, I didn't think too much about it. Same old rumors floating around. But then K-- called.
"How are you holding-up?"
My heart fell into my stomach.
"Sh*t. Is it true?"
"Yeah - early this morning."
I just sat there dazed. K-- worked a few blocks away. I asked her if she could come meet me outside, but she had a meeting. I asked where S-- was, but she said he was in a class all day and didn't know yet. I put on my Walkman and walked out to the park over by 13th and K. I just sat down and cried.
That's how I found out that Jerry Garcia had died.
It seems like yesterday. It seems like a lifetime ago. All the years combine...
I know it's not really cool with the indie folks to like The Grateful Dead. Who cares. That band did things to me that nobody has come remotely close to since. I can't even begin to describe the joy I used to feel going to see the Dead. Not good-time-rock-and-roll-party-joy. We're talking from the bottom of my soul, head-to-toe absolute sheer bliss.
And save your "and then the drugs wore off..." comments. It was all about the MUSIC. Music that gets into your head and swirls around. Music that takes control and makes your body DANCE. A guitar lick that makes you weep. God damn I miss those days.
I don't claim to be the world's biggest DeadHead. I certainly wasn't the first. But I managed to see The Grateful Dead 100 times in 7 years. The Jerry Garcia Band about a half-dozen times too. I traveled all over the country - Boston to Miami to Chicago to California. Even once to Canada. I remember S-- and I literally sitting on the floor counting pennies so we could go buy food, yet we managed to always have a stack of Dead tickets on-hand. I had the time of my life and learned a lot along the way. It's really not much of an overstatement to say that Jerry and the boys changed the way I look at the world. I'm a much better person because of them.
The only regret I have about the whole Dead thing was that my boyfriend and I never got to see Jerry together. We were at the same shows, but we didn't know each other yet. We could have been dancing right next to each other years before we met and never knew it. We met about 6 months after Jerry died. How did we meet? We were at The Green Lantern. He was wearing his "Air Garcia" t-shirt and I went up to talk to him. We've been together ever since. When we got our rings for our 5th anniversary, we got them inscribed with "a fine connection" - a quote from Jerry's song "They Love Each Other". Coincidentally - that's the first song I ever heard Jerry sing live.
The Dead are still playing, but it just isn't the same. I'll be there when they play Nissan next weekend, but it's more for sentimental reasons than anything else. They can still put on a good rock-and-roll show, but there's a big hole where Jerry used to be (no pun intended - haha).
I spent today listening to my first show - 9/2/88 Landover, Md. The good ol' Cap Centre. After I return from Fort Reno tonight, I'll probably go home and watch the '78 Winterland video, get real drunk and have a good cry. My boyfriend and I will swap tour stories that we've probably already told each other at least a dozen times. I'll dig through my hundreds of bootleg tapes looking for that perfect version of that perfect song I haven't heard in years.
Let there be songs to fill the air.
Thanks for sharing your story. I miss Jerry all the time. I can remember when I first heard about his death, I was at work in the restaurant. It was like a bad dream. When I got off I went directly to my local watering hole and got plastered on "Old Grandad" shots... Haven't deank that since(LOL), but when I got home, I shaved my head.(I had really long hair- to the middle of my back.) To me, It was the end of an Era. I still get weepy whenever I hear certain songs such as:
"Scarlet Begonias" or "Ripple" to think I'll never see Jerry perform them live again.
The first "Further Festival" I went to after his death was at Liberty Park. People probably thought I was crazy... all I did was cry.
Peace Love & Light to You & Yours