Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Happy Birthday Jerry

Jerry Garcia was not just a guitar player but a man who stayed true to his vision. What was happening on that stage and in that audience was a daily and nightly experiment with collective consciousness. Jerry was a beautiful and soulful singer he poured his heart into the songs he sang and played. He assumed the identity of the song and was able to convey it as a first person narrative. This was true of the songs he wrote and the traditional songs he played both acoustic and electric. I'm sure he stumbled around drinking burgundy wine (Wharf Rat) and spent the night in Utah in a cave up in the hills (Friend of the Devil) more than once, and he really owned those songs. Jerry and Pig Pen also get credit for turning a whole pop generation raised on the Mama's and the Papa's and the Beatles onto Traditional folk music, blues and bluegrass. Their band blistered through a lot of those songs as half of their stage shows were cover tunes of historical gems. Just pulling on the string of “I Know You Rider” revealed a world of historical gems, landscapes, and universal truths stated simply and clearly. Jerry and Ron (Pig Pen) always tried to shed light on the classics that they discovered and shared them gleefully with us as often as they could. Jerry continued to carry that banner that he and Ron helped raise.

I still miss Jerry and the remaining band, and bands are just not the same. It just goes to show you what a committed extraordinary man, musician and friend he was to all who knew him or went to his shows. He had a passion for music, music history and a passion for sharing that knowledge. He had a sheer delight in discovering nuances and experimentation with the medium of both sound, and the visual arts.

Jerry was a good guy and we all miss his smile and laugh and seeing him have a good time on stage. This is the high holy week for us August 1 through August 9th. Say what you want about dead heads but we aren't killing anybody in the name of our patron saint or forcing our beliefs and attitudes on anyone. A lesson the whole world should learn and right now!

Weirdly enough - ten full years after his death Jerry finally visited me in a short brief dream I had before waking. This was just two nights ago. In the dream I was in my small comfortable room where most of Journey Home got finalized in Somers Point, NJ writing passionately but calmly at my typewriter feeling that fulfillment you get when you find the right words easily. When I completed my thought and got up perfectly, calmly refreshed (the ahh of enlightenment I suppose) and walked into the next room Jerry and a young Native American friend were sitting there watching me. All that was said was by me, "I didn't notice you guys come in," and Jerry smiled and nodded at me, looked over at the Native American and did the same as we all just smiled and nodded at each other. The Native American not so much nodding as Jerry but the smile and eye gleam were there and with me too as I looked back and forth nodding at them. It was a moment of understanding, of creativity and the magic in the process. Then I awoke and immediately but slowly realized – and said out loud surprised and delighted “hey that was Jerry” - big beard, smile and all. It didn't hit me until I woke up. With my dreams always being so real it was a fun moment. Thanks Jerry I’ve got that stupid going to see a show grin on my face. Boy have I missed that!


Journey Home
Journey Home at My Space

1 comment:

Helen said...

I would love for Jerry to visit me in a dream. It hasn't happened yet but I suspect if will some day. As far as the community still be around, I know that for certain it is. There is a small ring of bloggers I stay in touch with and I am going to see about 12,000 of my closet friends in 2 weeks at The Gathering of the Vibes. If you've not been, I highly recommend it.