Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Decade Gone By

JEROME JOHN GARCIA 8/1/42 - 8/9/95

Nearing the 10th anniversary of Jerry’s untimely death, Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter put his pen to work again (well, maybe his keyboard I guess) in memory of his ol’ pal. Here’s his amazingly well-written Dead.net journal entry from 8/3/05:

“Ten years since old Jer kicked the bucket? Seems more like fifty. Nothing about his passing seems like ‘only yesterday,’ rather as long ago and faraway as my childhood.

From the sublime to the vicious, everything that could be said has been said and said again. Yet, the essential mystery of who Jerry Garcia was remains. What can be said with fair assurance is that he was a source, an original way of seeing the world that agreed with others in a few broad and important outlines, but which in just as many other dimensions confounded all expectations.

I wouldn’t say he delighted, in any Whitmanian sense, in what appear to be his contradictions, nor that he had control of them; predictability was not his strong suit. Not even self predictability. He could be alarmingly kind in situations where kindness was the last response to be expected - and altogether gruff where sympathy seemed the more natural response. You could almost say he had weather rather than climate.

Few would disagree that a key part of him remained isolated, unknown and unknowable. His art is the closest thing to an available roadmap of his singularities, amorphous clues, and clues only, to the nature of his true affections. Where he entered, he dominated, generally to his dismay. He knew he was not a leader, more a scout striking out in the wilderness of his intuitions, unwittingly summoning others to tag along through virtue of his magnetic personality and apparently deep sense of inner direction, but basically antipathetic to following or to being followed. Driving back and forth across the bay from Larkspur to San Franscisco on Workingman’s Dead recording sessions, our conversations would range wide, or, sometimes, nothing would be said at all. I remember once we got to talking about directions. He professed to having none and inquired as to mine. ‘For the time being,’ I said, ‘I’m just following you following yourself.’

‘Then we’re both lost,’ he muttered.

A persistent image I have of Jerry which seems strangely resonant with his coming and going: a brilliant sunny day on a boat bobbing above the abyss of Molokini where the floor of the ocean suddenly drops off a cliff and plunges to unknown depths, I watch him check his gear then sit on the edge of the boat and tumble over backwards into the water, which is clear to a depth of several hundred feet. I watch him dwindle in size as he descends further and further, spread eagle and motionless, until he is only a speck to the eye, then disappears altogether from view and there is no more Jerry, only ocean.”

That’s friggin’ beautiful, Bobby. I couldn't have said it better myself (obviously, or else maybe I'd be a world-famous, first-class lyricist/poet).

Slack Song of the Day: On this day, of all days, how 'bout a little Jerry Garcia Band from July of 1977, a show that's featured on the Theatre 1839 discs of the Pure Jerry series (thanks Jacob Eli for the tip). So here's a good version of Jerry playing at possibly the greatest time of his life -- 7/29/77 -- the setlist is in the Theatre link above.

Slack Video of the Day: Here's a commerative memorial video for Jerry, celebrating the life of this musical giant.


At 11:24 AM, Blogger Kenny Alias said...

What many people don't know is that my mother is actually responsible for Jerry Garcia's death. Yep, its true.

My brother, Denny Alias, and I had tickets to one of the June 1995 Giants Stadium shows. I had a high school biology final the next day but I really didn't care. I had been lying to my mom all week about how I didn't have finals so I could go to the show. Then, on the day of the concert, she checked the damn PTA calendar and saw that I did in fact have a tests the following day. She refused to let me go and said the following:

"There's no way you're going. Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead have been playing for 25 years. I saw them; don't worry you'll get to seem them too. It's not like Jerry's gonna die."

Less than two months later he died. Now, I'm a rational man, not prone to jumping to conclusions; but to this day I believe this is fairly conclusive proof that my mother is responsible for the death of my hero. She jinxed him. Plain and simple.

Two months later I was in a scuba diving shop in Plaintation Key, Florida wearing a t-shirt that said "Have Grateful Day!" when this girl came up to me an told me Jerry had died. I raced home and watched the news all day and saw nothing about it. I figured she was just fucking with me or poorly informed. That night I went out to Bentley's Restaurant with my family and as I was eating dinner I saw Jerry's picture flash on the bar TV with the caption "1942-1995." My mom noticed it too and immediately glanced over to me. I looked her straight in the eyes and said, "You did this."

I never got to experience a Gratefuld Dead concert.

At 11:31 AM, Blogger ethan said...

you definitely should've tanked the bio final on purpose.

At 11:33 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

That's a pretty funny, and completely reasonable and rational story...

I found out coming back to my bunk from a camp softball field as a 16-year-old CIT. We happened to be walking with one of the bigger Deadheads in camp, a new counselor to camp that grew his own bud in the bunks at his old camp, the guy that gave me my copy of 5/8/77 (that's always a guy you remember). He was absolutely floored, and we sprinted to the only place in camp that had a TV. Sure enough, it was true.

We lowered the flag to half mast and sat on the bunk porched, stoned all day, listening to the Dead. Later they took our group to the movies because a female counselor for the girl CITs was so destraught she couldn't handle being at camp.

What a weird and terrible day.

At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I was fortunate to see the band over 100 times and JGB about 30+ times and I can tell you that day was like my grandfather dying. The worst day I have ever had!


At 1:38 PM, Blogger DennyAlias said...

I'm also fairly certain our mom said HST has at least 4 or 5 more good books left in him.

At 1:39 PM, Blogger DennyAlias said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:03 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Goddamn Mrs. Alias...I knew I should have taken a dump in your house's hall closet and left it there.


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