Friday, November 21, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - "Grateful" - 11/23/08

It is fitting that this week’s prompt should be “grateful”. The timing is amazing and there is only one way I can go with this.

A few days ago, I responded to a good friend of mine, Raymond Pert (pseudonym), who had written a blog about the Grateful Dead. You can see it here RP . My comment was: Q: “What did the Deadhead say when he ran out of drugs? A: “This Music Sucks”. This joke led to a short email discussion about the Grateful Dead. RP, like millions of others, hold this music in high esteem.

Though we are roughly the same age, from the same background, we have very different takes on this music. RP appreciates it and has enjoyed attending concerts. I attended one concert and have never been so bored. I would have rather attended a three hour life insurance seminar. In three hours, I think they played two songs. At least I thought there was a short break where the tempo changed slightly, and Jerry Garcia went to a different chord. I missed the first half hour because I thought they were tuning up. I did not realize that was a song. But, the faithful were mesmerized by this music, little better than your neighborhood garage band produces. Their music is benign enough, just not memorable. You are listening to it now. Can you imagine three hours of this? This song reminds me of cranking an old-time jackinthebox.

Plink, plink, plink. But it won't pop. It just goes on and on. If the drying of paint were to make a sound, this would surely be it.

I swear that the great unwashed that I was forced to rub shoulders with were
the same demographic that go to every NASCAR race and camp out in the infield.

The major difference is the Dead crowd ingests massive amounts of chemicals and herbs, while the NASCAR fan uses beer and Jack Daniels to make these events tolerable.

It has been about thirty years, and I think I finally feel safe taking a drug test. I have nearly gotten the stench of patchouli out of my pores. Three hours of dodging vomit and my Grateful Dead concert experience was gratefully over.

I love music and have very eclectic tastes (as you can see by my song list). But I tend to be drawn to lyric, melody, and killer guitar rifts. Hypnotic repetition has never attracted me. I realize the Grateful Dead had, and continue to have, millions of disciples. Curiously, these fans didn’t buy their records. Their number one album: Skeletons in the Closet: The Best of the Grateful Dead took six years to go gold. Fans must have been spending their money on hallucinogens. Maybe it is the cheery album covers that limit sales.

My friend, RP, enjoys their music without the help of chemicals. God Bless Him. If you are a Grateful Dead fan, there is no way you can defend the music to me, nor should you need to. We all like what we like. I am just providing one man’s opinion. Hey, I like Eminem. But I would not attend one of his concerts either. Someone might bust a cap.


"Sunshine" said...

I had to appreciate this one, though I do enjoy the Grateful Dead's music without the use of any chemical substances. Seeing that someone else posted about the Grateful Dead as I was writing my piece about the Grateful Dead made me smile. I like your honesty in this piece. I won't try to convert you though, so don't worry!

Regina said...

I am one of the few people who purchased Grateful Dead records. I like them, even while straight.
I attended two concerts- one in the seventies which I have little memory of due to illegal substances, and the other in the early nineties. That one was exactly as you described- maybe two or three long jams all night long. Of course, my sister, who was dating a Deadhead at the time, told me they did the whole side 2 of Terrapin Station the night before, kind of a Holy Grail for Deadheads. But I do get your point. Getting to the ladies room was ridiculous as you had to run the gauntlet of all the people dancing in the hallways. Got smacked by a lot of waving arms. Groovy man!

myrtle beached whale said...

I have to say that with a name like Sunshine, you would definitely be a Grateful Dead fan. I appreciate your groovy comments.

If you felt that way as a fan, imagine me, who only went because he had free tickest. I was in tie-dye hell.

J at said...

I have no real opinion of the Dead, except that believe it or not, my mom hung out with them in the early 60s, before they were the Dead. She dated Robert Hunter for awhile, but they broke up because he did too many drugs. Interesting? Only if you're a fan, I guess.

(I left this same comment for Sunshine...I got a kick out of both of you posting on the Dead.)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, no joke....I never got the appeal of the Dead either, nor the appeal of any music group, actor or politician to the point of it being the equal of the Holy Grail. I am sure it is like a club or being a biker. An alternate lifestyle that they assume for awhile. While in Myrtle Beach I became acquainted with a Phish-head. This gal followed around the group Phish. Without admitting it she as much confessed that she didn't listen to the concerts as much as knew this person and that person would attend and they would reminisce about other concerts they didn't listen to. At any rate, to each his own, but let's be honest we just like a cause, a club, a reason to drink or get high. Can anyone say

raymond pert said...

Wow! Glad I could help you get this post written. I enjoyed Terrapin Station playing while I read your piece.

Few bought Dead albums because the music was circulating so widely on tapes recorded at shows.

People sure loved to buy other Grateful Dead products: T-shirts, posters, decals, bumper stickers, mugs, etc. and still do.

The Grateful Dead's way of marketing was genius: give the music away by not putting any restrictions on shows being taped, attract thousands to shows, tour a lot, and create a whole iconic mythology of images and sell tons of Grateful Dead shit.

I'm really surprised more acts don't do the same. All the Grateful Dead did by making their music free was create more market for their performances and their stuff. They didn't have to waste time or money promoting themselves. They were their own best promoters and marketers.

Grateful Dead: best country-jazz-blues-American traditional-world beat-reggae-psychedelic-bluegrass-cover-rock n roll band ever. No one mixes the genres, glides seamlessly between them, and brings more life to more different kinds of music than the Grateful Dead.

That's why I love 'em.

myrtle beached whale said...

Great comment, but I wished you would have voiced your opinion on Deadheads. I liked your take on them. I think Anonymous hit the nail on the head. It was never about the music (it couldn't have been), it was about the event. Saying you were there. Lots of bands in those days allowed live recording. It was not until later, when everyone got greedy.

JellyJules: Tell your mother to get checked for headlice and STDs.

Linda Jacobs said...

Not my kind of music but I really enjoyed your post!

Redheels said...

I have to say when I saw the prompt for Sunday Scribblings I did not think about the Grateful Dead! I am not a fan, but I do know there are many Deadheads out there.
I enjoyed your post, you have a way with words.

paisley said...

i am with you ... never quite figured that one out... if i had been invited to go to one of their shows,, i'd a went for the drugs... but to tell you the truth i couldn't name one song they ever did accept i guess that getting old song they did in the end... what ever the name of it was.....

myrtle beached whale said...

I think that song was "Shade of Gray" or something like that. It actually made it into the top 10, I think.

raymond pert said...


Plays his Deadhead Cred Card:

"Touch of Grey"

I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive.

/Returns to black light room.

myrtle beached whale said...


Thanks for clearing that up. I knew it was something gray. That was actually a pretty good tune. Had meaningful words and everything.

myrtle beached whale said...

There was a recent court trial. The defendent was charged with vehicular manslaughter when the SUV he was driving went out of control, crossed the median, and slammed into a station wagon killing a family of 4. On the stand he claimed he fell asleep at the wheel. The defense attorney asked what happened to cause him to lose consciousness. He said, "I don't know. I was wide awake, driving down the road and a Grateful Dead song came on the radio." "I object!" shouted the prosecutor. "The radio doesn't play the Grateful Dead." "I have XM" replied the defendent. "Case dismissed" ordered the judge as he slammed down his gavel. "No one can be expected to stay awake through that."

anthonynorth said...

I've never really been a Grateful Dead fan. I don't know why as I've been a fan of, and played, hard rock.
My own favourites include Led Zep and Deep Purple.

linda may said...

I don't actually know any of their music but I know there are a lot of jokes about them that are still around. If you like good guitar players look up this guy. He is one of my favourites and is a Aussie /American. Good player. "John Butler." he is very diverse,his music covers a mixture of styles from rock to reggae then back to ballads and irish/folk sounding stuff. BTW nice take on this prompt. Did you have your uniform on for the concert? He he.

myrtle beached whale said...


I am with you on the Zeppelin and Deep Purple. The Dead were never hard rock. More like snooze rock.


Never heard of John Butler, but will look him up. I am always looking for new music. No uniform. I would have been beaten and labeled a baby killer. The uniform for a Dead concert is a tie-dyed t-shirt.

BJ Roan said...

I have successfully avoided becoming a Deadhead, although I was sad when Jerry Garcia passed on. I occasionally listen to their music, but not in large doses. I enjoyed the humor in this piece.

*~sis~* said...

this post amused me, possibly because i have no opinion of the grateful dead. or possibly for other unknown reasons. but i liked it!
rock on ;)

tumblewords said...

I'm so grateful I didn't have to attend a concert. Laughing! Great post!

linda may said...

Yeah I kinda guessed as much, he he I mean't it tongue in cheek.
J.Butler's band is called "The John Butler Trio"

Patois said...

I have to admit that my first thought at seeing the prompt was the Dead. I remembered long ago when Jerry Garcia was mentioned as someone coming to play at our college. A big controversy broke out among those saying, "Who the hell is he?" to those saying, "Duh, you idiots, he's god-like." Sheltered child that I was, I'd never heard of him. But I did become a fan after his concert, which was more than two songs.

Alisa said...

This post made me smile. I’d heard of the Dead but never really listened to them until college…which I did sans chemicals. A couple of their songs I liked pretty well but like you, my tastes are very eclectic. I think I bought their 'Greatest Hits' just to see what all the hype was about. One night, many years later, I happened on a PBS special with Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. Wow! If you have a chance, check out the albums they made together. There is some amazing music there.

Anonymous said...

Terrific read - Dead fan or not. New Guns and Roses album now out! YES!!!!!!

Mary said...

I'm with you on this one. I have a friends who is a dead-head, and I've tried to understand it, but I just don't get it.

Robin said...

Sorry, I'm with your buddy and with Raymond on this one. Once a deadhead, always a deadhead at heart. I can still zone out completely just by cranking up the tunes.

For my own Deadhead Cred ;-), I spent a fair chunk of my formative years following the Dead up and down the east coast. My very last authentic Dead show t-shirt finally fell apart a year or two ago, but I've still got one last baja shirt left... As for the music, I did buy a few albums, but the best stuff was never the albums, it was always the bootlegs, and I had dozens of those.

PS Jerry was actually an incredibly talented guitarist - check out the bluegrass stuff he did with David Grisman.

myrtle beached whale said...

I think the fact that the merchandise is so cherished and people followed them around supports my belief that it is more about the event than the music. I would much rather hear grass grow in a field than bluegrass being played indoors.
I don't doubt that Garcia was a decent guitar player, but they are a dime a dozen. Every bar in Nashville has an unbelievable guitarist performing, but no one is following them around. It was the drugs.