“Look at these pictures of my son, Jerry Garcia Friedman”.
That was a comment from a women who was sitting near my friends as they waited for us to arrive at The Dead concert Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Can’t make this stuff up.
There were those who scoffed at the idea of seeing The Dead sans Jerry Garcia. I could have leaned towards that camp but the desire to ‘go home again’ outweighed the purist in me. Perhaps he was there in spirit in the baby pictures of that old deadhead sitting behind my friends. Or maybe, just maybe, he was channeling through Warren Haines every so often.
Let’s face it. We all have the rhythms and melodies of our adolescence. The songs that can bring a tear to our eyes our a devilish grin to our faces. For some of us (and you know who you are Karen) it is Barry Manilow. For others (who are still friends with you in spite of that) it would be the cosmic meanderings of a good Dead song.
We are a tribe of sorts. We all went our separate ways but somehow that music makes us feel better when we hear it. And for those who are fortunate to have passed the love on to our kids, the bond gets stronger.
A few observations, some mine, some quoted from others.
“A Dead show is like going to Synagogue (fill in your religious affiliation). I don’t know if I necessarily believe, but I feel like I belong there”. That was from Dave. Very profound, my friend.
“I felt like I was eating the leftovers of a really amazing meal.” This one was from my son!! He was too young to have ever seen Jerry but he had to see what was left of the band. That 4th grade teacher had it right when she called him the happy go lucky deep thinker. Anyone steals that line and I will hunt you down. Not just because I am his mother, I think that line was brilliant.
Ok, here is the part where if you are not a Grateful Dead fan you may want to get a cup of coffee and move along.
Something that is NOT ok for a set list: Albama Getaway into Dark Star (what were they thinking?). Thank goodness they did not play that on Saturday.
Starting the second set with a 35 minute space Jam (oh excuse me Rhythm Devils) into Cryptical into Other One into Born Cross-eyed into St. Stephen was a bit too much. This was all a space head’s fantasy but this crowd was bored and talking. You can do that in the middle of set but to start, not so much. Almost a solid hour of way out there, even for someone who loves the sound.
What has NOT changed about a DEAD show? Tie dye, old hippies, dread locks, clouds of pot smoke, girls in long patchwork skirts (where do they pick them up nowadays), taking an 8-year-old is still a bad idea no matter how much you want to share with your kid and even if you have the most amazing seats (second row on the side of corner stage) the biggest, dancingest guy will always sit in front of you causing you to have to stand the entire show.
What HAS changed: most people had to take out their glasses to read their tickets.
All in all, I would say for a few brief hours I did go home again. Like Dave, I don’t know why but I just felt like I belonged.
And in these times there is nothing wrong with a little comfort food for the soul.
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For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.