Recently I was asked to write about what the Grateful Dead meant to me for the Campfire blog as one of the Summer Camp counselors. I will admit that the music of the Grateful Dead has meant more to me than any other music and has carried me through so many of the events in my life.
I described a defining moment in my life where I understood that the music of the Grateful Dead was more than just music. That even occurred as I listened to the song Ripple which is still my favorite song to this day. I was not lucky enough to get tickets to any of the Dead50 shows which left me saddened. However I was blessed enough to head to Park West on Friday night for the opening show of the three day run to see it on a live feed and to see Leftover Salmon play the set breaks and the after show. It was a great night full of memories that I will treasure and a certain sense of a new beginning that I will not let go.
I know that many Deadheads were upset with the announcement of Trey as the addition to the band. I think that this sadness comes from a front man of any other band being put into Jerry’s spot. For me, I chose to look at it in a new way. I looked at in the way that without the music of the Grateful Dead there would not have likely been Phish, because admittedly their music and their scene was greatly influenced by that of the Grateful Dead. Trey was not there to replace Jerry. This is the first thing that you have to remember. Trey was there to be Trey to try and reverently respect the music of the Grateful Dead and to really give the fans his own spin on the songs.
I personally think that Trey was the best possible choice. I might be biased since I love Phish. The symbolic passing of the torch between old and new, generations past and generations to come…a perfect melting pot of what was and what is yet to become. The remaining members of the Grateful Dead know that this is the end of the road for them. Their long strange trip has reached its end, but that does not mean that it is the end of the scene and the music. There can never be another Grateful Dead. Their journey is one in its own and it has been an amazing journey that has touched so many lives. I do not believe that any other band has brought together a group of people in the same way that the Grateful Dead have. People from all walks of life flock to them. However I believe that you can find new music that you can become a fan of as well.
For me, the closing of this first night with the encore of Ripple made me feel as though my trip had come full circle. It has been a long strange trip for me as well. I married way too young and had my first son. For months we contemplated over names, me wanting to name him Jerry, his dad eventually won out on this fight. I can still remember listening to the music of the Grateful Dead in the delivery room and for a month while I was in the hospital on bedrest with nothing to do.
The music of the Grateful Dead is what kept me sane during that time. When I got my first divorce it was Touch of Grey that reminded me that I would survive this part of my journey. During college I became very interested in the sociological impact that the Grateful Dead had on its fans and followers. I was lucky enough to have a sociology professor who believed in me. She allowed me to have an entire semester course where I got to research and write about the impact that the music of the Grateful Dead had on its fans. I loved working in that environment and getting to meet so many wonderful Deadheads, some of whom I am still friends with to this day.
Years later I would make another poor choice in choosing a mate and would go through a second divorce. Again it was the music of the Grateful Dead that kept me moving forward and knowing that I was worthy. When I felt like no one else in the world believed in me, I was able to gain inspiration and love through the music. To simply say that I am a fan would be so misleading. The music of the Grateful Dead has literally guided me through my life.
When I met my soul mate and we found out that we were expecting a baby girl, it was no question that she would be named after one of our favorite Grateful Dead songs. Althea seems to embody the song for which she was named after. I tried for months to get tickets to tonight’s show in hopes of having her see her song sung live, but as of now it looks like we will be sitting on the couch cuddling as we await what I think is going to be played. Shane and I also had an amazing connection to the song Doin’ That Rag which has since been our song. So much of our life has been influenced by the amazing music that I am very emotional as I see it all coming to an end. We will always have the songs to cherish but there simple will not and can not be another Grateful Dead, a band that embodies this spiritual connection to their music that has the power to change your life.
From the bottom of my heart I am so grateful for everything that the band has meant to me over the years. Much love and let’s remember that the music will never stop.