Tag Archives: grateful dead

The Days Between – Jerry Garcia

I am undeniable a Dead-head. I own several gbs of their music. I have several solo works of other members. I have all the concerts from the last two years of Dead & Company in my music collection. Yet, I have never seen the Grateful Dead play live. I’ve not seen any of the solo efforts in a live setting. I’ve yet to make a single Dead & Company show. To be frankly honest, the Grateful Dead and associated acts were never part of my musical calculus until somewhere in late 1994 or early 1995.

See, I grew up in the mid-1980s. Teenagers at that time were listening to New Wave or Heavy Metal. Me? I was a Metal-head. My youth was spent listening to bands like Iron Maiden, Tygers of Pan Tang, Twisted Sister, Motorhead, Cirith Ungol, Metallica, Megadeth, Saxon, Fastway, Dio, Rainbow, Doro, Lita Ford, Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Mercyful Fate, Ratt, Motley Crue, and many others. The Grateful Dead just weren’t anywhere in that neighborhood. But three years spent overseas in Germany changed a lot of this for me.

While stationed in Germany, I was exposed to a wider assortment of music – and learned to appreciate musicianship in its many forms. One of my earliest encounters was through jazz guitarists such as Allan Holdsworth, Al Di Meola, AND Kazumi Watanabe. From these, I came upon acts such as the Indigo Girls, and Gary Moore. And eventually, I wandered into the Grateful Dead.

It was the lyrics that got me there, along with listening to more of the “In the Dark” album than just “Touch of Grey”. I found a lot of synchronicity with various songs, such as “Black Muddy River.” This led me to digging into the band’s past and finding more songs with awesome lyrics. Eventually, I came across the song “Days Between” – where I found lyrics that were incredible, with such delicious imagery attached to it (see the lyrics for the song below). This was the type of poet that I wanted to be!

Sadly though – it wasn’t Jerry’s voice that drew me in. That was – and still is – Bob Weir. I enjoy his vocal renditions of songs in Dead & Company that were traditionally Jerry’s to sing. That’s not to say that Jerry was a terrible vocalist, merely that my ear is drawn more to Weir’s style.

I do remember where I was on August 9th, when the news came out that Jerry Garcia had passed away in 1995. I was working a day shift as a Tape Librarian at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. When my shift was over, I heard on the radio about other fans of the Grateful Dead who were meeting in a local park to celebrate Jerry’s life. It didn’t take me long to decide to go there. When the sun set, candles were passed around and lit – and the crowd sang songs that were traditionally Jerry’s. I didn’t get to stay the entire night, as I did have a shift to work the next morning – but according to the news people stayed until well after midnight.

I can’t honestly say that the Grateful Dead and their music has really touched my life, or even that it has ignited a fire within me. What it has become though, is a constant companion wherever I go. My iPhone typically has over 2gb of Grateful Dead music on it at any given time. When I am writing (as I am now), the music playing in the background is of the Grateful Dead or some derivative. The sound calms me, relaxes me, and really puts me in a frame of mind to think. So, while I’ve never seen any aspect of the Grateful Dead in a live setting, the music of this band, and the associated acts that have sprung from it have become that constant companion that I really enjoy. We might not be old friends from way back in the day, but we’ve made up for that over the last twenty-plus years.

Jerry was born on August 1st, and died in 1995 eight days after his birthday. Yesterday. many Dead-heads celebrated what would have been Jerry’s 75th birthday. On August 9th, Dead-heads will remember the loss of Jerry twenty-two years ago. From August 2nd to August 8th, this period of time has been lovingly referred to as “The Days Between”…in loving tribute to Jerry, I present to you the lyrics to “The Days Between” in closing.

There were days
And there were days
And there were days between
Summer flies and August dies
The world grows dark and mean
Comes the shimmer of the moon
On black infested trees
The singing man is at his song
The holy on their knees
The reckless are out wrecking
The timid plead their pleas
No one knows much more of this
Than anyone can see anyone can see

There were days
And there were days
And there were days besides
When phantom ships with phantom sails
Set to sea on phantom tides
Comes the lightning of the sun
On bright unfocused eyes
The blue of yet another day
A springtime wet with sighs
A hopeful candle lingers
In the land of lullabies
Where headless horsemen vanish
With wild and lonely cries, lonely cries

There were days
And there were days
And there were days I know
When all we ever wanted
Was to learn and love and grow
Once we grew into our shoes
We told them where to go
Walked halfway around the world
On promise of the glow
Walked upon a mountain top
Walked barefoot in the snow
Gave the best we had to give
How much we’ll never know we’ll never know

There were days
And there were days
And there were days between
Polished like a golden bowl
The finest ever seen
Hearts of Summer held in trust
Still tender, young and green
Left on shelves collecting dust
Not knowing what they mean
Valentines of flesh and blood
As soft as velveteen
Hoping love would not forsake
The days that lie between lie between

There were days
And there were days
And there were days between
Polished like a golden bowl
The finest ever seen
Hearts of Summer held in trust
Still tender, young and green
Left on shelves collecting dust
Not knowing what they mean
Valentines of flesh and blood
Still tender, young and green
Hoping love would not forsake
The days that lie between lie between

Written by Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter
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The Grateful Dead, the Hippy Mentality, and Me

Tonight, I am sitting here at my computer – listening to the Deadpod, which is a Grateful Dead podcast. “The Professor” plays various bootleg concerts from the thirty year history of the Grateful Dead (1965-1995) and the particular episode I am listening to is the middle set for a 1973 concert. At the heyday of the Grateful Dead, I was far too young to be into their music. In fact, I was listening to the early aspects of disco music, coupled with the anti-disco thematics of the punk movement. I did not get into the Grateful Dead with any level of interest until I was in my late twenties. Just in time for the untimely death of Jerry Garcia.

I still remember that day. It was an early August day in 1995 – I was working as a Tape Librarian for the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank. The word on the radio came down that Jerry had passed away. When I filtered down to my car after my day of work, I drove to a gathering in Lee Park that I had heard about on the radio. I spent the large part of that evening sitting around with other Grateful Dead fans. There was talk about the shows that some had been too, along with the mystical and spiritual aspect of jams such as “Drums” and “Space” had on some of us. We all mourned Jerry’s passing together. There were a massive amount of candles that had been lit. Some local company brought a truckload of bottled water and passed bottles out to the fans that were there. Folks brought musical instruments. We sang, talked, and cried into the night. For many of us, we had thought it was the end of our shared “long, strange trip”.

Last year, I had heard rumors about the Grateful Dead’s remaining four-core members coming back together as the Grateful Dead for a handful of shows. It was the celebration¬†of the 50th anniversary of the band. For some folks, myself among them, I felt that this would be the chapter where Jerry’s ghost would finally be laid to rest. I so wanted to go. However, I knew the tickets would sell fast, and that scalping would be way beyond my meager means. But I knew I would be there in spirit at least.

On the last night of the show, about an hour before the end of it, I realized that each of the concerts were being simulcast into local movie theaters, as well as online. I was completely shattered. I could have been there for the experience, and I had missed it. Until I found out that the entire set of concerts were going to be sold on DVD. I will be purchasing the set in the very near future on pre-order.

Now, I can understand when people read this and wonder how I could feel this way about a band – particularly a band of aging, doping hippies. Well, remove the doping part from that equation – and you have me. An aging hippy – born in the wrong generation. I grok what the hippy vibe is all about — equality, freedom, exploration, sharing…and to be completely honest, I believe that the world needs a lot more hippy within it. Sure, hippies are pretty grungy at times, they don’t really follow too much of the “polite” society rules…but there’s more to them than that.

Look beyond the jeans, the long hair, the beards, the aspects of free love that don’t quite fit into today’s society — you will find people who see past pigmentation, hair color, eye color, height, weight, sexual orientation, gender…they see people that should be treated equally. They see folks that need to be handed half the sandwich they are eating – because the other person is hungry. They see people that they can disagree with, without having to turn it into something more than that. Yeah, I’m idealizing some of this, and romanticizing other parts of it…but honestly, what’s wrong with that?

Watching the Grateful Dead put their band to rest, one last time, does bring a particular chapter of my life to a close. But its not like these guys are going to stop making music…they will continue to do so, in their own bands. And in their own way, they are striking out on their own trails, seeking their own discoveries…and that’s just what the music of the Grateful Dead is about — exploring for yourself, expanding your boundaries…even erasing those boundaries. And once we remove those boundaries…those things that make us all pre-packaged because of some aspect of our genetic makeup…then, we start to move forward on equal footing.

Say what you will…I sincerely believe there is nothing wrong with the hippy philosophy. I only wish the rest of the world could hurry up and catch on too…

Grateful Dead - Fare The Well - 05July2015