Concert of the week in Grateful Dead history: May 1, 1977 (Listen Now)

I don’t trust to nothing, but I know it come out right.

By The Deadhead Cyclist

For Week



s we continue our focus on the Spring ’77 tour, we collide head-on with five outstanding shows at the Palladium in New York City, April 29th – May 4th (with a well-deserved night off on May 2). The 3000-capacity Palladium played a storied role in rock music history during the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, when the property was purchased by New York University and converted into a student residential hall, affectionately referred to as Palladium Hall. The catalog of legendary concerts that took place at the Palladium includes the Rolling Stones’ first American tour in 1965 and The Band’s famous series of New Year’s shows, December 28-31, memorialized in the 1972 album, Rock of Ages.

Of the Dead’s five epic ’77 shows, the May 1st performance stands out, particularly the second set, which features a ”Playing in the Band sandwich” that wanders off into Drums, The Other One, and a really sweet Comes a Time, before returning to Playing to finish off the premier 39 minutes of the show.

Among the many mysterious Robert Hunter penned lyrics found in the Grateful Dead repertoire, the verse, “I don’t trust to nothing, but I know it come out right,” may be in a category by itself for its paradoxical nature. Just when the lyric has us raising our fists in a defiant declaration of mistrust, it pivots unexpectedly to a profound statement of belief in the outcome.

At first glance, this apparent contradiction leaves us confused. We recognize feelings of betrayal that inevitably pop up in our lives, leading us to feel that we can’t trust anything or anyone. How do we get from there to the complete trust necessary to be assured of a positive conclusion? How can mistrust and trust co-exist in such perfect balance?

Fast forward 46 years from the Spring of ’77. Humanity is just coming out the other end of a worldwide crisis, known as the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease, 2019) Pandemic, which has resulted in some seven million deaths worldwide and more than one million in the U.S. alone. Alongside the toll in human lives, we have been through a financial crisis that rivals the Great Depression. There have been two camps with respect to how to address this calamity: Camp Social Distancing and Camp Herd Immunity. In simple terms, those who have pitched their tent in the social dIstancing camp have embraced the plan of slowing the spread of the disease by preventing people from being exposed to the virus; those in the herd immunity camp have claimed that social distancing is only delaying the inevitable, while leading to perhaps the highest levels of economic peril known to humankind. Only by allowing the virus to run its course, they submit, will we achieve the critical mass of immunity necessary to defeat this insidious, silent enemy.

In the early days of the pandemic, a perfect storm moment in history occurred that would make George Clooney and the crew of the Andrea Gail feel fortunate. The U.S. was forced to navigate the crisis under the dismal leadership of the most corrupt, ineffectual, self-serving administration of our lifetimes – and all this during an election year in which the stakes had never been higher, with trust in the powers that be at an all-time low.

We all recognize the feeling of betrayal that inevitably pops up in our lives, leading us to feel that we can’t trust anything or anyone. But how do we get from there to the complete trust necessary to be assured of a positive conclusion?

The words, “I don’t trust to nothing,” were written at the time of another serious crisis in the history of our country: the Vietnam War era. Significantly, the 58,000 Americans killed in action during the Vietnam War has long since been eclipsed by the number of COVID deaths in the U.S. And while almost half a century has passed since Playing in the Band debuted on February 18th, 1971 at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York, our trust in “the men who really run this land” (to borrow from the David Crosby song, What Are Their Names?) is perhaps even lower than it was when the lyrics to Playing in the Band were written.

Against that backdrop, let’s return to the phrase, “But I know it come out right.” The friction between suspicion and trust in these brilliantly juxtaposed lyrics teaches us that multiple truths can coexist. In the context of the current pandemic, those who have favored the social distancing model as a solution represent a logical perspective: Protecting ourselves and our families from a potentially deadly disease calls for slowing its spread by separating ourselves from individuals who may be infectious. Those more concerned with the consequences of a shutdown on the business community, and who have concluded that delaying the achievement of natural herd immunity could result in an even greater loss of life, advocate an equally legitimate approach. Sometimes, multiple truths can coexist, and we’re wise to examine them carefully, resisting the urge to go “tribal” and engage in black and white, us versus them thinking.

The principle of multiple truths coexisting applies neatly to the aging process. On the one hand, the aging process is real, and as a result we are increasingly less able to function at the same level as when we were younger. Taking this to its inevitable conclusion, we are all going to die one day, at which point what we can and can’t do will be a moot point. That’s an irrefutable fact. Still, by eating right, getting plenty of exercise, and maintaining a positive attitude, we can forestall the aging process and continue to enjoy our lives during the increasingly limited time we have left. These two truths coexist.

Once again, the question is: Which of these paths will you choose? The one that provides a convenient alibi for gaining weight, losing muscle mass, having more aches and pains, feeling less energetic, and lamenting your age? Or, a more youthful lifestyle designed to keep you feeling strong and vital, enabling you to enjoy the “home stretch” of your life to its highest potential.

We all know how this journey called life ends. The challenge before us is to act in a way that optimizes the likelihood that it will “come out right,” i.e., that we will make the most of our time here on Earth and harbor few regrets when the clock runs out. By dwelling on limitations, we lose what is precious about the gift of life, no matter how much of it remains to be lived. Choose wisely the truths that you embrace as your focus, and your life will truly come out right.

Concert of the week in Grateful Dead history: May 1, 1977 (Listen Now)

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