Deadhead Cyclist Archives
Deadhead Cyclist Archives
This Week in Grateful Dead History: Week 4 - January 22, 1978
One man gathers what another man spills
The often mysterious role music plays in human consciousness is a subject of great interest to scientific researchers and everyday music lovers alike. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated a link between music and our emotions, suggesting that there is great therapeutic value in the way music can move us.
A quick review of the Grateful Dead’s 30-year performance schedule reveals a glaring “asterisk” next to the year 1975. Sandwiched in between 40 shows in ’74 and 41 in ’76 – and with an average of almost 77 concerts per year over their entire history – the mere four appearances the band made during their hiatus in ’75 represented a significant challenge for the Deadicated.
I became a Deadhead in 1973, during the Keith and Donna era, and was deeply saddened when they left the band in 1979. Keith Godchaux was a phenomenally talented pianist, and to this day I love listening to his mostly understated playing on so many wonderful ’70s recordings. My first show with “the new guy” on keyboards was 10/19/80 at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater, and I was immediately impressed with the skill Brent Mydland displayed on keyboards, but even more so with his vocal contributions. While I understand, but never shared, the widespread antipathy felt by many Deadheads toward Donna Jean Godchaux, Brent’s arrival served to transform the Grateful Dead from a band that was often barely tolerable vocally to one that could really sing.
In 1974, around the same time I became a Deadhead, I came across a wonderful little book which made a permanent impression on me, called, “How to Make Your Life Work or Why Aren’t You Happy?” At the time, I found the central message in this book so compelling that I have retained it over several decades and used it as a life-guiding principle. This now-obscure book was a collaborative effort that featured the work of Ken Keyes (as opposed to Ken Kesey), a prominent countercultural figure, the author of 15 books (including the Handbook to Higher Consciousness) selling millions of copies, and the creator of the Living Love self-help system.
Jerry Garcia was repeatedly in trouble for skipping classes, and was discharged from the U.S. Army after repeatedly going A.W.O.L.; Bob Weir was expelled from nearly every school he attended; and I was suspended for refusing to interrupt a marching band practice I was leading when then-Governor Ronald Reagan visited my high school in Anaheim, California. The common threads running between the three of us are a rebellious attitude towards authority, intertwined with having endured a series of punishments for merely following the well-known Shakespearean principle (as stated by Polonius in Act 1, Scene 3 of “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark”): This above all: To thine own self be true.
Is there any more compelling storyline in the human experience than the knowledge of our imminent death and our unique ability to contemplate it? Think about it. What other factor in your life has had a more profound impact on your behavior and experiences? Drawing a blank, huh?
This Week in Grateful Dead History: Week 10 - March 2, 1969
I can’t walk you out in the morning dew today
Although she died in 1975, my maternal grandmother, Ruth Raben, née Issakson, has remained with me in spirit, throughout my life. My Grandma played a starring role in some of my fondest childhood memories, and her passing was my first, true encounter with death. I often wonder what her reaction would be if she were able to witness the world her grandchildren live in.
This Week in Grateful Dead History: Week 11 - March 9-10, 1981
A little bit further than you gone before
The 1968 Otis Redding tune, Hard To Handle, famously covered by the Grateful Dead in the late ’60s and early ’70s (and twice in 1981 with Etta James on lead vocals), featured the lyric, “Actions speak louder than words.” This contention is supported by researchers and scholars, dating back to Charles Darwin’s 1872 work of evolutionary theory, “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals,” in 1872. In the present tense, conventional wisdom suggests that NVC (Non-Verbal Communication) accounts for as much as 70-percent of human communication.
During a speech in Charlotte, VA on August 18, 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump stated (in his classic subliterate style), “But one thing I can promise you this: I will always tell you the truth.” But after being inaugurated as president on January 20, 2017, the man who promised to always tell the truth told ten lies on his first day in office and five more the following day. By the end of his term, four years later, Trump had spread such consequential falsehoods as that the COVID-19 pandemic would disappear “like a miracle,” and the 2020 presidential election had been stolen, due to fraud, inspiring his supporters to attack the Capitol on January 6, as the results of the election were being certified by Congress.
A few weeks ago we explored the seemingly oxymoronic nature of Grateful Dead as a band name. “Upon scrutiny” we came to the conclusion that the words, “grateful” and “dead,” are not the strange bedfellows they appear to be, but actually complement each other to perfection if considered in the context of the psychedelic-inspired “ego death” experience the band and most Deadheads were engaged in during the Acid Test years (and, of course, well beyond). Still, if there were a Jeopardy category called, “Strange band names of the Sixties,” Grateful Dead would most likely be the “Daily Double.” And there are plenty of other band names that came out of that same period that appear to defy logic, regardless of how hard you try to spin them.