Ten Years Ago Today.....
....I was 15 years old, and being a young, suburban Jew, had just witnessed my first two Phish concerts a few weeks ago. I was preparing to embark with the 'fam on a trip to Cape Cod, and had stocked my CD case with several Phish, and more importantly, Grateful Dead albums. In fact, I needed to make a quick stop off at my buddy Aaron's place to pick up a Dead bootleg on compact disc that I had lent to him last week.
I walk into his bedroom and turn on the radio, which was playing the Dead's hit single, "Touch of Grey." BFD, the radio always plays "Touch of Grey." Change the station, and I hear a version of "China Cat Sunflower" from the Europe '72 disc. Umm....considerably more random, but okay.
At which point Aaron blurts out, "HE'S DEAD!" Who's dead? Says I. "JERRY GARCIA!" Jigga what? After changing the radio dial to Connecticut's third and final (at that time....now there's only one) classic rock station and hearing another obscure Dead song, I realized it was true. Now I felt especially stupid for turning down the opportunity to see what would have been my one and only Dead show in Albany, NY a few weeks prior. Jerry Garcia was dead at the age of 53; not surprising in light of what homeboy did to his body coupled by his insane tour schedule, but too soon nevertheless, and still not a heck of a lot different than Keith Richards.
Despite being loaded with Dead tunes, the four-hour drive to Cape Cod sucked. Mike Lapatino from Connecticut rock station 99.1 WPLR was urging temperance among Deadheads, encouraging them to be thoughtful and listen to the tunes as opposed to "doing a big bag." The Dead classic "Eyes of the World" came on the radio, and my mom said, 'hey, this song is really good.' Damn right. The scene at Chatam, Cape Cod head shop "The Dead Zone" the next day was especially eerie....no music was playing, and all of the employees were silent and staring into space (probably just really stoned, actually).
So yeah...today was the 10th Anniversary of Jerry Garcia's death, and while Phil Lesh is still my favorite member of the Dead, losing Jerry still completely sucked. None of the post-Jerry incarnations of the Dead (e.g. "The Other Ones", Bob Weir's "Ratdog", "Phil Lesh and Friends", and all of the members minus Jerry known simply as "The Dead") have come close to capturing the feel of the real thing, although the uber-Dead cover band (e.g. they cover whole shows with the proper equipment setup) "Dark Star Orchestra" is lots of fun. Like Ryan Adams, I feel no shame in listening to the Grateful Dead with much fervor, and plan on listening to "That's It For the Other One" from 2/13/70 in full before heading off to sleep. R.I.P. dude!