It’s always been a challenge for me explain to non-Dead Heads what the Grateful Dead experience is for me. It’s been such a lifelong love, has moved and changed me in so many ways, opened me up to things I never knew existed. It enhanced and strengthened my desire and ability for exploration, both externally and internally. And it showed me the power of music when it reaches beyond the limitations of studio recordings, but incorporates live improvisation and a desire to both channel and express emotion.
As much as I’ve written about this experience on the pages of this blog, as many times as I’ve sat down and tried to articulate it for folks who were either openly curious or accusatorily suspicious, I never felt I was able to find the proper way to describe why the Grateful Dead is such a tremendous and endless part of my every day life. To the outsider, I recognize that it seems needlessly obsessive, that it is foreign, confusing, baffling even. I get that. Nonetheless, there is something quite profound surrounding the Grateful Dead and the thousands of hours of live music they created over the course of 30 years. And the “fuss” about Jerry Garcia was anything but hyperbole. This was and remains a rare individual, a rare talent. To be able to work an instrument to translate emotions into sounds, to allow other human beings to deeply feel and experience what you are feeling in that instant, with such exhilaration and minuscule detail is the core essence of artistic expression and, for me, one of the greatest gifts human beings can share with one another. Yet, as much as I try to seek those words to illustrate what all of this means to me, I always fall short of doing justice to the experience.
Author, Dead-Head and all around amazing guy, Steve Silberman wrote a piece shortly after Jerry Garcia’s death in an attempt to capture what the Grateful Dead experience meant for him. I have never read anything that came so close to putting into words what I feel inside. Thank you, Steve, for taking the time to write this and for sharing it. I was deeply moved and elated. It is, for me, a voice of self-expression as deep and as genuine as the breathtaking spirit Garcia shared with us by way of his music.
You can read Steve’s piece THE ONLY SONG OF GOD here: http://www.stevesilberman.com/songofgod/