Sunday, February 27, 2011

Punk and Garcia. 2500+ hits!? I guess I've tapped into something...

You'll notice that there are a few musical touchstones that I have and will continue to return to again and again. The Velvet Underground, The Monkees, XTC, The Grateful Dead, The Beatles...well, what can you do?
In any case, my journey with the music of the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia continues to evolve. I won't get in to it now, but there's stuff of theirs I used to like but don't now (Pig Pen), and stuff that used to bore me but now I love (ballads like "Stella Blue" and "Ship of Fools"). There's stuff I'll never like/downright hate (a lot of Bob Weir songs and cover choices). There's stuff I'm still discovering (never listened to the track "Blues for Allah" until a few months ago. It's pretty rad and just plain weird! The whole middle bit reminds me of the space bits of SY's Daydream Nation; Also, I just listened to the final 4 Garcia Hunter songs all in a row and it sure made me sad--because they're all great--just played lackluster by a tired band); I've also obtained an enormous love of 75-80 Jerry Garcia Band. The band (whichever lineup) is tight and thus Jerry's playing takes on a whole different flavor without all the clutter.
Anyway, this past summer, I came across a radio interview that Garcia and his forever bass player, John Kahn, did at a Rochester, NY radio station in 1978. I was so enthralled to hear his enlightened and positive thoughts on punk/new wave that I was inspired to make this movie.
For the record, not everyone of his era felt the same way. Folks like Stephen Stills and Glen Frey were openly scornful of younger bands. Eric Clapton admitted that he was scared of punk rock--that it would make virtuosity (such as his own...I guess) extinct.
Jerry sees it for what it is. He remembers that the Dead started out as young and snotty, and that the natural course is that you get better and evolve, or die out.

The Dead have had many punk/alternative fans: Greg Ginn, Henry Rollins, Elvis Costello, Sublime, Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye, David Lowery, Ryan Adams and Lee Renaldo all come to mind. I feel akin to these folks in that I imagine that, like me, they hone in on the good aspects and ignore the things that make it all too easy to dislike the band. I like to make mixes for folks of just studio versions of songs--Dead and solo Garcia, from 67-80, and say "judge this as if you knew nothing about this band". That's how I started to get back into them 3 years ago after wiping them out of my consciousness around 1990.

NOTE: so far only one viewer has registered displeasure with my ribbing the meandering on-air commentary by John Kahn. And I explain that I know well his musical genius and his 20+ year musical partnership with Garcia. I'm sure I've also meandered aimlessly while being interviewed on the radio. I know I have. It takes one to know one (a space cadet. I'm neither a bass player or a junkie). Anyway, enjoy.

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