Saturday, September 6, 2008

dj the deadhead

This is something I did on December 31, 2007, which was New Year's Eve, and I was contemplating that whole "new start" thing...

"I have never been a quitter."

Richard Nixon

"I have never been a deadhead."


I was 10 during the summer of love. I remember that summer, and I had this little black transistor radio that I listened to at night after I'd gone to bed. I didn't like to go to sleep until I'd heard Light My Fire by the Doors, and All You Need Is Love by The Beatles (which sounded positively spooky at 1 AM to a 10 year old), and Canada by The Sugar Shoppe. That last one didn't get played all that much, and I would often have to give up by 2:30 AM and just go to sleep.

I have probably invested more emotional energy into music than into anything else. Now, I don't exactly play anything, though I did take guitar lessons when I was a kid, and I can play a mean blues harp, though I haven't actually done so in years and years. But I listen. I got interested when I was about 7; I got hooked at 8 when I discovered top 40 radio.

Now I have Mike Nesmith playing in the car, Marvin Gaye at my desk, Hot Tuna in the kitchen, and Johnny Rivers in bed. Oh, and I have the Staple Singers on my Walkman.

My tastes run the gamut. I got into Harry Nilsson big time when I was in high school, and also the English art-rock band Yes. Nilsson still amazes me, Yes less so, though I still put Close To The Edge up there as a classic. I tend to a partiality to music that the pundits love to hate, like John Denver, though I admit that in 1975 he turned into Barry Manilow, and Donovan.

But I never really got into the Dead. In fact, they've always kind of puzzled me. I mean they were the prototype hippie band. They actually lived in Haight-Ashbury, all together in the same house; they played for Ken Kesey's acid tests. They were among the first out of the starting gate with the whole acid rock thing. And then, when they finally hit their stride, what were they doing? Country rock.

Country rock.

Well of course I have Workingman's Dead, and I have American Beauty, and I have a bunch of their live albums, and Anthem Of The Sun, and some others. And there is no denying the beauty of Uncle John's Band. I just don't necessarily get it, that's all.

Still, there is something about Jerry Garcia that I find refreshing. Years ago I watched a multi-part TV documentary about the history of rock music, hosted by John Sebastian. There were interview snippets by a lot of different musicians, but Garcia is the one who always came across like he was enjoying himself immensely, but, unlike so many others, not at the expense of the subject matter. I just got the impression that here was a guy who had the right attitude.
And now I'm listening to their one and only top 40 hit, Touch Of Grey, and it speaks to where I am right now. I love it. "I will get by, I will survive."
I know the rent is in arrears, the dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears, but it's alright

And that's it. That's all of it. And that's everything. I will get by. I will survive.
I see so much affluence around me. So many people who have worked hard all their lives and who do not have to worry about how they are going to pay for groceries this month, who don't have to worry about where they will be living in six months, who can think about making weddings for their kids.
And here I am underemployed, underpaid, broke - and whining about it. But hey -

Oh well anyway, sorry that you feel that way.
Every silver lining's got a touch of grey
I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive.

(In case you're wondering, Canada by the Sugar Shoppe was a rocked up version of the song Bobby Gimby wrote and recorded for Canada's centenial in 1967.)

Touch Of Grey

No comments:

Locations of visitors to this page