My Onion Pi

If you can figure out the name, you'll know what it's about. Fortunately, I'm literate. I'm also funny on occasion. Just beware of the flying PMS.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Dead

This has been a really hard post to write. I think I started writing this Monday night. I had to keep stopping because I had to have a good cry every hour or so that I tried to search for pictures and upload them. This was one of the happiest times of my entire life. If I could, I would go back there in a minute, and take the little Hams with me. I was never so happy and free as when I had the Grateful Dead in my life, and I will never be that happy or free ever again. It wasn't just the music, or the road trips, it was the people. It was being in a group that felt like and thought like you did. It was seeing that there is a whole bunch of people all over the land that love the planet, hate the greed, decry the injustice, and embrace the possibilities of what we all can be. It was experiencing more love, more openness, more acceptance and more forgiveness than I ever had experienced in my life. It was shedding all the burdens around my shoulders, that everyone has seemed to place on me from the moment I was born. It was freedom like no other, because I was free to be me...all the time, every day that I was on the road. And that was a priceless gift. One that I'll never forget, and I'm so glad that I had the ability to finally "get it".

The "Further" bus

The Grateful Dead started off as the House Band for Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) and the Merry Prankster's Acid Test house parties in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco. They were originally called The Warlocks, but had to change the name, because somebody else had it first. The apocryphal story is that the name was picked out of the Dictionary by Jerry Garcia.

-Uncle Jerry-
(I miss you more than words can tell.)

"Standing on the moon
Where talk is cheap and vision true
standing on the moon
but I would rather be with you
Somewhere in San Francisco
On a back porch in July
Just looking up to heaven
at this crescent in the sky,
in the sky
Standing on the moon
With nothing left to do
A lovely view of Heaven
But I'd rather be with you,
Be with you..."

The original members. Left to Right: Jerry Garcia, "Pigpen" McKernan (keyboards), Bobby Weir, Bill Kreutzman (drummer) and Phil Lesh

Pigpen (fat guy in the middle) died of cirrhosis of the liver (at 27), and started the band on a trail of keyboard players that continued to meet their demise. (Kind of like the ill fated Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching position in Harry Potter...)

Mickey Hart was added later as a second drummer/percussionist. His father was the band's manager for a while...until he stole all their money and took off. Mickey left the band for a few years and when he returned....the song "He's Gone" and the image of Steal Your Face was born....

The Lyrics were about Mickey's father:

"Rat in a drain ditch, caught on a limb,
you know better but I know him.
Like I told you, Like I said,
steal the face right off your head.
Like a steam locomotive rolling down the track,
he's gone, gone, gone
and nothin's gonna bring him back,
he's gone.."

Brent Mydland was keyboardist #3...and my favorite...
he lasted 11 years before dying of cancer.

Keith Godchaux was keyboard player #2.
He died in a car accident.

Donna Godchaux; Keith's wife.
It was the only time the Dead had a female in the band.

Vince Welnick, keyboard player #4.
This time it was Jerry who died.

The Grateful Dead was more than a band, it was a philosophy one espoused.
It was the way you viewed life, it was the way you thought about things,
and about how you felt.

The Music was only a small part of it. It was the people and the "camp" that formed around each venue played. You could buy anything (and I mean anything) clothes, jewelry, bongs, stickers, great food....everything but tapes of the show....that just wasn't done. The Dead were the first band to allow taping at their shows, and it was just understood, you didn't make a profit off a friend...

When you were on the road, as you came closer to the venue, you would see the license plates: GR8FUL, SAMSON, TRUCKIN, SUGAREE, BLT2LST (for Built to Last),
ST STPHN (for St. Stephen), SOTM (for Standing on the Moon), RIPPLE and on and on...

Those wonderful, awful VW Buses.....

I first heard of the Grateful Dead when they came to town to perform a concert at the old Auditorium. I went with a rather uptight friend and had a terrible time. The band didn't perform like any band I had ever seen before and I just didn't "get it".
Years later, they came around again. This time it was in the summer, the 4th of July to be exact, and we didn't have tickets. I went with a different friend. We managed to get inside because we turned on the charm with the security guard...ahem...and once inside it was like a huge circus. There were people with their faces painted, there were jugglers and "Spinners" (people spinning around....don't ask's just what they did) there were people half naked and all naked, there were sights I had never seen before. And drugs? Holy Shit... It was wild. I still didn't "get it" but I sure did have a good time.

Years later I met a guy who was a "Dead Head". He wasn't a taper, but had enough friends who were, so he managed to have a pretty nice collection. He played them in his car, and after a while I found the music was pretty good, and the lyrics were deeper than most.
I remember when I finally "got it". I was listening to a studio recorded version of High Time:

"You told me good-bye,
How was I to know,
You didn't mean good-bye,
you meant please
don't let me go.
I was having a high time,
living the good life,
Well, I know

The wheels are muddy
Got a ton of hay
Now listen here baby,
'cause I mean what I say,
I'm having a hard time
living the good life
Well, I know

I was losing time
I had nothing to do
No one to fight
I came to you
Wheels broke down
The leader won't draw
The line is busted
the last one I saw

Tomomorrow come trouble
Tomorrow come pain
Now don't think too hard baby
'cause you know what I'm saying
I could show you a high time
living the good life
Don't be that way

Nothing's for certain
It could always go wrong
Come in when it's raining
Go on out when it's gone
We could have us a high time
living the good life
Well, I know

I can't explain it other than to say, it seemed to me to be the most spiritual song I had ever heard. In some way it tapped into everything I had been trying to be or do up to that point in my life - and why it was all failing. In a strange way, it was like talking to God. Jerry had a way of doing that, saying just what you needed to hear. When my old boyfriend found me sitting there with tears streaming down my face, all he said was "You just got it, didn't you?"
And I did.
I did.

Thank you Jerry, Thank you for everything.
"Fare you well, fare you well, I love you more than words can tell."

From the bottom of my heart
Love, Hammy


At Wed Mar 08, 03:44:00 PM, Blogger kimmyk said...

When I hear about the Grateful Dead I think of like free love and Marilyn Manson. Although, I know the two have nothing to do with each other-it just reminds me of that whole "time".

It was nice to sort of live it through you, although I still don't get it. Probably never will. But I respect it.

At Wed Mar 08, 03:45:00 PM, Blogger kimmyk said...

Oops. Not Marilyn Manson-Charles Manson.

At Thu Mar 09, 01:21:00 AM, Blogger WDKY said...

Touching post, Hammy... I was never really a Deadhead, although I enjoyed their music and had an album or two... cutlurally, it was a much bigger thing Stateside, I think. Sad losses, all of them.

At Thu Mar 09, 04:59:00 AM, Blogger Hamrose said...

The Dead were definitely a US phenomena. They had one big European tour but for the most part they toured within the continental states.

Yikes Kimmy! Charles Manson (and the other one for that matter) are pretty far removed from the Dead girlfriend. (I think you're mixing it up with the whole Helter Skelter thing)

I think you would have made a great Dead Head Kimmy. You would have loved it....I just have a feeling....

At Thu Mar 09, 09:56:00 AM, Blogger kimmyk said...

It's that free love and free flowing attitude I think that confuses me. I will say this though-I love Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream!

If thier music could give me that all over warm fuzzy feeling like the ice cream does? I think I would have truly enjoyed it too.

At Thu Mar 09, 10:31:00 AM, Blogger Chuck said...

Definitely something lost in translation when all you have is a tape, CD or album. You have to experience the dead.

Hammie, I think you can find a lot of what you miss in certain biker cultures...maybe even a bit more. How's that coming by the way?

At Thu Mar 09, 12:05:00 PM, Blogger Jeff Vachon said...

I am also a fan of the Dead. Now I am 45 and reminice about going to the concerts, smoking a J and feeling the power of the band. Maybe I saw you there Hammy.

At Thu Mar 09, 05:02:00 PM, Blogger Hamrose said...

Kimmy...there's no such thing as free love girl. It's very costly. LOL

Yeah, Chuck I kind thought that actually...The motorcycle course starts after April 7th. I need to work the dates out so that I try to go the same week that Ron (from the gym) is on vacation. Otherwise I'll miss 2 weeks from the gym (which I don't want to do). I need to get my permit. I've been studying the book dutifully.

Maybe ya did see me Jeff! I was the one in the Tie Dye T-shirt, with the long cotton print skirt, leather sandles and the ankle braclet made of little bells...LOL...

That narrows it down a bit huh?

At Thu Mar 09, 05:36:00 PM, Blogger CoffeeDog said...

I'm like Kimmy - I respect the Dead, but I never "got" it. Rock on Hammy!

At Fri Mar 10, 06:42:00 AM, Blogger Chuck said...

Don't want to miss the gym. I heading to Dallas for a week and am looking for a place to work out. I hate to miss any.

Have you started looking at leathers, boots and stuff?

At Fri Mar 10, 01:07:00 PM, Blogger Jeff Vachon said...

YOU were the one in the Tie Dye T-shirt, with the long cotton print skirt, leather sandles and the ankle bracelet made of little bells??? We slept together!

At Mon Mar 13, 08:21:00 AM, Blogger Hamrose said...

Really! Was it good?? ;-)

At Mon Mar 13, 08:32:00 AM, Blogger Jeff Vachon said...

It was for you. ; )

At Mon Mar 13, 09:03:00 AM, Blogger Hamrose said...

Oh, then it couldn't have been me!!
I...ahem...have never had any complaints...


At Fri Mar 24, 09:04:00 AM, Blogger Rick said...

I'm sorry I missed the show. I'm sure I would have been in.


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