The American reckoning is here.
We are a troubled people lurching toward an untenable election. Whoever wins and however it’s fixed by the legal eagles, a portion of the population will be outraged. Their outrage won’t be justified but it will be real. Sadly, a great deal of the outrage is manufactured. Outrage, like cloaked language and promises that never come true is all part of the show now.
I recall my own outrage at the rise of Reagan and Bush. “The War on Drugs” was one of their signature policies. Of course, it was never a war on drugs…
Grateful Dead and its leader, Jerry Garcia, opted out of conventional modes and frameworks. He did not follow convention, he defied it artfully. Growing up in the Mission District of San Francisco during the Beat generation was formative, and Jerry was not going to be a square. Jerry was going to be an artist and an adventurer.
Folk music was the music of cultural change, and Jerry liked the sounds made by the banjo — an instrument with African-American roots. Jerry also learned to play the pedal steel guitar. Both instruments are critical to Country music, then and now.
“Jerry was the Sun of the Grateful Dead — the music they played was like planets orbiting around him.” -Carlos Santana
Jerry Garcia was exceptional and he was strong, but he didn’t want to be the leader. He didn’t want to tell people what to do.
With this old school leadership model in mind, Jerry never claimed to be the leader of the band, even though it was obvious to everyone in the band that he was not just the leader, but the heart and soul of Grateful Dead.
As a business, the band sought to function as a family…
Jerry Garcia achieved great things. He was an artist with a unique vision and a unique ability to convey his vision. He was also a hero to many, and a rock icon to many more.
He was also a nice man with a large heart and a gentle spirit. There’s plenty of evidence, including my own anecdotal evidence. I met Jerry one morning, completely by chance at his local grocery store in Marin County. I wanted to give him some space. He wanted to chat. Because he was gregarious and he loved his fans.
In 2013, to celebrate 9 Days…
Making music requires intense concentration, active listening, plus physical coordination and stamina.
Making music live in front of a paying audience is even more rigorous.
Jerry Garcia Life Lesson: Stretch
Stretching is both a physical act and a metaphorical framework.
Top performers stretch to achieve a desired state of limberness, which in turn allows them to reach much further and higher than they otherwise could. Before going on stage, Jerry used to run through scales to prepare himself physically for the challenges of playing a three-to-five hour show. …
Jerome Garcia grew up in The Mission District. His dad was a professional musician. You live what you learn.
What Jerry learned was to make things from available materials, and make things happen with the people and talent at hand. Phil Lesh, for instance, did not know how to play bass when Jerry asked him to join the band as bass player.
Phil was a budding composer of classical music, and Jerry liked he musical mind, so he taught him to play bass.
Jerry Garcia Life Lesson: Improvise
Jerry’s brother, Tiff, accidentally removed his little brother’s middle finger with an…
You have to learn the rules before you can begin to artfully deconstruct them.
Of course, all serious artists and thinkers do learn the rules first, it’s the artful deconstruction of said rules that eludes so many.
Jerry Garcia Life Lesson: Defy Convention
Jerry Garcia grew up in the 1950s–a time of mass conformity in America, San Francisco included. So, where did he acquire the ambition it took to dream his own dreams, think his own thoughts and live his own life? I can’t say for sure, but this kind of inner confidence is typically the result of strong parenting.
It is fashionable today to “fail harder” and to “fail faster.”
These concepts from the worlds of communications and technology are meant to take the sting out of failure — the purpose being to encourage the kind of risk taking that accelerates growth and positive change.
Jerry Garcia Life Lesson: Take Risks
Playing it safe wasn’t Jerry’s way. He was an explorer, and by definition explorers take calculated risks. Sadly, when explorers lose their way, they can also lose their ability to calculate. Such was Jerry’s burden when it came to hard drugs, heroin in particular.
But it is not…
To persevere is to live.
To continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no indication of success is the path taken by artists and entrepreneurs. It can be a lonely path that requires deep reservoirs of faith and gumption. It helps to find fellow travelers and to be dedicated to the work, whatever “the work” means for you.
Jerry Garcia Life Lesson: Persevere
Grateful Dead formed in 1965. The band’s first hit, “Touch of Grey,” a song interestingly enough about perseverance, reached the airwaves in 1987, 22 years later.