Last week, I wrote about listening to music in the car, but where I hear the most music is in our home, thanks to David, who keeps me entertained all day long.
Whether he is hanging out in his main room downstairs or in a bedroom upstairs, I am always able to get an earful of whatever he has on.
He likes to play a variety of music these days, with jazz topping the list, whereas when I first met him, he was all about the Grateful Dead. This is a band I had judged in my teen/young adult years to have some kind of an underground, cult following, because I had never heard them on the radio, nor were they part of my concert-going scene or of interest to anyone I knew.
Before I married him, I couldn’t believe that after years of poking fun of Dead Heads, I was going to end up with one. I wasn’t sure how this characteristic would play out in our relationship, given how much of his free time and energy was channeled to the Dead, but the rest of him seemed kind of normal and workable, so I figured…what the heck, I’ll give it a shot 😊
It’s been a fun ride living with a Dead aficionado for lots of reasons, the most intriguing of all is how passionate he and his friends have remained about the Dead for so many years. It’s one thing to be an MLB or March Madness enthusiast with lots of games and players to assess, but it has been over 25 years since Garcia died and the “real” Grateful Dead ended, yet the community and level of interaction among the fans is as strong as ever.
My kids always got a kick out of David’s Dead Head status, which was good for blended family harmony too, so I embraced it. He’d make it a game to ask them to throw out a date, any date, and then he’d name the specific venue the Dead played that night along with the set list (unless they didn’t play). As you would expect, Lauren and Matthew were more advanced with their knowledge and they’d kick off the game by reciting a set list, and then David would announce the corresponding concert location.
It’s all impressive, for sure, but N U T S, too.
He dates his love affair with The Dead to have started in the mid-1970s, when he and his childhood (and adult) friends Roger and Andy spent years in high school and college trekking around the east coast to see Garcia and the Dead wherever they played. Between 1977-1995, they saw about 150 Dead concerts and another 30-40 Garcia and related music concerts.
While they remain deep in the Dead world, these guys – and other friends David has made along the way with the Dead as the ignitor – spend more time talking about non-Dead related things, but they always go back there. What may start as a post on a Dead forum between David and someone he’s never met – he has tons of friends in this category - may quickly become a lively phone conversation with David energetically talking about shows, recordings, new releases, equipment to enhance the music, Garcia’s life and so on.
Over time, he and many of these guys developed an enthusiasm for jazz, which I initially found to be surprising – as well as relieving, I must say – until David explained that the improvisational nature of jazz is similar to the Dead’s improvisation between the written beginning and end of songs.
I welcomed the jazz for the change that it was but found some of it displeasing, as it came across as loud, disorganized, unsettling and not the kind of music I wanted in the background as I was relaxing. But then he introduced other pieces with a greater saxophone, trumpet, trombone and piano presence, and I was hooked.
One day, I heard the most amazing tune that I recognized as a version of “My Favorite Things” from "The Sound of Music.” It was played by the crazily talented John Coltrane. Let me tell you this song is 14 minutes of heaven.
I was so engaged with it that David made me a CD of just this one song...sound familiar from my post last week about “Ants Marching” by Dave Matthews? I played “My Favorite Things” whenever I was in the car in my typically obsessive way – over and over and over again. I just couldn’t get enough!
This jazz crush of David’s is boding really well for me, because there is an endless amount out there, and so much of it is absolutely fantastic.
He may not have gotten here without the Dead first, so Thank You, Jerry Garcia!