Fare Thee Well.


“It ain’t over till it’s over”, Yogi Berra

Alas Yogi, it will soon be over. In Chicago–on July 3, 4 and 5 at Soldier Field–the Grateful Dead will be playing their final shows. 50 years of the Grateful Dead will be coming to a close. Truth is that the Dead as we knew and loved them ended almost 20 years ago in August 1995 when Jerry Garcia died. But the “Others Ones” which they titled themselves in the early post-Jerry era have continued on and continued to bring us musical joy. It’s unclear what the musical plans of the members are for the future.

The Chicago shows will feature original members Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann as well as Bruce Hornsby, Trey Anastasio, and Jeff Chimenti. Personally I am not wild about Trey’s (aka “Dead lite”) involvement; I’d much prefer John Kadelecik, from the Dark Star Orchestra on lead guitar who has toured with Furthur. Be that as it may, I know the shows will be great.

I’ve seen the Grateful Dead and their various incarnations 60+ times which puts me on the low end of zealot Deadheads. Half of the shows I attended were in the 70s. But I remember listening to their music (and playing their music as a DJ on my college station WRSU) at Rutgers in the early 70s. I remember the excitement of hearing new music from Workingman’s Dead, American Beauty, and Europe ‘72. And back then I still appreciated the “older” (late 60s) Dead albums as well.

In fact my first experience with the Grateful Dead was walking into a friend’s dorm room at Rutgers and hearing Saint Stephen from Live Dead:

Saint Stephen with a rose, in and out of the garden he goes,
Country garden in the wind and the rain,
Wherever he goes the people all complain.

Whoa! Nothing like I had ever heard before. They had me at “Saint”.

As a marketer I’ve also come to appreciate the Grateful Dead over the years for their genius. They understood “social media” long before the technology existed. They understood sharing, community and engagement. And it was and has always been genuine.

I hope to see and hear the various Dead members perform in the future after this summer. Who knows when or where I will be able to do so. They’re not spring chicken so who knows for how long they will perform individually. But what I do know is that they’ve given me and millions of others years of enjoyment in a way other bands could only hope to achieve.

Fare you well, fare you well
I love you more than words can tell
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
to rock my soul

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