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How the Grateful Dead changed my life (and it didn't take an acid trip) - pt. I

How the Grateful Dead changed my life (and it didn't take an acid trip) - pt. I

My relationship with the Grateful Dead is probably my most long-term one, starting before I was born. My dad was about the music, while my mom was about the scene. She used to photograph pre-show in the lot (if you’re not a Dead Head, the lot is where all the fans hang out before the show. It’s kinda like a factory of hippies slinging grilled cheeses and mushroom caps.). And like most Dead Heads, my parents were also Volkswagen lovers, with a royal blue 1969 beetle and a cherry red van. Well it was cherry red after it was black and it was black before my mom painted all over it. She was eccentric like that.

The Grateful Dead taught me about life, death, love and joy before I even understood those concepts. Whenever my parents played the Dead they were happy. And when Jerry Garcia died when I was 9 years old, I remember grasping the concept of grief. When I was an angsty teen, and my dad and I started having less and less in common, we shared our love for the Dead. 

But as I approached 18, I started to feel differently about music. What happened was I started to feel differently about my parents. They weren’t happy anymore. Our home wasn’t happy anymore. All I knew as a teenager was that I didn’t want to be like them - at all. So naturally I decided to pave my own way. It was out with the old and in with the new: Sigur Ros, Daft Punk, Grizzly Bear, and all the same indie stuff everyone else listened to. I went nearly a decade without the Dead.

What happened during that decade? Well, I was busy making a lot of feeble attempts to figure out a fool-proof method for not being like my parents. So I pledged my life to Jesus, for example. Christians promised me that if I accepted Jesus into my heart, I would live a happy and fulfilling life. What's not to love about that?

Oh and marriage! Marriage promised me a lifetime of never being alone. Sign me up.

Bless my precious heart - I did exactly what my parents did and thought my outcome would be better. It wasn't. 

Fast forward to age 27 when I’m recently divorced and at a complete loss for just about everything. Lo and behold, my family came to my rescue. Every morning for months I woke up to a text from my dad that said “Good morning, sunshine” because he sympathized with the dread of waking up alone after losing a partner. My sister packed up her shit and moved in with my depressed ass. My brother told me I needed to start smoking weed and after a lot of moral hangovers I told him he saved my life. And then they planned this trip to Chicago. You see, the Grateful Dead coincidentally celebrated 50 years that year, and they played a few reunion shows in California and Chi Town. So we went to Chicago. I remember seeing the Dead Heads in the Atlanta airport boarding my plane. The nostalgia of the Dead community started to set in and I remember thinking to myself, “I think I might actually still like this shit.”

Fast forward to the show. I’m sitting with my family and the Dead start to play a familiar tune: Althea. I’m all of a sudden flooded with memories - that treachery was tearing me limb from limb. I remember my first car. I remember the after-market Boston Acoustic speakers that put Althea on blast. I remember my first boyfriend. I remember listening to Althea in his black Denali. I remember my second boyfriend and I remember thinking, “Should I try to introduce him to this band?” And then thinking, “Nah, I don’t really like them that much anyways.” I remember my ex-husband and how he just dipped out and wasn’t ever coming home. I remember feeling bitter about how fucking temporary our marriage was. And then I looked at my family and thought about how they had showed up for me the past few months. I remember thinking that you can love someone and lose them and then love them again and realize you really never stopped loving them in the first place. Shit, that’s real love. That’s the love I share with the Grateful Dead. That's the love I share with my family. I found hope that night that I had more love to give and to receive than I had ever given myself credit for.

My logo is a spin off of the acid bears because they remind me of all the time we spend thinkin' a lot about less and less, and forgetting the love we bring

Peace,

JA + Hank

Althea

I told Althea I was feeling lost
Lacking in some direction
Althea told me upon scrutiny
That my back might need protection
I told Althea that treachery
Was tearing me limb from limb
Althea told me, now cool down boy
Settle back easy, Jim
You may be Saturday's child all grown
Moving with a pinch of grace
You may be a clown in the burying ground
Or just another pretty face
You may be the fate of Ophelia
Sleeping and perchance to dream
Honest to the point of recklessness 
Self-centred to the extreme
Ain't nobody messin' with you but you
Your friends are getting most concerned
Loose with the truth, maybe its your fire
Baby I hope you don't get burned
When the smoke has cleared, she said
That's what she said to me
You're gonna want a bed to lay your head
And a little sympathy
There are things you can replace
And others you cannot
The time has come to weigh those things
This space is gettin' hot
You know this space is gettin' hot
I told Althea, I'm a roving sign
That I was born to be a bachelor
Althea told me, OK that's fine
So now I'm trying to catch her
Can't talk to you without talking to me
We're guilty of the same old things
Thinking a lot about less and less
And forgetting the love we bring

 

 

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