This is one of those days I can definitely tell you where I was. 7/9/95. Soldier Field. Watching Jerry walk off stage after the surprise Box of Rain second encore after yet another tired performance by Jerry. Lots of us were worried it was the last time. It had been such a hard tour. For us and especially for Jerry it turns out.
This year I'm thinking about this even more as I recently outlived Jerry, turning 54 last month. And I'm still--with last year standing as the lone exception over the decades--for the most part On Tour. And there are a lot of us out there advancing in age and still hitting the lot, working our boogie all day, dancing all night, moving onto the next show, wash rinse repeat for months.
Which brings me to the amazing physical specimens of Bobby, Mickey and Bill--all quickly advancing septuagenarians--once again embarking on a 30+ show tour that hits pretty much every corner of the USA and most in between. With so many of us young at heart (and many on heart medications) in tow crossing our fingers our luck holds up and we get a few more tours out of this particular incarnation of the Dead phenomenon. Full knowing our children will probably be bragging about how they saw Bobby AND Mickey at the next Joe Russo's Almost Dead and Company featuring Billy Strings show in some not so distant future where we're gone and they're still on tour.
Because that's the enduring nature of us. It started with the bus coming by and picking up Bobby...with Cowboy Neal at the wheel--Dean Moriarity from Kerouac's On the Road, a book which inspired many a teenager to burn burn burn like Roman Candles and who never say a commonplace thing and are still on the road with the band whenever it hits the road. All these decades later.
Jerry's a huge main character in a drama now encompassing a huge part of our common culture. It keeps growing in new and interesting ways. You can't swing a dead China Cat without hitting another Dead cover band...and I recently attended Peach where fully two nights were headlined by Dead cover bands who continue to push the boundaries of what Bobby, Jerry, Pigpen, Phil, Mickey, and Bill started in a pizza place in San Francisco in 1966. I cried during Doom Flamingo's version of Touch of Grey and I didn't see even one set where a Dead song wasn't played in 5 days.
And now we're closing in on yet another epic Dead and Co. nationwide tour. A tour none of us could have envisioned as Jerry walked off the stage and toward the Great Beyond in the picture above. And yet here I am, getting the printer lined up to supply the next generation with the books that I must admit have clearly fueled the proliferation these songs we love so much and continue to hold relevance and inspire new generations with their catchy beats, amazing jams, and important simple life lessons.
Much love to us all...and See You on the Lot Soon!