THE MAILBAG 8.06.96
Subj: You're gone, but you're still here!
Date: Jul 20 1996 6:48 AM EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (BD)
Hello Robert Hunter.
This web site is *so* completely delightful. It's like *reading* a
That same wild whirling, swirling descent into heaven abounds here in all
that you share with us, and in all that others are sharing with you. The
amazing thing is, we *miss* you because you're gone, and yet you're still
here! Ten years ago I never would have believed such technology was
possible . . . Thank you for your ever increasing skillful use of it!
Micky Hart was astounding tonight at the opening of the Olympics.
How appropriate that he was invited. Such an ambassador to the Universe.
Please don't rush home. I'm loving the trip to the English
countryside. Take us all to France with you!
hmm - not France this time. Maybe Scotland?
Date: Jul 22 1996 3:07 AM EDT
Thank you for including the transcript of Jerry Garcia's phone conversation with you in your home page. It's sometimes the smallest items of importance that show you the greatest meaning. I'm including one of my favorite American poems, I'm sure you're familiar with it but i always like to roll it over in my mind every once in a while....
THAT MUSIC ALL ROUND ME
That music always round me, unceasing, unbeginning, yet long untaught I did not
But now the chorus I hear and am elated,
A tenor, strong, ascending with power and health, with glad notes of daybreak I hear,
A soprano at intervals sailing buoyantly over the tops of immense waves,
A transparent base shuddering lusciously under and through the universe,
A triumphant tutti, the funeral wailings with sweet flutes and violins, all these I fill
myself up with,
I hear not the volumes of sound merely, I am moved by the exquisite meanings,
I listen to the different voices winding in and out, striving, contending with fiery
vehemence to excel each other in emotion;
I do not think the performers know themselves-but now i think i begin to know them.
...I love this piece, always make me think of The Band(especially "We Can Talk" from Music From Big Pink) or the Staple Singers...
Keep up the good,
Date: Jul 21 1996 4:22 PM EDT
From: email@example.com (Tom & Nancy Melito)
Chapter 13 is a knockout. The sense of foreboding is
THICK. Jabajaba's feverish thoughts have been communicated very
effectively. I hope I can keep Lo out of my dreams tonight.
Fare Thee Well,
P.S. I hope we get to hear the perspective of the naked guy who stumbled through the drums, just for completeness sake ;)
thanks for the favorable review. Coming from you, I breathe easier and will move onto chapter 14 with renewed confidence.
Subj: Shit or shinola?
Date: Jul 22 1996 11:55 AM EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Brandt)
I was one of those who long ago asked how you felt about
not being on the official band roster, but at the time you never
really answered that part of my query. The new Journal answered
completely. I really related to this part:
>I make bold propositions which often startle and are rarely
>implemented. Business has a head of its own, and it's rarely mine.
>My pattern is to remove myself when the conflict costs
>me my sense of direction. Business is the art of the compromise.
>I find it hard to compromise when the path through the shit
>seems so obvious. How do I know it's the
>path? It kind of shines.
I was recently fired from my job as a disc jockey after 17 years.
I always put music and creativity first in my priorities. Self-
promotion always rubbed me the wrong way. I just wanted to
present the music in an informed, listenable way without becoming
an obnoxious, self-promoting, ego-inflated "local celeb". Long story,
but suffice to say, times have changed. Music is now a
pre-programmed afterthought at most radio stations. When I would
try to convince management to implement some of my ideas,
I was always treated like some music-obsessed obsolete relic. I
would then retreat, and just concentrate on my airshift. My
ratings were good...#1 in afternoon-drive. My cynicism to this
encroaching new order of corporate rock grew and my retreat continued.
Never once did I compromise or sabatoge the quality of my airshit
during this period, holding on to my own sense of pride and loyalty
to the listeners that liked my approach. Anyway, the station changed hands
a bunch of times...new program directors were hired and ran the gamut
from the inept to the crack addicted. My contempt started to show I guess,
and I was unceremoniously let go. They must have thought I
was a powder keg set to blow, but they paid me a big bonus on the way out
due to my great ratings! The drag now is my overwhelming sense of
self-flaggelation, wondering if I should have bought into the
program...letting the tyranny of the masses dictate! Take what
I considered an artform down to the lowest common denominator and spew
out that party-til-you-puke-kick-ass-rock-here's-some-more-Kiss-and-
Bob-Seger-ad-nauseum. Engage in goofy DJ stunts in satin jackets
emblazoned with the station call letters. Is it selling out or
cashing in? I dunno...if I'd have played along, I'd still be getting
a paycheck. The station, of course, is doing OK without me. Time
marches on. Anyway, your journal this time reminded me of a lot
of the shit I been going through...I wish I had another creative
outlet to retreat to instead of facing becoming a salesman or worse.
Keep sharing the scary things with us. Your journal is real...
keep shining the light through the shit!
Other comments: Your last conversation with Jerry made me sad for all the
unrealized songs that might have been.
Oh, and BTW, what did you think of Scully's book?
if you've got that radical spark, it's wisest to do what it says, I figure. Plenty don't have such a spark, so they don't have much to lose by going with the program - whereas if you do the same as they do, you lose your self respect. The reason the torch isn't held high very often, or for very long, is because it's an expensive nuisance to do so. It helps to have a mate or a friend to back you up, because by any standard way of measuring things (pragmatism) it's crazy and you occasionally doubt yourself. It's a question of what you have to do to get by; how far you can go to keep the check coming and still keep your self respect, without deluding yourself.
Same answer applies to your last question.
Subj: lavender pretzels
best wishes for slow & relaxing times in the english countryside. i have been working on this letter to you for a while...was just about ready to send it, then didn't cause of your request to hold off on email. but i send it now...for selfish reasons, of course...there's just something in me that wants you to read my words before august rolls around. thank you for taking the time...you can always print it out & feed it to the sheep outside your window...baaaaa~
the churning inside me won't stop & i'm having a hard time moving on. maybe that's it...why do i have to "move on"? after feeling your spirit that's swirled through my mind for 23+ years, & now visiting your website on a more & more regular basis, i am compelled to reach out...it will do me good to send you this... knowing that you will read it & perhaps reflect a moment on this soul of mine...is all that i need~
life zooms on...i'm going thru the motions, but why does everything seem dull, lackluster? i keep waiting for something to happen...was my life so empty before...do i realize that fact only now that the band's packed up & gone? as i re-read...i see: that's it! i almost don't feel like there ever WAS a "before"... the music & experience surrounding the GDead has been such an integral part of my existence that i've not been without it in my "adult" life...but a lot of what i feel personally now is anxiety...
it's not like i can't accept the fact of jerry's death... altho' it pains me still, i know what is & isn't real...the scene didn't revolve around him... it's not just losing him... i knew he wasn't immortal ... he was just a regular guy like all of us, but in a very irregular position...
but i guess the fact is that i don't want it to be over... sometimes little things bring back the sting...other times i go looking for it...because i want to feel the pain...not wanting the ache to go away...because it was all too powerful to let fade...so we keep it going...never forgetting...i ache inside to recapture the moment... to feel the magic as the music fills the air...yes, i can do that thru tapes & CDs but there are those times that i flash on the fact that there will never ever be another StellaBlue... never ever be that anticipation as the tune-up takes us to our tip-toes as we listen for the first note. i so miss that feeling... should i just be grateful & shut up?
"songs of our own" becomes my mantra.... i know that they are inside each of us... & that it's now in our hands to go furthur with this journey.... i know that the person i am today is largely based on the influence i've felt from the spirit of the music... but why can't i go on? why is that so hard? here i am in my 40s feeling utterly lost~ i'm making mistakes...the same mistakes...& sometimes it feels like a downward-sucking spiral.
am i sniveling? i don't mean to...that's not my intent. discovering your presence on the internet has given me a lot of comfort in realizing that much of the magic IS still here...you just have to reach out. your recent comments about bob weir truly touched me... i have felt weir's pain...& knew that remarks he made were only masks for what must consume him...his brother, his best friend gone.... how could he even speak? so in an unexpected way, i find this cyber connection my closest link to being able to feel a sense of what seemed to me to be lost. to reach out to you---someone whose presence i've felt for so many years, but was never really "accessible" to me---& have a conversation with you, knowing you will read & digest my words, somehow really seems to make a difference to me...
mystery box is very exciting...i bought it the day it was released! your words are stunning...i look forward to the shoreline furthur to see it all come to life! reading posts about mickey on stage smiling from ear-to-ear, your own enthusiasm about this next step creates a contagious excitement in me! i truly anticipate an experience that will be comforting and uplifting...i can't wait!
one paragraph i will dedicate to extoling the beautiful lyrics you've graced us with over the years: Marie Helena has to be one of my all-time favorites...so many times i've closed my eyes to take that journey...smell the salty air...hear the creak of the vessel rocked by its liquid cradle...it has been my pleasure to enlighten many of my friends to it...thank you. & then there's stella, & attics, & ...world to give, & days between, uncle johns, box of rain, scarlet, cupful of rain, black muddy, wharf rat ...how can i list all your songs that have touched my soul to its core...over & over & over? don't stop...
i will be attending the Light the Song retreat in august on the east coast....seems like just what i might be looking for. i was curious about what you thought about that gathering...&/or why you were not going to be in attendance (of course, you're in jolly olde....). being given the opportunity to intimately discuss the impact of the past 30 years with some of the people most closely involved---not to mention dheads---should either help straighten me out or really screw me up! & yes, i'll say it: i wish you were going to be there. period.
may the remainder of your time away bring you rest, inspiration, & contemplation... thanx for enriching the 'net with your Archives....& for making an indelible impression on my life...blessings to you & yours!
p.s. was that story of the scuba diver found in the burned-out forest really true???
reading your eloquent letter I find myself wondering if the place you've come to might not be one you were bound to arrive at regardless of the fate of the Grateful Dead.
In your forties lots of closure, often via death, is bound to happen. There's more and more of it decade by decade. Moving on is more a fact of life than a decision consciously made.
Say, for example, the band had continued, with a break for a heart bypass operation for Jerry, and the problems with the crowd escalated even more? Suppose the shows became insuperably problematic to attend? It was not only headed that way, you know, it was full upon us. And say the music was suffering for this, the whole inspiration - because what kind of thoughtful musicians would expose crowds to that kind of thing just to make money or jam?
What I'm driving at is the very likely probability that you and many others would find that what was so good and moving in what the GD was being destroyed by circumstance. Entropy, if you will. What happened had to happen pretty soon, whether via death or retirement. The fractalization into smaller units, forced by necessity, is probably the only real solution. Downscaling for the Dead was impossible. We were about ready for another quantum leap and it would have been a disaster.
So, doesn't it seem possible that your present blues might just as well have been effected by a different cause? Loss of faith rather than loss of what once engaged your faith? A lot of people were already caught in that quandry. The music was often not all that hot and many didn't like what we were becoming. A mega-stadium powerhouse. Venues were closing their doors to us. Violence was erupting. It was a personal quandry for me. I often felt we should call it a day. Jerry often felt the immanence of true disaster. But who rides the tiger fears to dismount.
It's nice that you like the new music. We all know it'll never be the same. But now we've got roots. In ourselves. Odd concept, but it seems to be so.
My web page - what there is of true use in it, over and above self expression as an artist - is largely about dealing with these changes. You are speaking for more people than you realize in your letter. And this answer is for more than one. Though I will hold your letter personal, as requested, it occurs to me that the reply need not be so, though I'll not use your name and address.
The vacation is going well, thanks. Not relaxing into a puddle on the floor, but feeling less burned day by day. I think it's working.
The talk circuit just isn't my mode of expression. This is.
your guess is as good as mine about the diver in the forest.
Date: Jul 16 1996 2:45 AM ED
thank you for your thoughtful reply...as always, your words give me a different perspective from which to reflect on my own feelings~
part of what you said is difficult for me...the entropy part...perhaps because of denial more than anything else...but i was one of those people who held out the hope that we could, would rise above all those circumstantial landmines in our path...just look how far we'd come! but the level of severity was building....having to assimilate so much so fast...it was getting bigger & bigger...i read the ThisDarknessGotToGive message the band posted last summer...i know all the violence had to have an unnerving effect on them...it was disturbing to me! many of the new folks onboard looking for an excuse to party...& i somehow felt a sense of responsibility. i was hoping the band would take its long, overdue rest....hindsight. what's that quote... don't mean shit to a tree.
i'd like to ask you, if i may, to explain a bit more what you said about faith... your words: <...doesn't it seem possible your present blues might just as well have been effected by a different cause? Loss of faith rather than loss of what once engaged your faith?> i'm not sure i understand what you mean. not to get all philosophical or anything, but what is faith? the dictionary says "confident belief in the truth, value or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or a thing...a belief not resting on logical proof or material evidence." the value & truth the gd represented to me was the belief in the purity of love we share for each other while we're on this planet...being together as a community... with the music as the core... produced for me a sense of true purpose...a reason to create a harmonious existence together. a bit idealistic for most, but nonetheless, that equanimity of love i felt was real & important to me. if that is my "faith," i feel it not lost at all... in fact, at times i feel it's stronger than ever. so altho what engaged my faith might now be gone, my faith is still there... isn't it?
a reply without a letter....sounds like something right down your alley! your words echo deep, & your site has helped jumpstart my heart & mind...so you have my permission to post my letter or whatever portion thereof if you'd like. i might as well climb on the kitty and ride...
read with joy your story of meeting mr. foley...thank you so much for sharing it... lovely, absolutely lovely...i agree that you're a good man, mr hunter...
one more thing, please...could you tell us about row, jimmy sometime? there were no notes in Box of Rain about it... a soulful favorite...that piques my curiosity...do tell?
I meant to speak of "faith in" not faith itself.
It seemed important to consider the problematic state of the phenomenon in which you'd chosen to invest faith. What is depended on too greatly may crumble under the weight of the very faith being rested upon it when conditions change. Not a particularly delightful concept.
The "circumstantial landmines" you speak of were compounded by "personal landmines" as is always the case. In hindsight, folks are hearing the warnings in the songs they thought "mystical" or "oblique" but were often just commonsense estimations, clothed in rhyme, of the situation we helped foster, viewed from our side of the fence.
I burn my candle at both ends/ It cannot last the night
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends/ It makes a lovely light!
Row Jimmy? Just relate it to the situation. The writing has been prominently posted on the wall for decades.
Subj: The band
Date: Jul 22 1996 11:02 AM EDT
From: email@example.com (Steve Wright)
Completely disagree with...If you're thinking of the writer instead of
the performer, then something's wrong with the words (paraphrase).
Had a great discussion with fellow heads on the topic....some agreed,
I'd like the Grateful Dead even if you hadn't been involved (chiefly in
many occasions) in the creative process; I love them because *you*
If i had a nickel for every message posted about "your words really
spoke to me" I'd have more than a few nickels but, hey, if you hear it
enough times you start to believe in it.
I don't think of you when I'm listening to the band, hell I don't even
think of the band; I just enjoy the music.
It's riding home in the car, after having the time of my life at a show
(or Festival), completely drawn and exhausted, reviewing the evening's
bliss, when thoughts wander toward the mechanics of it all.
You said you smile every time you hear someone say you're every bit a
*member* of the band as anybody else.
Here's hoping this week's mailbag brings you many....
a very kind letter, though by smile I meant no cheery skyward tilt to the corners of the mouth - more a somewhat grim sense of stepping a a little bit out of galling obscurity when it really makes very little personal difference. There's not much I can do with it at my age, in my physical condition. It's a young person's game and that I am not. . . nor am I in any sort of "having the last laugh" space. There's nothing to laugh about unless tragedy is your cup of tea. My business now is serious: to use what profile I can muster to make sure that the big time lessons we've all been exposed to are learned by those capable of learning them, and that the community survives. If that doesn't happen, the Grateful Dead were just an entertaining object lesson in futility.
Subj: The Muse
Date: Jul 23 1996 12:05 AM EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Robert Auritt)
Your words have meant a great deal to me over the past decade or so. I want
to tell you that your online journal has become very important to me. I am
currently a law student in New York City, and I have been struggling for a
long time to balance my creative side with something practical. Even if
this was a lame idea in the first place, Its a necessity now, as I've
amassed a large debt due to law school. The major problem is that I have
always felt like an artist without a medium. I have tried my hand at
music, art and creative writing, among other things, but I was never
satisfied with my results. This is probably because I am a bit lazy by
nature and never really stuck with anything for too long. Finding the
"other" while dancing with the Dead can only go so far when there is no
more Dead to dance to. What I have learned since JG's death (which I knew
before he was gone, but on which I was too lazy to act) is that I need to
look within to find magic. I have a feeling that if I do not address this
problem it will continue to haunt me years from now. At any rate, reading
your journal has inspired me. For whatever reason I connect my continuing
search for a viable creative outlet with your continuing sketches of your
own life and creative spirit. From reading your journals I know that you
have struggled with having to reconcile the need to put bread on the table
and your need to get out that which is within you. I know that holding
back creative energy creates a sort of mental constipation in me, which
leads to a real gloomy feeling. So the question for someone who knows the
muse so well is: Any suggestions? Maybe I should try keeping my own
you guessed it. Just about the time deconstruction, semiotics and postm'ism have painted everybody into corners (except those who write about the work of others through those lenses) the Web handily opens up to provide a non-judgemental medium to which journal keeping seems an indeal response. Kinda here, kinda now, kinda fuckyou to the bullshit. The new HTML writing programs (like PageMill) take care of the code writing for you & some Internet sign up programs give you unlimited access time and free netpage space if you want it.
I can think of nothing more desirable than that the internet blossom with journals. It's an idea whose time has come. Go for it!
Subj: Furthur Magic
Date: Jul 22 1996 11:26 PM EDT
First off, I owe you an apology for a nosy question. I'm the one who unwisely asked
your thoughts on Skully's book a while back. You wisely did not answer that part of my
email. I had only just begun reading it when I asked you that. I've since finished it.
My impressions of the early part of it changed considerably after reading it through.
Many things I read I really didn't want to know.
But on to the point of my letter. I felt I had to add my thoughts to the letter in
your latest mailbag that said there was no magic at Furthur. I went to two Furthur shows
a few weeks apart. I felt the magic at both shows. Different kinds of magic but then,
the magic (I guess that's a good a word as any to describe it) at a Grateful Dead show
was never the same kind of magic twice, was it? The magic I felt at both Furthur shows
is best described in Phil's statement that WE are the Grateful Dead now. I now realize
that for me, it was important to go to two shows. The first show was for the past. For
saying goodbye and for allowing myself to wallow. During "Down the Road," when Mickey
spoke the lines about Jerry, tears came even though I'd heard the song before. My eyes
met those of another woman several feet away. She was crying too. We stared at each
other until we smiled through the tears and then we both nodded slowly. We didn't need
words, I read her thoughts exactly and I'm sure she read mine. Mickey smiled broadly
when he said those words, reflecting my conflict between remembering the joy and feeling
The second show was for the future and for moving on. For affirming Phil's statement.
I didn't need to wallow anymore; I just had a damn good time. At the second show I saw
examples of the magic everywhere in little things strangers did for one another. The
magic is there but if you look too hard you probably won't find it. But we all define
the magic a little differently.
Your journal pulls me in so deeply I forget where I am. Thank you for sharing it
with us, for creating a place for us to exchange thoughts and for inspiring so many
creative thoughts in my own head that I started to keep a journal of my own so I don't
next thing to do is get that journal online. There are plenty of fairly high profile independent GD oriented sites that I'm sure would be delighted to give URL listings for such potential treasures. What a garden we could grow!
You're right, magic is in the beholder - if enough people agree that it's present, why so it is! Lean on the whistle and don't look back!
Date: Jul 22 1996 10:59 PM EDT
Subj: Helping You Claim What's Yours
Well, first things first; I must express the obligatory compliments, gratitude and fascination with Dead.Net, and particularly your personal archive. I've been reading it religiously (I pray my boss doesn't catc me?!?!) since entry 1. I have pretty much explored and digested all areas of your on-line ego/id et al. Kudos, congrats and continuity karma vibes. Enough gushing; on to the purpose of this note.
Feel free to publish any and all of this on the archive, however I am writing for your eyes/benefit etc. as will become somewhat clear.
I am a 31 year old attorney, currently working for Sony Music International in New York, primarily doing business affairs work while also heading up Sony's anti-piracy unit. I have many years experience in the industry, as well as a family full of strange legacies. My dad used to run CBS Records Int'l and now represents (from a businee affairs perpective) Julio Iglesias, Ruben Blades, and administers many small to medium size music publishing cataloges including the Jose Feliciano classic, "Feliz Navidad"(If you knew how much publishing income that song generates in a year you would be amazed...many hundreds of thousands of $'s). My Uncle started a record company in the sixties called ESP Records. Their roster included The Fugs, Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman and many others. He had a novel approach to running a record company, not unlike the Dead, whereby the point was to take the incoming $$$ and use it to make more records. As a result, certain artists did not get paid what they wanted (but were paid in accordance with their contracts) and sued ny uncle. Although he successfully defended all of the suits, the very fact that these purportedly pro-social musicians became greedy when money came in was enough to sour him on the business. He/we still own many of the masters, but that's another story....Another uncle, dad (Norman) and Bernards brother (Steven), is credited with having founded/promoted the first incarnation of Pink Floyd. (He put together a concert at the Lyceum, a west end nightclub in London. Long story a tad longer, I am following in the family tradition even though I have some moral qualms regarding the interaction/dissonance of music and business as evidenced in the "music business"
I have tilted at windmills; arguing that controlled composition clauses are unconstitutional; fighting for the rights of writers to share in the "black-box" money (aka "unallocated income")
collected by the performance rights societies like BMI and ASCAP (sometime I'll tell you what those acronyms really mean)...Which brings me to the point of all this.........Drum roll please....I can help you recover money that is owed to you. As a veteran of some 250 shows, I am eternally grateful to you for the words you strung together (and coined) to form the lyrics of so many Dead songs. To say that the Dead's music was inspirational to me is like saying that Shakespeare wrote pretty good. My life has been so affected by the Dead, their music and "the scene" that no words do justice; nor is the effect quantifiable in any event as i will never know how I might have turned out otherwise.
********Brief transgression: I went Wesleyan University in Middletown Ct. (as did J. P. Barlowe). I graduated with a dual degree in English and Educational Studies. For state certification purposes, I had to teach a lesson plan and videotape it for review by the Connecticut State Board of Education. For this exercise I taught the lyrics of Terrapin Station as an introduction to epic (oops, Columbia Epic) epoch poetry. I did not mention that the 'poem' was a song, or that it had anything to do with the Grateful Dead until the very end of the class. The handout merely had the words and listed yourself as the author. It went very well; I have a video of it somewhere if you're interested.*****
The point of all this is that i have noticed that on a few occasions you have remarked on the relatively meager income that you receive from your work as the Grateful Dead's/Garcia's lyricist. Having no idea as to your arrangement with Ice Nine, GDP, Arista etc. I ca only speak generally. I have done some research into the allocation of BMI and ASCAP performance income and writer's share payments and can tell you that you have been shortchanged. Not greatly by Arista, but to some extent. Most of the money owed to you is in the hands of the performance rights societies currently; while a great deal of it has been mispaid due to systemic institutional reasons as well as human error.
RH- You have done more for me than words can tell. I would be honored to help you reclaim monies that should have been and should be paid to you. I seek nothing in return for this except a thank you. If you would like me to explain more about this to you, I can be e-mailed at email@example.com. I can also be reached by phone at 212-833-6491 (work) or 203-375-4820 (home) If you are not interested, I will understand, and you may feel free to print the transgression story, or any of this, in the mailbag.
Happy trails....I hope you take me up on my offer as I hate to see others unjustly enriched at your expense.
Andrew J Stollman, Esq.
thank you for your concern. This is going to sound like a total copout, but I get by just fine financially at this point and am not looking to get rich. I said to Maureen last night that I would fear to raise our standard of living to a point that an abrupt cash shortage would force me to do extravagant things to maintain it. (Can you believe this guy?) The increased standard of living attendent on sudden and disproportionate wealth is, to my mind, the source of the major problems which destroy the cameraderie of successful bands. And, quite frankly, I don't think there's any turning back. Two things which allowed the Grateful Dead to become what it was were lack of radio success over the years and lack of overwhelming wealth. We were given leave to grow musically, rather than as a financial empire. That came later, but the deed was already done.
As president of Ice-9 publishing I'm aware of the various ways my income has been compromised over the years and have developed an "easy come easy go" attitude about it. My catch phrase is: I refuse to get both feet in the trough and root. If others are taking advantage of me, on their own consciences be it.
Yes, I've felt angry and helpless concerning the subject at times, but looking back I have to say that getting this far with my spirit and creativity intact are far more important to me than getting an olympic sized swimming pool. Having "big money" is a career of its own. Owning half of the Garcia/Hunter catalogue (low record sales, next to no radio play - but extensive & enduring) provides me with a steady, sensible level of income. I don't mind driving used cars and my working-class ethic is not offended by achieving the status of a fat-cat, despite the size of my gut.
I know that this attitude is a luxury, but cheap at twice the price. When I see the contortions some of my friends have had to go through to maintain, or downscale, a monumental standard of living, I know I've made the right choice of values. Of what value are a rich man's songs, anyway? To whom do they relate?
Subj: A Fly in the Eye, Stuck on the Web of the World
Date: Jul 22 1996 5:25 AM EDT
From: Midnightlamp@msn.com (Jon Whitehead)
Dear Mr. Hunter,
I hate the formality of using Mr., yet there is no way I can justify to
myself the casual greeting such as, "Hey, Bob, what's shaking?" I'm fairly
new to the net, and I am just deft enough to find myself sometimes surfing in
the seductive tubes of the sweet succulent, and sometimes completely souring,
obscenities of women. Then there's the times I go in search of great wisdom
only to find that I have washed up on the shores of half brained tributes to
great people who deserve at least the dignity of having their tributes full of
truth. But, man, my feet were dangling in the cyberseas this evening when I
caught a glimpse of this wave on the horizon that I didn't know existed in
reality. I'd heard myths of perfect waves, and watched the Endless Summer a
time ot two, but not until I felt the force pull my stationary soul into the
dynamic whirlwinds of the ocean's power sending me into motion with a giant
green wall of water curving so perfectly around my head while the echoing of
sweet howls of Atlantis whispered into my ears, not until I could look from
the inside of such a beautiful tube at a porthole of outside sky barely
peeking in, not until then, could I ever believe it to be true. (...the
humming of under eternity, under eternity... is floating out of the speakers
misting music next to my computer, no shit...)
Alright, at this point you must think I'm a CrackerJack, but what I was
trying to say before I indulged myself, was simply, I stumbled upon your web
sight, and couldn't believe how accessible you actually were. I hope that that
was not an abuse of peon privilege, but I really feel as if I have ripped open
the curtain behind the great Wizard's ominous face to reveal the 'little man'
whose great mind is really what made the emerald eyes of Oz shine. And it's as
if my search has ended and somehow I want to ask, and plead, and beg for a
heart, a mind, and courage, as well as a way back home.
Yet, in all actuality, I know, all of the above is in each of us, sometimes
it only takes the confirmation of someone we respect to be able to believe it
ourselves. I'm 23 and live in Orlando, and have been a fan of yours for about
a third of my life. I'm not a Deadhead, per se, I couldn't tell you when they
played this song or that or what they were on when doing it, but their music
in conjunction with the wine that has bled from your pen has created to me
some of the most intense and elegantly beautiful Styrup Syrup, as I like to
call it, ever to have sweatened the ears of this here monkey.
Somehow, it may seem as if I'm carrying on some type of write-a-thon trying
to impress, the masterful Mr. Robert Huntrer, and to some extent it may be
true, but there is a core that finds itself intertwined in a much much deeper
root. I know I'm going to write and create for this long saga I will call my
life, and I have even had early success, being published with some local
popularity for my words and paintings at twenty, and asked to be a writing
editor for local zine, as they call them, at 21(I know, what a joke), and to
tell you the truth, as youth would have it, I let the dragon of Ego start
growing in the caverns of my mind. Then throw in a nice potent mixture of a
large assortment of very good drugs, and watch it grow some more. All at once
I came to see through the illusions, and ultimately, exploded from within.
While running for cover from the shrapnel of my soul, I decided that I wanted
nothing to do with a scene I couldn't truly believe in. It was full of
talkers, people with ideas but no potential to produce. It was full of
critics, and zombies, and more or less, the darker sides of modern humanity.
Don't get me wrong, though, I do truly believe in the goodness of people, and
have learned a great deal from a good many, but sometimes I still tend to
wonder. So be it.
Well, I took off to Seattle, to see the first annual Hendrix festival, and
ended up staying a while with an ex-girlfriend (who drove me crazy) to chill
out, clean up, and write for a while. And to make a long story short, because
I just realized I'm logging down some serious long winded language here. I
wandered around for a while, looking for a place to call home. And I ran into
the Beat elite, most of whom feel it more necessary to try to batter the ideas of
those not in their homogenized group than stop to see what each human can
offer. And beyond the many beautiful women, majestic scenery, and few artists
I met, I had to split, it wasn't the place for me.
Now, I'm getting to my point, I swear. See, I had a friend named Rusty who
was a permanent fixture of my house. He lived at home with his parents but
would be over by noon to wake the household up. Jake, my room mate, and I were
dealing pot then to survive, so we would sit around and smoke pot all day, and
drink all night. Sometimes if there was a bunch of people we would start
writing in the round (passing a notebook around the room writing a line and
then passing it until it was full and then the drunkest had the honor of
reading it out loud while trying to read everyone's handwriting.) Most of all,
though, we would just sit back and talk or play darts or just sit back and
listen to the stereo or listen to nothing but the insects ouside.
As far as Rusty's writing was concerned, he was this modern day Rimbaud, a
fucking great poet, whose words seemed to slide down from some cosmic
steamship that chugged along the stars in the sky. It was definately some
really morbid shit, though, tinted by such things as Baudelaire's Flowers of
Evil or the sorrowful puddles of Poe. And, yet, he was joyous and full of
laughter, with a talent to listen, which is only found in the wisest of us
all. Every time either one of us would write something new, we had to read it
to the other. We could sit around for hours just trying to make each others
work better. And that was the most amazing relationship I've ever had with
anyone, period. There was nothing queer about it, it was simply this mind to
mind understanding on a wavelength that was all our own. And when I got back
from Seattle he had totally fried himself with Ruphenal (I think that's how
they're spelled), heroin, angel trumpets, freon from air conditioning units,
you name it. He was a joneser and a junky, that couldn't control himself.
There had been many times I had tried to get him to publish his stuff in those
old days, and many times, too, I had told him he was damaging that gift of
matter he was given between the ears that was slowly being destroyed and
devoured by the things he put in this mouth or up his nose. But, I guess, for
some lack of self confidence or control, he would do neither.
About two months after I got back, right after the New Year, Rusty died
behind this church called the Good Shepard while huffing freon from the back
of the air con unit. It wasn't the normal freon that killed him though. The
church had switched to this new type of freon, called Freon 22, the stuff
froze his lungs instantly. And then Jake, who had come back from Newport
Beach, where he had gone to rehab, and was back only long enough to finish his
community service, overdosed three days later on herion. They were both 22,
and, yes, didn't mind dying.
I know I've taking you into the sap of some of my tangents, but if you're
still reading this, where I had originally intended this to go, was to let you
know, there were many days when we would sit and listen to Sentimental
sometimes not even trying to comprehend, but letting the the totality of the
words float back and forth across the room pulsated in rhythym their mighty
wisdom, letting that Styrup Syrup seep in. And for that, my friend, I am
Believe it or not, I think I can understand the way you must feel about
Jerry. Granted, you were lucky enough to spend a good part of a lifetime
together, creating a voice for a generation that sometimes had a hard time
just trying to speak. And, of course, you had your own world without the
Dead. But here I am, left without that other half of happiness, knowing the
solitude of that spiritual warrior who must hold his insides in his hands
before he can see what he's made of. And, although, I have been gored by life,
that doesn't keep me from being happy I'm alive so that I can explore the
wonders of nature even if it means sharing it, for now, only with my
notebook, the reflective mirror of the soul. "The world is but canvas to our
Thanks for letting me indulge, it's just seems surreal that I'm writing to
you at 5:00 in the morning as it has now become. I don't think this would
interest anyone on the net, so don't bother publishing it, this one's for you
and for Rusty and Jake. It's funny, though, Rusty did finally get published by
the Library of Congress with a piece entitled,
Just Another Fly Stuck on the Web of the World,
I will be moving, though, by next week, so if I don't hear from you,
you'll be seeing me around sooner or later.
Hey Jon, what's shakin?
You're dead wrong that no one on the net would want to read your letter. This is exactly the kind of stuff they DO want to read. Believe me, guts out is a rare commodity. Certainly some will view it with a jaundiced eye, but that's the nature of publishing. If your style is a bit flamboyant, so what? This isn't an English Lit course, it's a fucking mailbag! Let me assure you that your contribution is appreciated and valuable. If you'd rather I'd NOT publish, you have a week and a half to let me know.
Date: Jul 24 1996 3:09 AM EDT
From one SF Richmond District boy to another- I love your page.
I know you're "abroad", "across the pond", etc. but I've had this idea
stewing in my head and gotta get it out. Regarding funding Rex: Can you get
the boys to agree to contribute a small portion of royalties to Rex. For
instance the Reggae album must pay a little. Undoubtedly others will do
Dead tunes and 10% of those monies could do nicely for Rex.
I just put my little 2 year old boy to sleep by singing Standing on the
Moon...lovely view of Heaven...
Such great memories. Pure joy. I keep your eulogy with me in my wallet.
Says it all.
True Love, John
Rex needs a much more massive solution than being supported out of the now somewhat limited pockets of the band members. It needs the kind of income only stadium size benefit concerts provide. Basically, it needs the kind of income only the Grateful Dead were able to command in a dwindling concert market. The tithing you recommend would be only a piss in the pot. The band members are already supporting continuing office operations with a portion of their individual incomes, hoping we can make ends meet another couple of months. The route you suggest could only be implemented by escalating merchandising operations even more than has been done. I guess I haven't communicated just how dire our financial straits are. It's merely a matter of staying open at all at this point. In my humble opinion, only a fan base supported major concert tour under Grateful Dead Productions auspices would pull it off. Tremendous financial risk would be involved, and there's little indication that the fans are willing to back us up en masse. And even if they did, it might easily signal a return to the unmanageable concert conditions preceeding the break up. But that doesn't look likely enough at this point to even worry about. You can't pull these things out of a hat. I'll feel lucky if we can even keep some sense of community together among those who value the true legacy of the GD - as much a matter of spirit as of music, though it may be a fool's mission to try and separate the two strands.
Date: Jul 23 1996 11:11 PM EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Kyle Clarke)
To Robert Hunter -
The last idea I heard on what to do w/the future of the GD organization
was creating a store/hangout place in Marin somewhere called "Terrapin
Station". The name sounds a little like "Victoria Station", maybe it
could be turned into a "House of Blues" kind of thing, "Planet Hollywood",
GD theme restaurant. Maybe if that healthfood thing caught on (or would it
be steak!) it could become a spawling chain. Er,... (tongue in cheek)
Anyhow, you're not writing so much about the future of the GD in your
most recent journals.
I saw a "steal your face" sticker on a jeep a few weeks ago, and it
made me wonder what someone in the Dead, specifically you because I've
been reading your journals lately, would think seeing that. Somebody puts
this symbol on their car identifying an ideal. This huge organization,
this entity. This thing with a life of its own. Whereas to you, I guessed
you might sometimes be depressed at seeing something like that - seeing
somebody holding up this shining ideal, whereas for you I imagine it
would just sometimes seem to be your own personal sweat and dreams
that got turned into something that all these people started listening to,
creating something out of it beyond what you put into it.
I enjoyed reading the stuff in your 7/21 journal about being as much a
part of the band as musicians (or not!) I work as a software manual writer
with a team of programmers - I go through some of the same emotions I think!
Even if on a smaller scale. It pisses me off when I'm not taken seriously.
Part of the team - or not? Getting angry and going off in a direction/project
of my own, after something that makes me feel excluded ("ego bruised").
"I suppose I was strong headed and problematic to work with." :) :) :)
The phone call you include in your journal from JG a few days before he
died - it has a distinctly different feeling than the Rolling Stone article
on JG I just read from the most recent issue.
I enjoy reading the stuff on your website. Thanks!
- Kyle Clarke
the plan for the GD center, though still a pipedream, is a little more inviting than the hamburger stand you envision. It will have a stage for small scale live events, which will double as a movie theater for films of live GD performances with ass-kicking sound, for starters. Give us some credit, man!
I've decided not to give two shits and a damn about things like bumper stickers and merchandise overkill. It's out of my hands anyway. You'll notice there's not a lot of lyric content, though. I have a say in that.
Haven't seen the Rolling Stone article, out here in the English countryside, but I presume it sucks. I think they've always been a bit pissed off that we could make it to the top of the heap without their assistance or approval. King makers are like that.
Subj: tools and infinity
Date: Jul 21 1996 3:42 PM EDT
A week or so ago Robt. Hunter wrote:
"What is not divisible is opaque to methodology. But I don't belittle the limits of methodology. What good is a tool without limits? Tools ARE limits."
It seems to me, as I read Husserl, that we inheritors of Phenomenology are in a good position to acknowledge the fictionality of the divisions we understand. In this sense, methodology creates divisibility. And the number of divisibilities equals the number of possible methodologies.
Tools are limits, I agree, because they operate on particular parameters. The scope of any parameter, however, may be infinite.
The questions then become Which divisibilities? Which Parameters? In a relational existence, Heidegger reminds us, we do not make these decisions alone.
Thanks for making the effort to include others in this conversation.
a good and sensible extension of my shoot-from-the-hip remark. Methodology does indeed create divisibility in the framework of relational existence. The trick, then, is to understand the societal relationality of such words as "subconscious," "conscious," and most of the "isms" ... not mistaking the classification for a discrete phenomenon observable outside the boundaries of the definition.
When people ask me what a lyric I wrote "really means" I'm often thrown right up against that uncarved block and forced to say "what it means to you," since it's unlikely (and not particularly desirable) that I could interchange subjectivity with them. If anyone could tell me their particular "meaning" of "meaning" I might have more luck.
Subj: If words were deeds
Date: Jul 21 1996 3:24 PM EDT
From: Perspicuous@msn.com (Ronald Moore)
If I could wet my pen with the ink of ages and manage the weight of it,
awesome as it would surely be, I could then, perhaps, imbue my words with the
emotions that fairly rend ones body in their seeming attempt to escape and
socialize, and in so doing I might finally be fortunate to communicate. And I
would craft a verse for you, Robert, intended to please and refresh, offered
with gratitude for the light you've shown.
But then, if my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle. Who's to say, huh?
You have flattered me with your response to, and mention of, my letter (naked
drumset smashing man). You could knock me over with a feather. Thank you
I'll save all the ass-kissing bits, but I must say how much I enjoy your work,
which is complete and joyfully!!!!
How wonderful this technology is that we hold between us. Allowing the
immediate release which, I realize, has been denied you in the past. My wife
works in the publishing biz. Medical books, dry as a popcorn fart. Endless
boring stories of write, rewrite, edit...it just grinds on for years!! Now get
cracking on "Glass Lunch" you damn author you (ever notice how Author/Poet
seem like pornography when mouthed by a book bureaucrat?).
One thing is for sure Robert, if balls were music, you'd be a brass band.
Good Luck finding Ffordd Cross!!!
Date: Jul 22 1996 3:30 PM EDT
From: email@example.com (David Dodd)
It's getting awfully close to one year. Reading your latest journal
entries just now was a privilege--you are sharing so much of yourself
here; I think it's admirable, courageous, poignant, and fascinating all
at once. Thank you.
I went to Fiddler's Green (!) in Denver for the Furthur Festival on
Saturday, and had an interesting time. Volunteered at the CyberTent for
the WELL, got a backstage pass through the good graces of Fred Lieberman,
only to find that it didn't really get me backstage. Found Dennis McNally
and dropped off two recent drafts of my bibliography with him. LOVED
Mystery Box. Wow. The other acts didn't hit me as favorably, but it was a
very long, hot day...
Good luck finding the cross.
Fiddler's green in Denver was unknown to me, I must admit. In the Lennon section of "Down the Road" I was speaking of the mythic place drowned sailors go. Funny how actual stuff insists on intersecting with my work. Bit creepy, really. I'd sure like to hear Mystery Box at this point of the tour, but it's not to be.
Subj: well, Hello!!
Date: Jul 24 1996 6:14 PM EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bill Kessler)
Another E (among the thousands, I'd guess) to just say thanks for all
the years of joy and insight you've provided.
Through a particularly tough year (and in countless times past, as well)
your prose and poetry have served to put me back on some sort of beam
when things seem all bent and dark. As the years combine into decades,
you have helped me keep my dreams alive in an ever increasingly violent
and nasty world--so far afield from the original vision.
It's a privelege to communicate to you--something I've desired to do for
30 some odd years.
Peace--and again THANKS
fortunately not thousands or there'd be no way to answer. But enough to provide a regular part time job. I answer nine out of ten, print about ten percent, and get four or five a week returned undeliverable. Mostly it's folks wanting to touch in and say "keep up the good work, we appreciate it." Once in awhile someone wants to know why I'm not on the same wave length they are as regards one mindset or another. I've found there's never a satisfactory answer to that, short of conversion. There's a smattering of people wanting to know the literal meaning of one lyric or another. A healthy dose of "There'll never be another Jerry" which I can only agree with - and quite a few "There'll never be another Jerry so why bother?" with which I take emphatic exception. I've been mistaken for Dear Abby, Nostradamus, the head of merchandising, Bodhidharma, Gabby Hayes, Robin Hood and the Wizard of Oz. But most often I hear from people like you who just want to say a hello and get one back. So: Hello, Bill! And thanks for the kind estimation in which you hold my attempts to communicate some kind of hope, if it's only in our own community, during this trying year.
Date: Jul 25 1996 12:36 AM EDT
From: email@example.com (Charles E. Bass)
After reading through a number of Mailbags posted at your web site, I
finally decided that it was time to contribute a thought and a question.
Between your evocative, thoughtful lyrics and Jerry's powerful melodies,
I have aphorisms and meditations a-plenty to help me through my days and
in my life. For that, thank you, thank you, thank you.
I sat down the other day and figured out the chord changes to Mission in
the Rain. My wife (who is not a deadhead) especially likes that song.
Maybe it is because we live in San Francisco and there is a reference to
the Mission. When I play it she always starts dancing.
Robert, if you would, please tell me what you were thinking when you
penned the phrase "box of rain." What, for you, does a box of rain
represent. I am not asking for the meaning of the song, or for you to
explain the song to me -- I spent plenty of time on my own doing that.
I am just terribly curious how you came to choose that image.
Well, I won't take any more bandwith. There is much I would like to say,
but I've said it in my mind for so long now, it feels funny and
self-conscious trying to put onto "paper."
well, I don't like to do this, since it encourages others to ask about what I had in mind when I wrote a song, and mostly you'd need to have my mind to understand even approximately what I had in it. By "box of rain," I meant the world we live on, but "ball" of rain didn't have the right ring to my ear, so box it became, and I don't know who put it there.
Subj: Re: 7/25
Date: Jul 25 1996 11:26 AM EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Charles E. Bass)
I understand your trepidations with questions such as mine, and I most
sincerely thank you for answering it. Rest assured, I have no further
questions or requests of that ilk.
Pretty amazing, the connectedness the world now has through the
internet, isn't it? That I can posit a question or thought, or just send
a message anywhere in the world where an email account exists seems
pretty immediate and connected to me. I wanted to ask that question for
years, and then in a period of a few hours, it is asked and answered.
I never would have made the connection between box of rain and the
world. I am not a literalist (unlike my wife who always replies, "I
never said THAT," when I read between the lines of what she
actually said). It is a true testament to your talent that the words you
wrote so many years ago are still fresh and provocative. I personally
believe it is because they are not "set." That is, there may or may not
be a story told, but you take nature images and conjoin them with either
another nature image or an observation. So, even your story songs (such
as Jack Straw, Wharf Rat, Black Peter, or Terrapin Station) are not so
much about the story line itself as the imagery or feeling behind
Anyway, it is a typical summer morning here in San Francisco. The fog
rolled in overnight. I can normally look out my window on Russian Hill
across to Coit Tower, the bay towards Richmond, Downtown and the Bay
Bridge, and Nob Hill. Not this morning though.
that sounds like a pretty fair, if complimentary, estimation of where I'm coming form. Reading between the lines is invited, though insistance on what's so read is not.
Date: Jul 24 1996 8:53 PM EDT
Subj: Today in Utah is a trippy Mormon holiday called Pioneer days
Greetings from across the Great Salt Lake and other major bodies of water -- oceans vanish in my house now -- Mr. Hunter I hope I'm not bogging down the archive and your personal virtual space with e-mails -- I appreciate your thoughtful responses -- I have not read either of the authors you recommended but I will add them to my list -- I loaded up a full Visa of books at the workshop -- grin -- I'm wondering, is "Poetry Flash" an internet site or a real text -- I'll do a search and find out myself. . .
I was at the Further show in Park City at the Wolf Mtn. venue on Monday -- fine and wonderful -- I was stunned by the quality and diversity of the music -- heaps of artists -- in Mickey's new band the women who sing act as yet another instrument, of their own unique character -- Rat Dog played a shiverin slitherin smokin Fever -- and Bruce Hornsby, what a performer, he really knows how to play with a crowd, mighty talented -- I am so pleased that I was able to enjoy the joy -- there were a couple of blues and a folk players that told wonderful stories and legends in thier songs -- ah --
you know what I mean. I have used your poems songs stories in classes as lessons --
Are you involved in the Olympic hoopla at all in England? The power of heart and spirit and bone and pull always seem to suck me in --
I hope that this finds you well -- the show on Monday inspired me to be sure that I write a haiku about glitter, as an excercise (you know how some crowds shine) -- maybe you'd like to do so as well, on a walk or a hike -- I dug the photos you posted of the roads you're traveling -- best to you, best gentleman storyteller --
Making a small world smaller. . .
gleam where light
and eye meet.
In a moment: shadow
Date: Sat, 20 Jul 1996 11:11:21 -0700
From: "Mark F. Marchese" <email@example.com>
WARNING! To those who read this tale: Nothing that follows is gramically
correct or even spelled right. Either is life, Who cares it is just the
muddled memories of a story that has taken on it's own energy and
refuses to find an end to itself. Enjoy!
Well now it seems like a very long time ago, not quite so long in the
realm of the multi-dimensional we have come to call home. A group of
friends had been traveling amd working the fields and orchards of the
western U.S. We departed the fruit trees of Washington State for the
field crops of California. A chance (Ha!) aquaintance on the shores
of Lake Chelan had given me the tapes from Great American Music Hall in
'75. It was now the fall of '76. We had been working for 3 days in Santa
Maria Ca. picking dried California red peppers (26 cents a basket) Hot
little bastards! Rule: never touch your eyes or genitals in your sleep.
The GAMH tape rested quietly on the dash of the '63 purple school bus as
our intrepid time travellers lounged outside and I prepared a meal of
fried potato and handmade flour tortillas, as we finished the last of 3
32 cent quarts of Bohemia beer. Alan popped the tape into the deck.
Something began to take control of the energy and we decided to blow
into town for some dancing and more suds. An old friend of mine Lil'
Bro, was playing that night in San Luis Obisbo so we decided a little
vitamin "Q" was in order. We miraculously found the location without
incident and danced hugged and got kisses from all the beautiful local
maidens. All the while the band played on with it's versions of Dead
tunes, Scarlet/Fire, Eyes, Goin Down the Road. We dropped again around
1:00 am and as the festivities wound down the Fire under our ass was
definitely Goin' Down the Road. We were headin for Arizona and to hell
with our last paycheck. We were blowin' across the desert at 80 mph in a
purple school bus invisible to all who could not match the vibrational
frequencies we had set. Great American Music Hall was making the loop
in the deck (max. Volume). I was full blown in my Cowboy Neal persona
and became very aware of the 6 horses pulling my conestoga wagon. As the
team charged thru the desert night the highway we passed over
disintegrated behind us it was returned to the wagon road of the past
with tumble weeds and cactus bending to the speed of our will.
Franklin's Tower was roaring in my ears, Roll Away, Roll Away the
......... a blood red sunrise was forming over the Salton Sea and a
tumbleweed came to rest on the windshield, Roll Away, Roll Away
the...... as focus returned to this dimension It was a squashed bug and
the road returned to the Highway of the present. The sunrise was in full
splendor and the band kept playin' on Roll Away, Roll Away the..... the
message was clear and loud. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun so
we kept on Rollin', Roll Away, Roll Away the.... Dew As you may have
noticed this sentence may never end and that is quite true, it's still
writing itself and is equipped with it's own text editor, the events
that followed eventually ended up in Tucson where I met my future wife
and 5 children and logged numorous more starship miles up and down and
Around and Around the U.S. and Mexico..... tho this story has yet to be
told the teller has been paid in the golden road of the living story
itself. May the four winds blow you safely home, Roll Away, Roll Away
the Dew..........................kommander kory
Date: Sun, 21 Jul 1996 21:53:52 +0100
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Barbara Saunders)
> I sometimes think the only difference between me and a depressive
> hinges on the focused use, in writing or in music, of the creative
> potential I've been gifted with. Too much extraneous use of my energy
> begins tying me in knots. I make bold propositions which often startle
> and are rarely implemented.
rh - that doesn't sound much different than depression to this depressive
creative! I find its nearly impossible to tell the difference between the
two until the finished "product" emerges.
I'm glad for you that you've got time to do your thing over there!
> Business is the art of the compromise. I find it hard to compromise
> when the path through the shit seems so obvious.
Amen. Dollars and cents I understand (somewhat). The weird culture that
surrounds them baffles me.
> How do I know it's the path? It kind of shines.
I know just what you mean. The path does "shine." Always, however faintly. Un-
fortunately choosing the "practical" route over the "shining" one seems to be
what "responsible" people are expected to do.
(on the late Miles Davis)
> I was able to listen past that and get back to what it is: the music,
> the true tone,
> But one day, sometime, if not soon, the music will break free of the
> funereal trappings our knowledge imposes on it and communicate its
> joy without the deep shades of sorrow we now hear overlaid.
This bit reminds me of something I read in a Tikkun article about
gravestones. The author suggested that the spiritual gifts contained in a
person become clearer when the person dies, as the filter of that
individual's personality gradually ceases to block their view...
thanks for the precis of my 7/21 journal and comments. As the first full year AG swings round, my thoughts and those of many others dip somewhat into "anniversery blues". We count our losses, consider our gains, and wait for the wheel to turn again.
Date: Mon, 8 Jul 1996 09:18:10 -0700
From: email@example.com (KEN WHELAN)
Dear Mr. Hunter,
I finally discovered the deadnet and have just finished reading your
archive page (the best thing about the site thus far). Thank you,
Hunter, not only for your committment to the sight but to your years of
creativity within the Grateful Dead framework. I've often wondered how
famous people really feel inside when someone thanks them for doing
what they do. Does it really register? I wouldn't thank everyone's work
I've just "enjoyed", only those who's work or art or force have
influenced me or altered my life in some way. Martin Scorsese is one.
Taxi Driver was the first film I saw in the movies without my parents.
I think I saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on Saturday and on
Sunday I snuck into the theatre with Tom Simmons and caught Taxi.
Changed my life. His Mean Streets also had a similar effect as it was
the first film I saw on the new "cable T.V.". And then of course Raging
Bull in 1980. I saw it with my crew (street corner guys in Astoria
Queens). It blew me away. This girl I was trying to get to date finally
agreed to go out with me and our first date was to a movie I described
to her as the greatest film of all time. I never saw her again after
that. (I guess it was a bit much for the ladies).
John Ford would have been another person I would have thanked. His
influence was more gradual, spanning my whole life of watching movies
on the tube. It was in his movies that I learned about male codes of
honor, loyalty, duty and things that I didn't understand at the time
like individuality (vs. society) and sacrificing that for the greater
good of that society.
Elvis and the Beatles came next as major catalysts for my young
mind, bending it just a bit. I thank them in my head everytime I listen
to one of their tunes.
And then came The Grateful Dead. I don't need to explain the
explosive jolt to my psyche the first time I attended a show. September
2, 1978, just before Egypt. I had only gotten into Live Dead and
Terrapin up to then. It was okay, but nothing could match the Beatles
or Led Zeppelin. But there I was in Giants Stadium, tripping my face
off while the crowd began chanting "Grateful Dead" over and over. In my
reeling 17 year old mind I said "there must be something to this
Grateful Dead business". It was at that moment that the band came on
and blew me away for want of a better cliche. That was it. I was on the
bus in a big way. I'm sure you've heard similar stories and
testimonials before. So I won't bore you with my own private memories.
But I will tell you this, I didn't realise you exsisted until some time
later. I thought the whole show was Jerry and Bob. A word about Jerry.
The news of his death effected like no other famous person's death has
ever hit me. No other prominant figure has ever held the place that
Garcia did in my life. Not Elvis, Lennon, Deniro, Brando, no one.
Because Jerry wasn't just the guitarist for my faveorite band. He was
and is a state of mind. Jerry represented and still does(as do your
lyrics) adventure, fun, folklore, danger, experimentation, cosmic
jokes, trickery and possibility. With his demise, I knew I would never
be in the same place at the same time with him, listening to that
fantastic sound he created. But as you said very eloquently, the better
part of him was the music, and the music lives on. Yes and no. The
music does live on in tape, but the better part of him was his spirit
which lives on in everyone he touched, through the music or personally.
I envy you having known him, but I envied him having known you, also.
I once heard that magic is being able to change "states". Physically,
emotionally or whatever. The Dead did that for me. If I flipped the
dial and came across a Dead song, boom, immediate state change. A round
of high fives! And this comes to my point about you, Hunter. Thank you
for creating many of those state changes- magic. Your words and
collaboration with those wonderful musicians have, like John Ford,
enriched my life slowly over the years and like Scorsese provide me
with a quantom leap in that explosive moment when I first got on the
bus (and all sunsequent times the bus lurched foward). I cherish the
songs you've written, like Black Muddy River which I know you wrote for
Jerry when you thought he wasn't going to survive the coma. Stella Blue
inspired a poem of my own-
The rows of houses all look the same
And years wash away gradually like paint does in the rain
Slowly but surely it all comes together
And empties out into the pool of forever
and if you look closely, you'll catch a glimpse of tommorrow
it's just beyond the skyline on the west side of sorrow
A minor effort indeed. I just wanted you to know (as I think I would if
and when I make it in show-biz) that your efforts influenced some
schlub out there to create. God bless you, Hunter, and keep up the good
work. By the way I loved Cupful Of Rain.
Yours Truly from the Heart Of Brooklyn,
your letter fell down the cracks in my filing system - which will happen with stuff sent to DeadNet while I'm in England. I hardly ever check that mail, having asked everyone to use the aol address since it's just a local call, rather than a transcontinental, to pick up my mail. That said, thank you for an absolute feast of a letter and a thoughtful lyric. I've had much less flattering comparisonsthan yours stacking me up against John Ford! Best to everyone in Brooklyn.
Subj: Thanks and tales
Date: Jul 26 1996 10:58 AM EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Andy Dorfmann)
I hope you are enjoying yourself in merry old England (you seem to be).
Before I tell you my tale from the strange, I want to throw some kudos
in your direction for the gifts you have given us over the years with
your words. I know you have heard it before, but those of us who have
'heard' you over the years know that you don't get the credit you so
richly deserve for your talents. As many others with me, your carefully
crafted phrases find their way into my consious and subconscious mind
and have helped me both to enjoy the bounties that life has to offer as
well as the ability to cope with the darkness that none of us can
escape. Secondly, I must say that your archives are evolving into one of
the most entertaining and LITERATE corners of the web. IMO about 90% of
the web is bullshit (OK maybe thats overstatement, but you know what I
mean). Either it's a new medium for advertising or a cheap way for
people to publish words that really should remain unpublished. OTOH, if
one looks hard he can find some real jewels in there, your efforts
becoming one of the best. Please continue if you can. I really love your
"Visions of the Dead". That was entertaining. It sure would be fun to
see that as an animated film. Are there enough of us to support that
project? Thirdly, some thoughts on the Futhur Fest. I saw one show in
northern VA near my home. It was a beautiful day and a blast for me. I
saw my first Dead show in 1976 and have been captivated ever since. But
I must admit that the scene at the shows had become more of a circus
than I could tolerate in the past few years. You know better than I, but
I guess I can see where some of what seemed to be troubling our fallen
brother came from (sheesh I still can't even write down his name in the
same sentence with the word Death). Anyway, 2 comments, 1) Mystery Box
was the biggest breath of fresh air there (though I enjoyed ALL the
music). Maybe we CAN depend on the beat of distant drums. It was nice to
hear your words again. I think you and Mickey may be on to something.
2)The atmosphere struck me as more like those 70s shows I remember. Not
quite as much hype. Just good vibes and good music. Kind of more laid
back. Maybe there will be magic again, who knows. It will take time. At
the end of the show when many of the musicians were jamming, things hit
a very high level. Anyway, we should all keep IT going in anyway we can,
shows, vault releases, taping, web sites and the like.
Now for my tale.
(go to the Library of the Uncanny for Andy's amazing tale. rh)
Thanks again for your efforts. At least for this guy, they are bearing
ripe and delicious fruit. One last thought. In the last mailbox, someone
asked about oxymorons, (a favorite subject of mine). Loved your answer!
How about one of my favorites: Live Dead.
you're welcome to my efforts and thanks for yours. That's one hell of an experience! Right to the Library with it!
Glad you saw the Further effort for what's there, not what isn't. I too found the lack of craziness in the crowd (at Laguna Seca) to be comforting and a hopeful sign for the future. It's a beginning. We're on the first step of a whole new staircase. This time let's climb it consciously and understand the important individual parts we play in making it what it is and can be.
(note to readers: the Library of the Uncanny has had a recent growth spurt. If you haven't been checking it out, it must be because you're chicken!)
Subj: Terrapin Station Suite
Date: Jul 27 1996 9:48 PM EDT
From: SBC@worldnet.att.net (JZMC)
Robert(Mr. Hunter?)-Wouldn't that be an incredible thing if this
actually worked! My friend and i were reading terrapin in Box of Rain
while we were at the beach and we got a little confused with all the
characters and all. we were good up to At a Siding, but after we just
got all messed up. if you please, explain the rest of the saga...
By the way- i'm sure you get this all the time, but we just wanted to
thank you for all the incredible songs!
have you heard of the myth of Sisyphus? He is condemned to forever roll a heavy stone to the top of a mountain and just before he gets it to the peak, the damned thing rolls down to the bottom again and he has to start all over. Explaining my work, or explaining why I don't explain my work, is a bit like that. I give my reasons, which you can find many places throughout the mailbag, the journals - there's even an essay - but I will tell you one thing about figuring out the Terrapin Suite: there are sub-plots but no overall plot, although there is a motif - circularity and eternal recurrence of persons and situations.
I don't know which version you're reading. The version in the hardbound edition got so tangled, I rewrote the new sections (in the paperback edition and somewhere on this site labeled TSNV, darned if I know where) nearly from scratch. Did it clarify anything? I can't say. Apparently not, if that's the version you're reading.
With a great deal of my work, there is more to be found in individual lines, verses and sections than by trying to grasp the general direction of a work as a whole. I tend to create episodically, bringing together elements in a way I hope is catalytic rather than cumulative. Elements often point towards, indicate, rather than circumscribe. If the egg hatches and a horse jumps out, I've done my work. You may not see the horse, but you may notice a cloud of dust and a distant "Hi Yo Silver!"
Well, I'm probably digging myself into a hole here. That often happens when I try to generalize about my work process, which tends to be intuitive and allow for, if not depend upon, the flash of perception much more than it struggles toward predetermined ends. I don't hold one component higher than the others, though those who question me about lyrics tend to focus exclusively on matters of meaning rather than of rhyme, texture or rhythmic flow. A satisfying structure depends on the coherent inter-relationship of all parts, not the pay off value of some particular hook. Wine on the ice-cream? Meat for dessert? Lose my phone number! Meaning? Balance of components is meaning! Meaning is generated, not "said."
Subj: Re: Pragmatism & Truth (in capital letters)
Date: Jul 27 1996 4:13 PM EDT
Sorry for remaining quiet for so long. I and my "pragmatic
barometer" (a woman I'm married to) enjoyed your inspiring and hopeful
message - even more than joy, it touched on the beautiful.
Which leads to endless discussion, so I will make brief points
which may point to action. Let us see.
Plato, according to Bertrand Russell, corrupted his philosophy by
aiming it toward virtue, or civic effectiveness - a sort of teleology which
led science up a blind alley for the entire course of the middle ages. Yet
pursuing truth leads us to choose that aspect which is virtuous and joyful
or that which is painful - sex as mutual worship or mutual agony could be
But teleology corrupts - experience only teaches; these are
aphorisms which we might want to keep in mind, if we conclude that we are
stuck with the harsh light of truth; it may be better to ride on the
razor's edge all the way to the "top", to it's ultimate spiralled "closing"
that will finally give resolution.
For instance, we are immersed in the need for drama. The forward
logic of this need leads to every sort of chaos, violence, cruelty... all
of which builds an addiction for more. We have learned to step back, yet
we have not yet become gentle gods. Perhaps only the ultimate violence
would make a change, but it would certainly ruin our better natures...
(thus pragmatism becomes truth...) but what about a middle way?
Could we make a story that would change the world? Could we learn
the lessons of utter destruction by simply watching it? In other words,
can we break the world's heart?
I suggest that glory resides in being two things at once, both the
one and the many, both the pleasurable and painful, both the being and not
being, yet with the purpose of fulfilling the third dimension, the fullness
of life itself. The perfect reflection, the perfect giving.
The eye gazing into wonder.
And glory is the fuel we need. Robert, if we are to do this, we
need glory - G L O R Y. We need lots of it, buckets and mountains full.
We need to mesmerize the world. I realize I haven't received your approval
on this theory (that this story-telling process is our only hope) but I
will continue anyway.
Think of Caesar. Einstein. Think of running the political world
with a physical theory.
This is my Mirror Show. I'm running it around Hollywood now, just
bouncing it off the surface (in NY and LA), a hopelessly helpless
non-player contending he owns the key to the future - a crackpot - but when
the idiot is seen to be wise, what a legend he becomes. And every idiot
prays for that chance, every wise man must take it.
It is the bravest show a man can make. It is a man contending he
is God. What an idiot a man must be to do that!
IN THE MEANTIME, another little group will start small, to raise
it's ugly fist when it is too big to oppose, only to open it with a smile.
This is INVIOLATE, a non-profit group with the purpose of releasing all the
drug prisoners (along with all the other consensual prisoners) by the year
2000. Why the hurry? Because they're in PRISON.
These two will meld. In fact, the Mirror Show is only the
wide-release (commercialized) version of the Deluxe Magick Mirror Show,
which will begin in one specific location and make that location a temple
of drugs. And then move to another. You can see the potential for
real-world drama, for taking an audience on a ride with very real
consequences, then projecting that ride into the future with a continuing
story-line and SEEING WHERE IT GOES.
Thus we make the world a movie. And what is truth? What we make
it? Do we pretend we are in a void, a vacuum of pre-determined reality,
and simply hunt it out, or do we assume the ability to create?
With enough sound rest, with an invigorated mind, with energy
tapped and waiting, I implore that we inhale and jump. That we not follow
history, but crack it. Why? And why not? To do so because it is good?
What is good? Is continuation better than a grand and final exit? Not
according to drama, at least not necessarily. To not do so because we
Oh, should we fear, should fear take us, let us snicker. Remember
the moment when you knew it all, the moment of sly looks.
Robert, the penumbra is probably better. It is the place of the
monk. I do not contend against it, I have wanted to be there all my life.
But something drags me, when I live among lesser lights that have never
ceased to extinguish mine, who have left not a single moment of my life
undimmed, to be the first man in Rome. To vanquish the enemy, and myself,
and laugh over the popcorn. I have found a way to do it. I will continue
doing until it is done. Which is now, impudence and foolishness being the
end and beginning of the show, it is never capable of being impudent or
foolish, never capable of failure. It will, at some point, light off like
a mirror catching the sun.
So tell me, how interested are you in the "inviolate" organization?
Do you think we can do it? I think so, because I plan on influencing
events from now until then. And I think it is the place where the
hip-hoppest, the new Sophists and true brightest can gather. A virtual
virtue. I would certainly be honored (and this is such bullshit - I would
jump like a little kid with a popsicle) if you were to show interest. I'm
nobody, at the bottom, ignorant enough to say this world is mine. Like a
child (unaware, perhaps, of the Mack truck, or the unreality of his
you overestimate the capacity of the world to react in a consistent, direct way over any but basic, instinctive purposes. No ideal has ever mobilized mankind except under force. This isn't pessimism, just fact. You would need to enforce the Magick Mirror show to be the first in Rome. Or to be first in the provinces, for that matter. Such ambitions are Messianic.
No man is God, though mankind may be. I doubt it. The ants and the trees and the flying swamps of Venus are probably involved in that presentation too. Presentation is probably the wrong word since it infers an audience for the presentation. You can't have it both ways, gh. I think we're probably just as well off not dragging a loose definition of the Almighty into the proposed scheme in order to educate the world toward tragedy avoidance by means of virtual reality. Absolutes have a way of declining metaphor. If you don't catch my drift, think how hard your own drift must be to catch!
It seems to me you must act alone to realize your plan, since we figments of your imagination can hardly be expected to demonstrate true volition. For example, how could I be telling you this without your implicit authorization? Another concept you might as well scrap is that of 'truth,' teleological, eschatological, ontological, a priori, empirical, pragmatic or otherwise. If truth were definable there'd be no question about what it is - and there is plenty of question, unless you wish to limit the discourse by deciding "truth is what I say it is and amenable to verbal construct" in which case I can't argue with you, only point you to the inhuman immensity of the stormy seas of planet Neptune with their 1,000 mph winds and ask "can you conceive this?" I can't. It shuts my sense of scope up like a folding chair and there's nowhere to sit. And it's tiny compared to what happens on a star. But I don't mean to throw numbers at you, since you're aware that the neurons in your brain provide a more complex and ultimately more awesome set of circumstances than a black hole or the Russian economy.
So, what I think you're proposing would realistically work best as a fiction, something which might get a few people thinking, as much entertainment as instruction. In the frustration of not being able to do anything at all that seems to make a difference, grandiose plots are hatched, which also come to nothing. Or, worse yet, DO come to something with the aid of enforcement. Cruelty is ever the tool of the enforcement.
Plato showed what virtue isn't, through dialectic - and thought he showed what reality isn't, through the allegory of the cave. More likely, he showed what it is: shadows on a wall. His "Republic" is a collectivist nightmare. We'd be better off if Epictetus, with his fine formulas for dealing with customary life, had dominated philosophy. And don't forget that Kant's masterpiece was a *critique* of pure reason, not a defense. It shows the hall of mirrors sans object. A nice angle, but unviewable since, were you to stick your head in there to get a glimpse: bingo!...infinite heads.
OK, enough for this installment of the eternal argument. I got to late night raving here and probably sidestepped your intention entirely, if not your tone. Regards to your "pragmatic barometer."
Subj: ONE OF THE BAND
Date: Jul 28 1996 8:39 PM EDT
From: email@example.com (John Kiely)
Thanks for the nice words about my lyric, you made my day. I'm proud of the song.
My sentiment about you being as much a part of the band as Jerry or Phil was not meant as a well meaning or patronizing comment. What I meant was that your lyrics are as important a part of MY Grateful Dead experience as the contributions of the other band members. I don't hear Robert Hunter when I hear your lyrics. I hear Grateful Dead, because your lyrical sensibilities are integral to what makes the Grateful Dead what it is. That is my point.
I appreciate your sentiments, but let me clarify a few things.
For what difference any of it makes at this point, I am not, nor was I, a member of the Grateful Dead band. I've been in quite a few bands and I know the difference. Band members are people who play instruments in a band. They form quite an exclusive camaraderie, and even if they honor someone (such as a writer, a producer, or a roady,with the title of a non-playing member, it is an honor only and not a fact. My lyrics were a part of the Grateful Dead experience, certainly, and had whatever value they had in that context: my work, not my person. It was hard to come to that conclusion since so much attention and stroking is directed at performers. Who wouldn't want a taste of that? A heady and dangerous wine. It is a different quality of attention than is shown to non-performing members. Once a song is written, anybody can perform it. Does that make me a member of all the Dead cover bands? "In spirit" is not the same as "in the flesh."
Now as to being a member of the Grateful Dead, in a less exclusive sense than as a "band member" - most certainly I was and am, and take great pride in it. The management and the band members may or may not agree, but I'm not asking anyone for a definition of who I am in what context, nor the leave to be it. I am not an employee. I just do the thing I'm given on Earth to do at this particular time. When you let other people define who you are, you give them the chance to steal your face right off your head. I just steal it back. It fits my skull good.
Date: Jul 23 1996 9:07 AM EDT
Dear Mr. Hunter,
My first letter was an attempt to be lyrical and interesting ; an ice breaker if you will. My name is Greg Johnson and I'd like to tell you a bit of the secret life that I have had with Jerry and the band . I read the article in rolling stone by Greenfield and thought it was cheesy. I read the book by Rock and thought it was self serving , and the epitaph that these stories relate do not show or enlighten what the man was about.
I am not going to buy or read greenfields book it seems like laundry to me. Interesting though was Phil's quote that was fished out of Mcintire about hating Garcia at first. It reminded me of the fear I felt at a 1979 Cape Cod Coliseum show.
I was dragged to the concert by my h. s. friend Keith who came in from Alfred university, we were sophomores I was at U Mass.I went to my first three concerts in 1978-- Meadowlands in Sept, Springfield during winter break and of course Spring Concert at Umass Patty Smith /Dead .Kieth was gone on the Dead, it was his religion.All the music he listened to had to be Dead , JGB or Hot Tuna. I on the other hand was wrestling partying and having trippy born again Christian experiences, listening in tongues I'll call it for lack of better terms. Anyway we're on the floor 20 yards from the stage two hits of this brown acid and a half a qualude and I'm wondering about this hold Garcia has on my friend Kieth.Is this good or is Garcia sent from hell to deceive many, that the band were actually dead creatures and who the hell did he think he was !? ! Jerry and I are staring at each other . Two bulls in a china shop. At this point Kieth nudges me and shoot's me a look to lighten up with a smile . But I'm still zeroed in on Jerry, finally I realize he's just playing music nothing left to do but smile.He smiles too. They were in the middle of "coming around clowning coming around " left a crater where my mind used to be. That was my first bus ride.Dancing in the street danced and relaxed my soul searching nature and had fun.
Anyway it was the beginning of a relationship rooted in understanding,sourced through synchronicity and played truthfully from the heart.
It's late, Until next time,
P.S. It would be a thrill to 'speak' live with you
right. Just playing music. Damn near nobody in the music business can understand that one. It's supposed to be about something else. A guy who just stand up there and plays is a bit of an enigma. People can read all kinds of stuff into it. It's like a mirror, or an ink blot test. Maybe you needed to get that high just to see what it was.
(by the way - your email address is not functioning for return mail)
Date: Jul 28 1996 2:45 AM EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Gail Edwards)
Tonight was my first visit to your Web site. I visited the journal link.
This part really made me laugh. (I'm still laughing.)
I remember once, around 1970, reading through a book of old folklore
and finding a striking passage which I read aloud to Garcia, without
thinking:"The man missing the middle finger of his right hand/
is doomed to walk between Hell and Heaven forever/ neither saved nor damned." He looked up grimly and said "I suspected as much." I immediately regretted having read it aloud. Real nice of me.
This was a good one too:
Today's solutions become tomorrow's problems. Tomorrow's solutions
become yesterday's problems. Yesterday becomes tomorrow's solution. Solution is an unstable state. Don't try to solve anything, just slap a band-aid on
it and wait for tomorrow to discover that that wasn't the problem anyway,
Because I've been thinking about this myself lately.
I like this next thought. I have been doing some memory work, trying to
dredge up stuff from 20 years ago. I'd expected once I nailed a few
relevant facts down, the memories would come gushing forth. But no, it's
like you said, sort of iterative. Told a friend it was a bit like putting
together a puzzle, a piece here, a piece there, and bit by bit a picture
begins to take shape. Also a bit like slowly focusing the lens of a camera.
RH: I sketch what I can remember, then keep coming back and filling
in the holes. It all comes back eventually.
Anyway, I really dig the Web site, and I'm glad you're keeping it up!
well, like the journal is, you know, where I get a chance to cut loose and blow. Glad you're digging it.
Subj: Box of Rain
Date: Jul 26 1996 7:58 AM EDT
From: email@example.com (David Armstrong)
Dear Mr Hunter
I hope you don't think this is a stupid question, but...
In your song "Box of Rain" are you referring to the psychosomatic
experience whereby a small cloud appears in the air and grey spikes
emanating from the cloud are picked up at the base of the digits
and in a circle on the crown of the head, beginning a process whose
upshot is that you feel as if you have been turned inside-out to
become a cleansed, enlightened person at harmony with the world?
If so, perhaps you would be so good as to contact me, since I am
seeking to trace the phenomenon from pre-Christian cultures through
early Gnostic sources and the experiences of medieval saints, up to
the present day.
Many thanks for your co-operation.
your use of the word "psychosomatic" is interesting in the context of mystical experience. Certainly not inappropriate, but obviously redolent of the laboratory. I remember taking part in the Army MK-Ultra experiments in 1961 where LSD, Mescaline & Psilocybin were classified as "psychotomimetic" drugs. I wonder how much expectation transforms catagorization of experience in these contexts? Box of Rain was written in a mere muse-based enthusiastic artistic state, tinged with melancholy, rather than a psychedelic or mystical state, so I can't be of much help to you. Best of luck in your research.
Subj: a moment of your time?
Date: Jul 30 1996 2:14 PM EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Kristofor Schuett)
dear god, i had no idea.
i was (i thought) dealing with the loss in a constructive, nurturing way, continuing to hold on to the essence of what i felt our family was meant to be. jg was seemingly doing the same, holding on the good stuff of life, mere days away from his death. excited about creating and living, feeling it was good to be back in the "life" of life.
but what happened to sway him, between the time he spoke to you and when he checked in to that other rehab facility, from all the positive aspects of being who he was and to continue back down the path he had just recent climbed? or did he just feel that his journey back to life wasn't quite completed yet? we were all told that the fact he died while trying to heal himself was a testament to his life yet to know that he had just been in rehab, seemingly lost that zeal he regained only 3-4 days before...
i'm prattling. sorry. i'm also grieving, reliving, and remembering how angry i was when he died and didn't know where to direct it.
i'm not really asking for answers, more venting than questioning. he was no god or saint, but he did know how to tap into your soul, turn that very private key, that one you normally reserve only for family and dear friends, and let your happiness (and anger i'm sure) flow freely.
so much to say and no words to give the feelings life. frustration
abounds, i can't think clearly enough to speak. thanks for listening.
ps - this archive is both a joy and a pain. the closer you bring us all to this inner world, the more you share of its highs and lows, the more refined and at the same time scattered and diffuse, its image becomes. thank you for the archive's poignant demeanor. it has taken on a life of its own through your words.
Jerry had a very bad heart. The stress of kicking was too much for it. He left Betty Ford weeks too early. In music, his timing was perfect. Not so in life.
Bringing you some of the day to day reality of this scene is the only way to explain it. To demystify it so that it's lessons can be learned and, hopefully, we can proceed on a truer footing. The lessons are very human ones, as was the music.
Date: Jul 31 1996 6:22 AM EDT
Answer to a letter marked 'personal"
those blues won't last forever but If you've got any depth you've got to feel them sometimes, or keep your eyes shut. The music of the 60's & 70's performed a function new music doesn't perform. It's unhip. Blame the charts, blame the times, blame MTV - I don't know. Now it's time to create your own way of looking at things, using the best of what you know. Have a little confidence.
The "literary" quality of the mailbag isn't meant to overwhelm. There's room for all kinds of ways of thinking to be expressed here. I just dislike the anti-intellectual tenor of the times, so I make a point of accomodating that too.
Date: Jul 31 1996 4:56 PM EDT
I checked the web page everyday for a while when I first learned of its creation only to find that it was still under construction. Months later, I thought I would see how it was doing and was surprised to see your journal entries. I read them until I got a headache so bad that my eyelashes hurt and saved the rest to read tomorrow. I want to thank you for doing this for us (I think it is safe to assume that you enjoy it as well). Having a glimpse into the life of someone that we hold so dearly in our hearts (even though most of us "know" you only through your writings and interviews) is a great opporitunity for us to see you as the human being you are. When I read interviews and articles about you, I always get the feeling that being in the spotlight and being viewed as some super human guru makes you feel uncomfortable--which is understandable. Certainly all the other band members feel that way (Jerry made that clear in every interview that I know of). This outlet which you have chosen to let fans know more about you and the band is a perfect way to take some of that pressure away--we now see you as a mortal with an extraordinary gift to combine words in beautiful arrangements for story telling and expression. I am, of course, leaving out many other aspects of your public image but the important thing is that you are now viewed as a fellow human. It took me a long time to realize the same thing about the other band members because my access to them off the stage was limited to briefly meeting some of them a few times.
I am sorry to take up so much of your time when all I am trying to say is simply, "Thank You." So, thank you for your wonderful storys and poems over the years and for exploring this new forum of communication. It takes balls and serious commitment to do what you are doing and we all appreciate it.
yeah, rock & roll (or whatever the hell this is) tends to put a magnifying glass on folks until their virtues and faults are blown all out of proportion. Which is which is hard to tell in the distortion. You probably have to have something similar happen to you personally to get a feel for it.
At this time, it seems obvious that we need to separate the myth from the reality of our situation. Delusion doesn't help the grieving process much, and a lot of people are still hurting. If there's to be any healthy continuity in the Grateful Dead, in whatever form, a more factual perspective on the orgnization by our supporters is critical. Otherwise we go the way of myth, which, to me, is failure. I always resisted the way well (and not so well) meaning writers tried to historicize us long before our rightful time. I saw (and see) it as a kind of living entombment. The pseudo-historical view caught on and is now in full blaze. When our actual history is written -which is to say a long time hence, our "historians" will be part of it.
If that's all the input you get, it's all you know. It's my intention to help push us out of that bag, so we can live, breath and continue to create despite the legendary onus which tends to contrast everything we try to do, and will try to do, against the yard stick of what we've done already and finds it wanting. The only way out of that bind I can figure is to come clean. Just drop the 'legend' pose altogether, defy the pressure to "shut up and be history."
Date: Jul 31 1996 3:33 PM EDT
From: email@example.com (Jody Lentz)
hi hunter --
England sounds like it's being good to you -- aside from the Welsh
intestinal attack. I've always pictured you at home in the old lush hedges of the old country rather than the newer lush woodlands of the Bay. Something about Rum Runners I think...
Reading your 7.26 Journal I found myself with tears in my eyes. Bloody hard to explain to the guy who shares my office -- hell, hard to explain to myself.
Maybe it's your reminiscence of the Workingman's Dead photo session and the subsequent development of your invisible persona. Mysterious as it was, I always felt like I was missing something by not having your picture in my mind as the sage bard behind those lyrics that always spoke to my soul [lord, stop my sycophancy ]. What I always assumed was a conscious choice on your part was the whim of designers and management, and seems to have made a mark on you, or at least your relationship with your bandmates and entourage.
That there was ever any negative energy kinda blows my mind, but as you point out in the mailbag, "opposites always attract and there will always be a naked guy crashing through the drumset." Essential to balance, eh?
Maybe those tears were brought on by the earlier Journal that recalls your conversation with Jerry a few days before he shed his mortal coil. It's so damn selfish, but I miss the guy. Maybe it's not so selfish -- I've recently come into contact with some folks who could really use a mind-bending Dead show, and I'm sad they'll not get the chance to check out Garcia. They did enjoy Further, but their comments told me that the whole thing was a little out of context for them. I've loaded them down with tapes to give them a little history (the 4-12-71 show in Bangor ought to open them up to Pigpen as well as Jerry).
Anyway, you commented on the upcoming anniversary of Jerry's death and that troubled me too. Our culture has a hard time with death -- that's why undertakers make such a ransom -- but it seems like death is whatwe remember about the people we revere. Everybody remembers Nov. 22, 1963, April 4, 1968 and now August 9, 1995 (JFK, MLK, JG). I can't even tell you what Kennedy's and King's birthdays are, but I'm damn sure making an effort to remember Jerry's life, not his death.
My band is playing tonite (7-31) and to celebrate Jerry's birthday
tomorrow, we've put in a larger number than usual of your and Jerry's tunes: Birdsong, Friend of the Devil, New Speedway, Ripple and a Touch of Gray encore for our one-set show, plus Cold Rain & Snow and Easy Wind. It already appears folks are gearing up to grieve again on 8-9, but although I'm sad at times, I always come back to the unbridled joy I got (and still get!) from Garcia. Celebrating his life -- not remembering his death -- is a real catharsis.
About your archives -- this site is the most deep on the Net. When I hear people whine about how there's no "real" writing on the WWW, I give 'em your URL. Even the non-Deadheads are blown away -- poetry, prose, personal journals and email all written with the most insight and intelligence I can imagine. Keep on truckin'
BTW, one suggestion -- forget responding to the meanings of lyrics, songs, poems, etc. You're obviously a polite guy with a passion for understanding, community and general niceness, but these Q's are kinda pointless. It's art, folks! It means what you think it means -- it means what you get out of it -- it is what it is and that's all that it is, to paraphrase Popeye. I really like your comment about the lyrics being about what you were feeling or what you were going through, as opposed to being some grand metaphor for life, the universe and everything. Hell, Ripple is just a great haiku -- isn't that enough?!
>> > For a person who cherishes compassion and love, the practice of
>>tolerance is essential; and for that, an enemy is indispensible.< -- The Dalai Lama <<
God Damn, man! For once in my mizzuble existence I seem to have communicated exactly what I meant to say. There may be hope for me as a writer yet!
Date: Jul 31 1996 2:44 PM EDT
From: Chris.Barrett@ast.lmco.com (Barrett, Chris)
Hi. I REALLY enjoy the RH archives and especially the journal
entries. The dead.net is in its infancy I hope, dizzying the possibilities.
Keep up the good work, there are a lot of heads out here that really love what
we're seeing but don't necessarily feel the compulsion to send fan mail
without anything concrete to add to the scene.
I have much respect for you and feel that the world is a lot easier to
live in thanks to your lyrics and the Grateful Dead putting it to music in
the best way possible. Thank you for providing me with all the good times
over the years that I have had the Dead's music to enjoy with friends old
and new. We used to spend all day in line at Winterland either watching the
parade of so many heads hanging out or playng pickup games of tag football
with the local kids. For 12- 15 year olds they were pretty good....beat us
college heads more often than they lost. The Dead shows must have given
them lots of cannon fodder. Along with many other deadheads on the
sidewalks around Winterland and the Greek and Oakland Auditorium I learned
the hard way that at the 3-card monty games played by a couple enterprising
local fellows were easy to spot the Queen until it was my own twenty dollar
bill on the line. Just another boost to the local economy brought to you by
those tired, smiling, rowdy, can't'stay in the crosswalk or stop walking
when the light says DONT WALK freaks it was so easy for local non-heads to
frown at by the hundreds blocking traffic at 1:00 am just after the last
encore. Remember the two-encore shows?!
Here's my favorite Dead related uncanny story:
After a great show at Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus (1988?) I offered
my freind, Pat, a ride to LA Airport to catch the late flight to SF. Pat
and another of his friends I had just met were going on without me to catch
more Dead shows in the Bay Area. Being in a rather elevated state of mind,
we had just a little trouble locating my VW. Once we got to the car I
remarked that since I was very new to town, I didn't exactly know how to get
to LAX so I think I'll just follow the car directly in front of me. Pat
knew me and had no doubt that I meant what I said, he just gave a little
nervous chuckle and went along for the ride. After all, he had no choice
and also had no knowledge of the LA freeway system at the time. Pat's
friend thought I was kidding and rode along while I followed the car ahead
of us... all the way to LAX ! Yes, this driver was doing the exact same
thing, taking his Deadhead friends to the airport and it was to the same PSA
Airlines door that I needed to take Pat & company. Good thing too, 'cause I
may have had to drive Pat all the way to SF if I got too lost in the
combination of LA fog and post Dead show buzz I was well into at that hour.
As a postscript I'll add that later that month I saw Pat again and he told
me that the plane was almost full of high Deadheads and a few unlucky
squares (I think that maybe they were lucky to get an altered vision of
modern air travel). The deadheads were full of so much leftover magic from
the evening's Dead show that very early in the flight the flight attendants
just sort of gave up doing thier regular gig and went along with the fun by
not ruining the fun for the freaks! Besides, they found that pushing a
drink cart through the aisle was completely impossible with all the
hacky-sack playing, dancing to Dead tapes and just aimless wandering smiling
long-hairs going on. One stewardess remarked that it was the weirdest
flight she'd ever been on. Not surprising. In my ever so clear hind sight,
I now wish I had got on that plane just for the fun!
A thousand Thank You's for sharing your talent with us,
thanks for the colorful memoir. Sounds about like the coach class plane rides with the band and crew itself when we were all young and full of piss, vinegar & other assorted substances and taking off on tour. The rides became more sedate as the tour progressed until we were almost ruly (except for Weir who was forever trying to snatch PigPen's hip flask and starting a new round of sailing pillows at 7,000 feet).
The David Nelson Band
8/8, 8/9 Philadelphia, PA Middle East Cafe
(with Kingfish, T.C., Country Joe)
8/11 Poconos, PA - Big Boulder Ski Area Gathering on the Mountain
David Nelson Band plays at 1:45 P.M.
(with Kingfish, Big Brother and the Holding Company, etc.)
8/11 Queens, N.Y. Manny's Car Wash
Two shows - 8 PM and 11 PM
8/12 Amagansett, Long Island Stephen's Talk House
8/13 Boston, MA House of Blues
8/14 Stoneridge, N.Y. Hasbrook House
8/15 Baltimore, MD 8 X 10
Date: Aug 1 1996 12:17 PM EDT
Subj: green man
How are you? I am glad you've enjoyed being back in Europe. The house is beautiful...I'm in Maryland and I've been keeping up with your journal entries for a couple months now. I must say that it is quite gutsy to get on there and spread your thoughts as well as leaving an email address. There are not many out there who are willing to get to know everyone. So much fear about who the lunitics are these days...so much suspicion. I am 23 and very attached to the Dead's musical journey up the mountains and through the misty valleys. I read "Living With the Dead" by Rock Scully and it seemed a very REAL account but one never knows for sure these days. The public are often taken advantage of. Do you have a publisher for "Giant's Harp"? It is beautiful. I dislike reading on the computer because I enjoy highlighting important points etc with my pencil. *grins* I'm a Literature buff. Who are some of your favorite authors?
I really miss Jerry but perhaps it was time for everything to be finished. He created a movement with his life and again with his death. Some of us got lost in the cloudy sun dappled travels and are drowning in the river of reality now that the prophet of imagination has disappeared. A soulful person has much to teach and much to learn...perhaps Jerry had taught everything he knew without saying a word and with that he had learned all he could from this life. The state of this world definitely seemed detrimental to his state of mind and I'm pleased that when I sleep at night his spirit may pass over me.
that would be nice to think. The first anniversary of his death is upon us and it's bound to be heavy, but I hope no one drowns in the "river of reality." Those of us who've know much grief also know that it passes. We think we don't even want it to pass, so deep is our feeling. We think it would somehow be a betrayal of the one we grieve for to ever feel truly lighthearted again. But it isn't, and we do. We're made that way. If it were not so, the human race wouldn't have survived.
Thanks for the nice things you said about my work. I'm particularly gratified when someone says they like "The Giant's Harp." Yes, I'm considering publishing it when finished. I pour a lot of time and effort into it, rendering a lot of the things I think about in fictional form. And it gives me an excuse to write lyric in the manner of ancient times, feeling jealous as I sometimes do of the scope for beauty and narrative offered by the old bardic forms. Where better to place it than in Terrapin, a long time before they built the station there . . .
Subj: I wanna 'hit' you
Date: Aug 1 1996 10:25 PM EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (s gambino)
I've been online a short time and have recently stumbled
into the Archive. Not far into the daily journals, you ask that we go into
the Archive via the url as opposed to bookmarking and I'll be damned if I
can do that. I'm using
and every time it's "not found" so I ended up getting in through a Yahoo
search and bookmarking it, which is how I access it now.
Do I have the url right?
If I can't 'hit you' via the url, is there some way to send a
message direct to the adults so I can spew forth about how this archive is
the most wonderful and appropriate thing that could be happening right now?
Let me know.
glad you asked that. Be aware that net addresses are "case sensitive" which means capital letters are not the same as small letters. My page URL is:
which means there are two errors in the URL you're punching up. You've got a small "r" in robert & a capital "A" in the 2cnd ""Archive."
I wasn't asking you to do an end run around DeadNet to get to my page - quite the opposite. I was requesting that you hit the GD homepage first, then access my file from there. We're proud of what we're building on the homepage and there's a lotmore to see than my file. The URL for the GD Homepage is: http://www.dead.net and you don't have to type "http://" if you've got Netscape www.dead.net will do the trick. They've got a counter on the page that will let the "adults" know that what we're doing is getting looked at, then they may give us more money to pay our staff to do it even better. Tricky, huh?
Date: Aug 1 1996 6:57 PM EDT
Subj: furthur fest--shoreline
hello, again, robert,
i thought id send some thoughts back to you after experiencing the shoreline edition of the furthur fest. mickey just might be the key. of course, i assume, the big news is that phil showed up. (i hoped he would when i thought about this shoreline date months ago.) mickey could be the missing link. phil seemed to be having an extremely good time playing. you could see him laughing on the big-screens as they jammed. and mickey may have shed some light on how to solve the problem with jerry's distinctive voice. fire on the mtn. was primarily mickey doing "rap". (i hate rap, but he was doing a conversational rendition of the lyrics which actually made them stand out, compared with the sung versions.) maybe mickey could put some of the vitality in that vital new medium that i wished upon you last time.
i could even see a "group dead" with several bassists--now that ive seen phil, cassidy and wasserman on the same ticket--and even more "guest" leads, including jorma, sammy haggar, which we think played with mickey last night, and, maybe, carlos santana, mick taylor and on and on. sort of a dead extended musical family. that would lessen the load on all of them as well as greatly expand the possibilities for collaboration on differing jam directions. and such a great musical machine would require a virtual factory to produce sufficient artistic input.
lot of potential, there.
as lennon said, call me a dreamer, but im not the only one . . .
and the list goes on. On the other hand there's always the possibility of tight combo playing evolving to something superfine over time. I doubt that mere quantity of excellent musicians addresses that. Guest star jams are swell, but there's a problem with everyone knowing the changes and when to come in or lay back. Superstar jams on "Not Fade Away" are only going to take it so far. In other words, it is focus, not field, where the major work must occur to define the evolution of the sound, in my opinion. But your extravagant enthusiasm is much appreciated. My reports say that Shoreline was the show the FT was evolving toward. One more and everyone can go home and figure out what happened. What worked, what didn't, and why. Feedback helps. The rec.music.gd newsgroup has been particularly good that way, since they pull no punches.
Date: Aug 2 1996 8:18 AM EDT
From: 73227.1510@CompuServe.COM (Pete Shanks)
Rising up from two weeks of depression and futility
I wandered into your 7/21 journal and got touched and
moved and strangely comforted by your 7/19 piece on
invisibility and the like ... because it tapped into
my own issues, natch ... you do have a strange position,
especially with the website, because not only do people
have a picture of where you're at, and talk about it
(People Magazine syndrome, hip variant), they actually
talk TO you about it ... pretty weird
Most of us don't get these reflections in the funhouse,
except very occasionally -- personally, I back off from
time to time and try to construct a self-image, and
generally fail ... god knows what anyone thinks of me!
Some folk seem to like someone I'm not; I much prefer
it when some assholes seem to dislike who I am; and some
few people, generally to my surprise, seem to like who
I actually am ... which I suppose is to say that I like
the guy who comes through that little sad story, though
that's not what I set down to write -- but then what ever is?
I dunno, I'm coming to think Sam Johnson was almost right --
none but a fool ever publishes but for money ... writing
just is, it's just what you gotta do or you go nuts, and
that is true (for those for whom it's true) even if you're
not much "good" ... I know a group of not-very-good poets
here and we did a gig last week, and the gig was brilliant.
I really think it was. All of us would admit that our
shit aint going down in history, I suppose you could call
it folk poetry or something; I mean, we try, we would
like to write poems that are as good as the ones we like,
and we know we fail, and it doesnt matter -- and occasionally
each of us does touch something -- and maybe the strength
of the gig was that we were communicating emotions, and so
I guess it IS good poetry, it's just that it doesnt work
so well on the dead abstract page ... also we're not stupid
and so we created a show, with brief musical interludes,
fast pace, no more than 4 short poems by one person at a
stretch ... we didnt pretend that This Is Art And You Will
Respect It And No Coughing At The Back ... I know some
folk singers (quite good, shanties) who get pissed off if
people dont shut up, and I always say for christs sake it's
a pub they're supposed to be drinking beer and chatting in
the background, it's up to you to shut them up....
sorry, rambling off subject ...
anyway, whoever you are, it aint gonna be who pretty much
anyone else thinks you are -- possibly including you
good to hear from you. Temporary depression isn't bad for an artist because shit can be seen for shit there and flushed. Show me a writer who isn't at least a token depressive and I'll show you someone who can't write. I'd go so far as to say that depression IS depth. How do you phoney it up and then face yourself in the pits? I mean, we're bad enough when we *try* to be honest, huh?
Weird? What's weird about publishing your diary in public and dealing with the conscience of the world speaking back to you? It's an idea whose time has come and after getting used to the form, I'm here to say it gets to seem as normal as anything else. And you know, I do take pains not to put the best face on myself (cut it out, you kidder!) or it'd be promo, you know? Then how would I face myself in the doldrums? It's an open secret that everything everyone writes, including the news, is a diary anyway - so why not use the first person and sign it?
I caught the crest of a wave - realized that, due to my circumstance, I was in a necessary period of transformation. Decided to put it out fairly raw and see how it affected the process, ego being somewhat in abeyance as it is in shock and/or grief. And people answer me in kind, sign their names to some pretty heavy shit, and I publish it. My problem isn't the relative health or insanity of it, just the work load. As for my SELF - what the fuck, welcome to it. It's just an overshoe anyway, not even blue suede. I've always had a problematic relationship with my ego - reminds me of someone in my past I didn't like very much. My talent, on the other hand, I enjoy. It's an ability to communicate with some aspect of something I like very much. Something critics tend to hate. Makes 'em see red.
As for publishing for money, only a fool would believe there's any to be had in publishing if you write (or record) for any other reason than to sell a lot of copies and have the necessary cynicism to do just that. Granted, there are flukes that prove the rule - like Anne Frank. Hey, wait a minute - I'm getting carried away by the force of your downswing, Pete. A dozen exceptions suddenly spring to mind.
Good that you don't mistake a helluva good time presenting live poetry with good poetry. I stopped performing poetry because I found myself writing pieces I knew would be entertaining and not reading my better work because it didn't get the crowd off the way standup poetic routines do. I knew I was fuckin' with the Muse, and that's one thing I won't do if I understand that's what I'm doing. Beware, O, take care!
Subj: W.B. Yeats meets Cole Porter....
Date: Aug 3 1996 3:32 AM EDT
From: email@example.com (Robert Lockhart)
Reading the entries in your mail bag was kind of like findin' out
a lot of black rams have been tupping my white ewe ( Othello).
I naively presumed to keep you pretty much to myself. But quick
to the point...
I have always been utterly awed by the incredible concision of your
Lyric. I admired you long before I was familiar with W.B. Yeats and I
hear in his work a model of yours. The basis for my comparison is that the words that you write are, as Yeats' are, entirely in service to the image you evoke. The lyric is never only luscious (though always luscious), for it is always constrained to a meaningful image. For me, you are a great metaphysical poet according to the old definition proposed by the good Dr. Johnson who defined the class by their interest in concrete objects and corporeal and mystical images as opposed to classical allusion or dramatic monologue. Most that you have written for the Grateful Dead might be chiseled out of marble and could serve well as one epitaph or another. I personally have dibs on "ain't got time to call the soul a critic no."
That is, by the way the song I have loved the best. And I sincerely
thank you for the blood I know you spilled over it. And if the Yeats comparison doesn't hold up for you, let me at least put you up there with the very best of tin-pan alley. In fact, maybe that is what Robert Hunter really is... William Butler Yeats meets Cole Porter. Anyway, at the risk of sounding like the beer commercial -- I love you, man.
Robert Bruce Lockhart.
fine name on ye there, lad. Thank you for the high praise.
I came on Yeats later in life, having little knowledge of poetry outside the school curriculum. I can see stylistic similarities, was in fact surprised by them,, but I tired of his work quickly, finding it too metaphysical for my personal taste. I discovered, reading some of his prose, that he had a program; which is to say, a set of rigorous mystical beliefs which, if known, provide a key and remove the mystery from the poems. They illustrate a more or less Theosophical set of occult beliefs, though the language is very fine. This flattened a line such as "There was one who loved the pilgrim soul in you," otherwise so monumentally resonant, knowing Yeats was speaking literally and specifically about reincarnation. Realizing that the reader was being directed along a known path, rather than being privy to the poet's own journey of personal discovery, removed the sense of 'privileged insight' from the work. The blood and thunder of Wm. Blake, where confusion and brilliant vision tangle, through which you must thread your own path, is more to my liking. Still, in Yeat's Byzantium poems, the glimmer of actual mystery shines through and the pleasures of that series are unique.
Anyway, now that I've run my little lecture, thank you for the intent of your letter, which honors me beyond my worth. I don't mean to seem in the least ungrateful. If my soul is no critic, my intellect certainly is. Second reference to Dr. Johnson in two days, via email. A man for all seasons. Have you read Boswell's "Tour of the Hebrides"? Double up and bust a gut funny!
Date: Aug 2 1996 6:08 PM EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Allaire)
I have enjoyed your work for almost thirty years now and just want to say thanks.
I couldn't come up with a better sentence than this to tell you how well your work resonates with my observations of the world (though I guess your songs helped shape my view), how I enjoy your glimpses of American life as I do those of Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac and others, how your turns of phrase make me chuckle at having the rug pulled from under my expectations yet again, and how you teach gently, using the Zen master's stick only when absolutely necessary.
And thanks to you and Mickey for Mystery Box. When I have a grandchild, I'll try using Sandman as a spooky lullaby.
gracias. The Zen master's stick I leave lying around in the dark to trip over when I go to the bathroom. Thanks for hanging with us all these years. Without your ears, none of it would be heard. A vast and satisfying symbiosis.
(at this point, to my deep dismay, my word processor program crashed and a couple of incredible letters, along with replies, were lost irrecoverably since, like a fool, I throw the originals away as I copy them into the mailbag. Guess I won't make that mistake no more. Hope it wasn't yours.)
Subj: Changes in lyrical meanings over 30 years
Date: Aug 6 1996 2:16 AM EDT
From: email@example.com (Matty Ruzz)
Seems magical to be writing to someone such as yourself. (Sidenote - The
backspace key may be the death of truth in communication. I've already
typed a few lines and changed my mind as to what to write, and with the
click of a key you have no idea. Kind of sad) I was fortunate enough to
catch a few weeks of the Furthur festival. Thank you so much for being a
part of Mickey's music... night after night, he stole the show. Anyway,
something's been on my mind, and I'd like to know your thoughts about it.
I'm 19 years old, and first saw the Dead in 1992. I knew I was hooked when
I felt chills during Black Peter. I remember asking an older guy next to me
if this was a newer song, and at the time was surprised to hear that it had
been released in 1970. Robert, I'm wondering what you were feeling when you
wrote tunes like Stella Blue or Black Peter, or any of the early Jerry
ballads. If there were no tapes, and one wasn't familiar with 30 years of
history, those songs were written to be sung by a white haired, frail man
who at anytime could leave us for the next "stop on the tour." Were they?
Is that what you envisioned when the pen hit the paper? It's hard for me to
see a young dark haired Jerry singing about one last night of sleep. What
was it like to watch Jerry live some of poetry you wrote?
I also wanted to thank for the tale of Terrapin Station. Last August, a few
nights after the Day, I went to see a Dead cover band. As I'm sure you
experienced more than anyone, I felt confusion and reluctance to think about
what my future would be like without the Man. It was exhausting and
painful, but I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders when the singer sang "I
can't figure out if it's an end or beginning. But the train's put its
brakes on, and the whistle is screaming."
Robert, I don't know that there is anyone who has such a beautiful grip on
the English language as you do, and the only writer I can think of that
could come up with words to thank you for all you've unknowingly and
unselfishly given me and millions of others is, well, you. So give yourself
a proverbial pat on the back, and know you've done a lot of good in this world.
Love and Warmth,
it was just as strange to me to see a white haired older man singing the songs of our youth as it is for you to think of a young man singing them.
As I prepare to put up a page that will answer some of your questions and raise others, let me say that one thing I can't manage to do is manufacture my own congratulations. Not that I don't try -it would all be so easy then- but what motivation would there be for reaching out? Face it, in this world a pat on the back is diamonds. We climb mountains and fly to the moon for a pat on the back. We languish and grow bitter for lack of one. We're too proud to ask for one, or we grovel around in the mud in the hopes of receiving a half hearted pat, if only out of sympathy. If through excess we grow jaded, we may cease to value the approval we get but the hunger remains and grows until we demand a pat on the back from the whole world, or it doesn't count. Or we ask it of the bottle, and sometimes the bottle complies.
Bill Monroe used to say to his audience: "The more you applaud, the better we play!"
He wasn't afraid to ask and he always played real good.