Days Of Skull and Roses

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The 60’s were days of hope, intense and genuine built on a platform of innocence and fantasy which were fueled by drugs sex and rock and roll. Raw and unkempt was this movement of youthful enthusiasm, pure creative energy, and a thirst to experiment. Experiments in sight sound color art and yes, chemicals. The drugs were not the main focus at first but rather a sort of footnote, a little oil on the wheels of creativity to enhance it. Unfortunately it has come to define the decade in many peoples eyes.
The decade was sullied with the atrocities of war both overseas in Viet Nam and here at home with civil rights in the forefront. But it was that sullying, the soiling of our values and natural evolution of humanitarianism that inspired a collective rebel spirit. In the midst of this expansion of the minds came a band that would have a polarizing and empowering effect on its fans. The Grateful Dead.
Even the name of the band had mystical roots, previously know as The Warlocks upon opening a book and pointing the name Grateful Dead magically appeared. The meeting of a lyricist without equal and a guitarist without equal contributed to forming what can best be described in Robert Hunters own words. Their a band beyond description, like Jehovah’s favorite choir.
Last night The Grateful Dead wrapped up a five show reuniting that was filled with as much magic as the band itself. They did everything right, from choosing who to sit in with the four remaining members, to where and when the shows were played,(finishing up where the last show that included Jerry Garcia was on the fourth of July) to the decision not to have a fake hologram of Jerry on stage. Trey played masterfully not attempting to duplicate or imitate Jerry’s guitar riffs but joining in the spirit of improvising his own sound which was one of the things that set the Dead apart. The Phil zone was in full stature, the drums/space/drums had evolved and had a distinguished and fully matured sound, Bob was playing and singing as good as ever, and a few times I almost mistook him for Jerry with the full face of hair. Or maybe it was a recurrent experience who knows. Chimenti and Hornsby filled in beautifully on the ever rotating keyboards and in my opinion the band sounded fan-friggen-tastic.
When Jerry died in 1995 it was pretty clear no one would be able to fill those huge guitar strings and for many of us it was like Grateful Dead limbo. But this past week the Core Four gave us an amazing present. After almost twenty years they have given us closure. The music will live on, the Core Four will continue to play, and somewhere the spirit of Jerry is smiling and saying “Great job guys, the way it always was, the way it always should be.”

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