Bob Weir says Jerry Garcia still visits him
A sheepdog is involved...
Here’s one of my more casual posts — often on culture, music or just random musings. Subscribe here to get my newsletter:
“Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings…”
One of my earliest concert memories was seeing The Grateful Dead play several shows in Seattle in 1994. My older brother got me into their music, and it was amazing to walk into our typical downtown arena, Memorial Stadium, and find it transformed into a freewheeling, creative commune. The place was suffused with an energy, a creative spirit, and an open-minded freedom -- and that was before the music even started.
They opened with “Uncle John’s Band” and for me, the rest was history. A profound concert experience can turn you on to live music for the rest of your life.
Fast forward to now, and I feel incredibly lucky to get to meet so many musicians at work. Like any Deadhead, getting to talk to Bob Weir recently was wild -- a life highlight. A lot of what we talked about didn’t “make air”… and that’s where this newsletter comes in.
I asked him about his work and relationship with Jerry Garcia, and he said while he misses Jerry, he still gets to see him in his dreams. Here’s part of our conversation:
WEIR: The guy comes to me in my dreams every now and again, and we get some laughs in. And sometimes when I'm by myself, stuff comes up, and I laugh.
MELBER: If you don't mind my asking, How does he appear to in your dreams? Is it a specific memory you guys shared that comes up, or he comes back, and sort of is like a person in your life now?
WEIR: A while back, he came to me in a dream, and introduced to me a song that we were gonna work on together — it was a Jazz ballad that we were going to do at duet on — and the song itself was a living critter, not unlike a great, big ethereal sheepdog.
He came up and sniffed me, and I batted it around a little bit… and we got to be friends, and we got to like each other. And then that sort of confirmed a notion that I've been harboring for a long time:
That ‘the song’ is an actual, living entity of some sort.
And it just comes and visits us through the artists who let it act as a portal for it. So that kind of stuff happens in my dreams.
I love how Bob put that, and how he approaches things. Artists are such creative thinkers, we can learn a lot from their minds far outside the realm of their music expertise.
The Dead’s loyal following is legendary. If you ask a Deadhead about their favorite song, or lyric, or show, the answer probably cuts deeper than what the “best” one was. It’s emotional. It’s personal.
Now, if you are a Deadhead, tell me your favorite show or story in our comments… if not, what’s the best live show you’ve seen and why?
P.S. If you want to see the whole “uncut” interview with Weir, we uploaded it online. We talk about voting, creativity, and his choices between Skull & Roses or Dancing Bears, Scarlet Begonias or Fire on the Mountain, and the whether the best concert year was 1977 or 1973….
I've seen dead and company a few times now; I like how John joining the band tweaked the tempo a bit tighter. I did feel Jerry there floating in the rafters watching too upstage left. Our loved ones who cross the veils often visit us in dreams, and in dreaming, metaphors work to unlock things beyond spoken language.
I would love if dead and company could open the edges a bit and write new material continuing the grace and arc of the original band forward in time, because this would honor Jerry and the others still living. Our older siblings are not always our best friends, but they are integral to building the character of who we become. I'm very thankful you have your brother. Keep on keeping on Ari.
I haven’t processed your interview or the sheepdog-that will take time and my own dreams. I would have never guessed your first concert!
I regretfully passed up a road trip the summer of 95 to see them and they would have been my first too. I thought Jerry came back to me years later when watching the musical Joeseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat—“Go Go Jo”.
The spirit of Jerry visited me again on the way to the airport after leaving my aunt at a hospice. It was a dead song that I haven’t quite placed. Something about seeing past the trees in the forest. At the time I just accepted the encouragement to not get overwhelmed with grief or guilt death of a loved one can bring and remember the roots of the trees while trying to navigate my way. It’s a feeling of love or vibration for me nothing seen or heard.