Companies and small business scattered throughout the country today will be dealing with more absences and productivity issues than they have since July of 95. As an east coaster with kids, the last time I was up this late two nights in a row, I was boarding up the windows of my house from the inside during narcotic binges in 1993. For anyone that has said The Dead should do a full tour, do yourself a favor and assess how you feel physically right about now. Then, add 20 or 30 years of age and you’ll understand why that’s not such a wise idea. Sure, I know The Stones are doing it but I think they go into little pods in between shows where they’re kept like valuable, collectible figurines and transported to the next venue. I don’t know, maybe if I cleared a few million this weekend, I wouldn’t be looking for a blend of coffee that contained speed.

With the first weekend of Fare Thee Well in the books, we’re left with a few dominant thoughts. The first one is clearly, “Could you imagine those friggin set lists with Garcia????” Following night one, all I could think about was the sound of Garcia hitting the low notes way up by the top of the neck of Tiger. Something about the way he rode the low notes that grabbed my entire physiology and moved it from the inside out. He could take a bunch of those low notes, put em together and make it sound like he was wrapping a rope filled with joy around my mind, tightening it up and moving me exactly where he wanted to move me. You know who can do that a lot like Garcia??? Absolutely nobody… The thought of his sweet weathered voice emerging from the sound of Viola along with that Jam that consists of those low notes like only he could play em… That’s what makes me shed a tear…

Probably the most refreshing theme of the weekend was everybody finally shutting up about Trey. He earned his place in that spotlight by creating a huge community of his own, all while never attempting to mimic the Master. In my opinion, that light was far too bright for most and nobody had to endure more unwarranted bullshit in the months leading up to this as he did. The only redeeming quality of the disaster that was “He’s Gone” last night was the absolute happiness on Trey’s face while he paid homage to Garcia by riding the low strings in hesitant time regardless of the song that was falling apart around him. His happiness as he sang the lines that have given birth to mantras and millions of bumper stickers over the years was amazing. Bruce was trying like hell to save that moment too.

If you want to know why this whole piece is centered around the biggest mishap of the weekend, I’ll tell you. My 2 favorite things about The Grateful Dead have always been Garcia and Garcia. While that may be true, I was just kidding… My 2 favorite things have always been the moments when they were so connected to that great unknown force that moved them that every note, every sound, every piece of complete silence, were ALL in the perfect place! Those moments became as much a part of our neurologic make up as our mother’s voice. My second favorite thing were the moments that absolutely fell apart as we watched the incredible transformation machine of our life experience crash in front of all of us during moments that didn’t quite work out. The only thing that brought cheers as loud as a perfect Morning Dew crescendo were the moments when the words or the song being played were completely forgotten. We could all completely relate to falling apart in front of thousands of people as many of us stopped traffic on numerous occasions when we were forced to push our broken down buses out of parking lots or into rest areas and gas stations. Our heroes are human and even though they ran like a well oiled machine for long stretches of time and on some nights sounded so tight you could only smile at the stranger next to you and say “HOLY FUCKIN SHIT!!!” The moments when it all didn’t work out quite right were just as endearing.

In Bill’s book he said The Grateful Dead put all they had on risky chances as opposed to sure bets, every time. Because of that, we’ve been treated to the most magical and insightful experiences in musical history. Our minds and lifestyles were crafted accordingly and because of that, 50 years later we either pay homage by living what we learned or as the years slip by we lose sight of what we were and become what the cynical and deceptive world around us is constantly attempting to make us. The choice is always yours and yours alone. You don’t have to tell us what choice you’ve made, it’s obvious to those with opened eyes. Those that scream CASH are typically those without it… Those that scream FUCK YOU are typically fucked up themselves. Those that do nothing but try to shit on every moment are typically people that are helplessly stuck in their own shit. What we were supposed to learn from that all these years was to become an absolute Beacon of Love and hope in our worlds wherever those worlds may be. Our mission is to bring more joy and compassion into every interaction and environment we’re called to be a part of from day to day. It’s my responsibility to leave a trail of laughter in my path. It’s not my responsibility to make sure everybody knows what I mean our how I mean it when I say something, It’s my responsibility to know exactly what and how I mean it in my own heart and hopefully do so without being mean. Know what I mean?

He’s Gone falling apart last night was as perfect as it could’ve been. It really represented what’s happened to so many people in our community since Garcia left. The music has always been the ultimate mirror that we’ve been required to look at while honestly evaluating the condition of our own souls. It’s no different for those making the music than it is for those listening to it. Since He’s Gone, a lot of things have fallen apart. Since He’s Gone, a lot of people, including his closest friends, that used to stick together, completely fell apart. Interestingly enough, those that had nothing to do with it also seemed to be the ones that helped keep the moment together. Since He’s Gone, some people have found reasons to Smile, Smile, Smile while others have become rats in a drain ditch. Since He’s Gone, some have continued to move through life utilizing the finer things that he gave us while others have just fallen apart. Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum there’s one thing we all have been witness to. Since He’s Gone, a lot of things completely fell apart. All of those guys on the stage last night participated in their own ways contributing to how everything fell apart. The emotional health of those at the center of our community has always had a tremendous effect on the whole. The more Garcia came unglued, The more the entire scene around us came unglued. There may have been nothing more appropriate last night than He’s Gone falling apart. Sometimes things can’t be repaired until they’re completely taken apart. That moment for me was the most significant moment of the weekend. It said more than any other moment could. From that moment we can all take a look at what we’ve become since He’s Gone and move forward in a manner that brings honor to the memory. Since He’s Gone fell apart last night I feel like everything and everyone came MUCH closer together… If you want song by song coverage, read somebody else’s stuff…

Can’t wait to see y’all in Chicago!!!

Dead To The Core,


21 thoughts on “Beauty For Ashes…

  1. Diana

    I thought Trey was stellar and also being a Phish fan, could tell he was doing everything in his power to strike a balance between reverence and shreading as he is wont to do–he nailed it. I do wish however Bruce would sing more–or even Trey–Bobby’s vocals are no match for Jerry’s soulful numbers. Bruce should have been given the Loose Lucy (There’s no pointing in Loose Lucy, Bobby!!), and Trey could’ve well-handled the Row Jimmy. Black Peter should have been shelved for the run.

    It’s funny, I didn’t miss Jerry’s guitar as much as I thought I would. I missed his Papa Grande-esque, sweet, sage vocals. Alas. What are you gonna do.

    Looking forward to Chicago!

  2. Nick Newlin

    Thanks Dean. Beautifully spoken. Brought a tear to my eye. I agree.

    What we bring is what we experience.

    I for one brought readiness and optimism,
    tempered with the realism that accompanies
    knowing anyone or anything for a long time, and that
    realism is: it will always be what you make it, because
    it may not always be what you want. And certainly not what you expect.

    I was thrilled because I wanted to be a the shows with my friends.

    And I expected to have a blast and for the music to transport me.
    I also expected it might fall apart a bit and fall short of my ideal
    for what it could be or has been.

    But it was beautiful because I saw the beauty in it.
    Even though I wish the quiet part of Morning Dew had lasted longer.

  3. Mark

    Dean, this might be the single best thing you’ve written since the whole thing began. I agree with all of it. “The more Garcia came unglued, The more the entire scene sound us came unglued.”-Never thought of it that way, but it makes perfect sense. He was one of those rare individuals who simply commanded attention no matter what he was doing. In the end, it was a hard cross for him to bear and as much as we wanted to, none of us could shoulder that burden for him.

    I enjoyed the music these last couple of nights, warts and all. Trey is a good fit with this band; he’s a lot more intuitive and fluid than Warren. He ain’t Jerry, but we’ll never see the likes of Garcia again so I’m just going to be happy with what we’ve got. All the best.

  4. David Rubin


    Eloquently spoken. It transcended time and space.

    Here in Portland, Yesterday had been cloudy and muggy. Last night, during the black Peter, specifically during “See here how everything, leads up to this day. And it’s just like any other day. Sun going up and then, the sun it goin down. Shine through my window, and my friends they come around.” Well, as they sang that, clouds parted and the sun shined its glorious afternoon glow into my home.

  5. carrie finn

    Nailed it. You have expressed what i felt last night and in the days between as groups have formed and become stronger or weaker due to the hive mind.
    We have a magical week ahead. Believe it if you need it…

  6. gaddguy

    Love your posts bro. Glad you got to be a part of it. I wasn’t there but I’m guessing He’s Gone came apart on the bridge. That’s a tricky one if you aint played it in awhile… The energy at the live shows can never be recreated on media but at least a piece of it can still be appreciated. The other guys fed off of Jerry’s energy so without him, it’s a tougher go but I’m sure the moments were still stellar. I listened to Sugaree from Hartford, May 77 on the way into the office. IMHO the greatest Sugaree out there.. Love and appreciate you!

  7. Benjamin

    Thanks for this, Dean. It was nice to see smiles all around up on stage (except Bobby) as they tried to bring it back… Didn’t happen though. The moment was profound. Thank you for putting it into words.

  8. TS

    Had a great time in Santa Clara and soon will be in Chicago with all the people I grew up with can’t wait. Dean, I am hoping you can use your blog to help direct those who know to give info on how the parking lots might fall together at Soldier Field. Had a great time in the Blue Lot in CA and am wondering where everyone is parking next weekend. What was once a giant expansive Soldier Field parking lot seems a mish mash of garages and small lots.

    The map shows a big South Lot in mostly the same place I remember the old lots but I don’t see anyone anywhere selling passes for it. Is that a cash lot day of show? VIP Lot? Anyone have any info on this? Where will the fun be? 20 years later and I still have broke friends who need my help to score tickets. I have mail order all 3 nights but…We plan to sell beer on a level no one has ever seen to fund tickets for the needy (seriously). That means we need to get ourselves into the best lot near Shakedown. Please help anyone!

    1. Cubsndead

      Have been waiting for the near by parking to appear for sale also. Just want to get in and tailgate with friends who are family and family who are friends. The theory of some us locals is that they are reserving the parking near Soldier Field for day of because they know they will have plenty of folks showing up and will need some place to put them. Some more remote areas have already gone on sale. The “south lot” a shadow of its former self will probably be one of the two main areas for Shakedowns. The other being the lot near the Adler Planetarium and a recently changed for the worse music venue called Northerly Island. There is also garage parking under the stadium on the north side (enter on north east side). No tailgating allowed in there. Same goes for the parking structure just south of the stadium but just to the north of the “south lot”. However, that structure does have an open air top level that tailgating is allowed. Hope this helps.

      1. TS

        CubsnDead, thanks for the info! Will be landing Thursday with my closest friend. We both grew up in the Chicago suburbs and have been away out West for 17 years. No matter how it goes down, it won’t get any better than this…

  9. Chip

    Anyone have any ideas on how to get in touch with gdtstoo? We have tried every email and number with no luck. We still have not gotten our set of tickets. Any help would be appreciated!!!

  10. Jeff

    So I was sitting there watching He’s Gone crash and burn. One of my favorite songs from the Grateful Dead songbook, just disintegrating. But, I’m smiling the biggest smile of the night thus far. Alone with my iPad, watching and loving it, and practically tearing up with happiness. I didn’t know exactly why, but you just told me. Thank you for that. And thank you for a beautifully written piece.

  11. Midtown Matt

    Very well said. This was a fantastic read. Many emotions brought up as I read with people surrounding me in this Miami, FL coffee shop. Two more days I head to Chicago where I saw my first and Last Dead show. That day changed my life forever this weekend will be the same from there on forward I Promise…

  12. Lou M

    Dean, you definitely get me every time. You’re summation of the “years between” was spot on. I love the fact that Trey looks like he’s just having so much fun and I think Chicago is going to be epic!! See ya there sir!

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