Marty Freeman here reporting in Dean’s absence. Apparently, his family is fed up with his Dead addiction and have encouraged him to make it through at least one meal without streaming something. The meal will be breakfast since it’s too difficult to make it through lunch or dinner. I was sent to The Big “O” to document an experience by The Burbridge and Chimenti Experience with a supporting cast of some older guys that used to play in a really good Rock band, from what I hear. Since getting on “The Bus” in Colorado last Summer, I’ve learned more about life and all of its intricacies than I ever thought possible. I’m still amazed by what I’ve been able to accomplish through some songs. Somehow, the songs have taught me much more than college did. I was looking forward to another experience in the wonderful world of psycho-musical development put on by the masters of mental and neurological reorganization. Here’s how last night’s lesson went down.
As I was entering the arena, I was given a small piece of paper with a pretty picture on it by a man named HummaDank. I thought to myself, “What a pretty temporary tattoo” and licked it and stuck it to my arm. I couldn’t get the picture to transfer to my skin but at least I tried. By the time I arrived at my seats, my stomach became slightly unsettled and it felt like I was sitting in a giant soda can. It wasn’t long before I realized something was growing inside of me. I felt like a pressure cooker and the energy that was coming from my center was causing the entire arena to grow happier by the minute. I began to wonder if I had the capacity to make all of these people as happy as they wanted to be… Part of me was afraid but part of me realized it was impossible to “Stop what must arrive now, Something new was waiting… To be born” As lyrics tried to assign me my place in all of this, I found it odd that the universe chose me to be totally impregnated with the energy required to make so many people happy. What if I failed? As I felt increasingly stranger and concerned, I tried as hard as I could to become invisible. There seemed to be no greater fear at that moment than being noticed.
As I focused as hard as I could on somebody hitting the switch that turns out the lights, it happened. My hands and feet became colder than I wanted them to be… I realized I was receiving the message that Cold Rain and Snow was coming… As others around me shouted things like, “HELL IN A BUCKET” and “ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT”, I knew they were wrong but didn’t have the capacity nor the time to tell them all individually. As the first notes of Cold Rain and Snow were played on General Geranimal’s Silver guitar, the valve on the pressure cooker in my soul was released and the imprisoned joy was forced out like steam from my center. It was so powerful that it caused the entire building to become happy all at once. I was trying to enjoy the song but the powers that made me responsible for knowing the setlist wouldn’t leave me alone. I heard them tell me that the Music Never Stopped was next and I wondered if I should let everyone know or keep it to myself. While The Music Never Stopped, at times it came pretty close… When the jam got a little confusing, my legs became jelly worms and I wasn’t sure if I could continue standing. Since I was the keeper of the gate, I chose Row Jimmy next so I could get my shit together. I knew Row Jimmy would give me at least 20 to 30 minutes to do that. I closed my eyes to relieve myself of some of the intensity I was experiencing and as I did I saw Weir in Colorado on a horse. I knew Me and My Uncle was next but didn’t want to ruin it for everybody else. As I got myself up for dancing again, I got hit by a breeze of confusion. My mind started to drift to some way out place and as I lost focus, I thought that Cumberland was Maggie’s Farm. It was my first error of the night and it made me a little worried. I had to regain my focus or the whole night could be in jeopardy. During Cumberland, the song began to have an invisible body of its own and Jeff was causing the lungs to expand and contract. As he played the solo on his piano, each note lit up a particular place in my brain and I was realizing my neurons were being reorganized. The piano solo somehow was bending the entire composition and the song had to surrender as Jeff stretched it like Silly Putty. At that moment, all prior concerns regarding my responsibilities for the night were removed from me and replaced by the realization that I was currently in the middle of the best thing that was happening at the time on planet earth. My brain had entered the cycle of the wash where the spinning removes particles of unnecessary debris from the item within it. The first notes of Althea caused me to see my whole entire life existed on a riff that was played on one of the larger strings on the guitar. This blew my mind and I knew I was chosen before the planet existed to experience that moment. As I danced through the songs with a renewed gratitude for life, John sang a note at the end that was so sour I could taste it. That fucked me up for a little while but I recovered in time to Celebrate One More Saturday Night. The song made me feel so happy that it wasn’t Monday or Wednesday. I stared at the drummers since they seemed to be the busiest people on the stage. They worked so hard to be sure the experience wouldn’t come to a halt and it was obvious to me that John was responsible for styling Mickey’s hair. I kept that information to myself and enjoyed a moment that was as happy as the birth of reindeer!
Now for the hard part… Intermission. I’ve often wished there was no pause in the middle of the show. If there had to be, I sure do wish they would keep the lights out. As soon as they went on I realized that most people had the brains of a lizard and if I stared at them long enough, they started to resemble them. I became a little worried about things that I couldn’t control and I caught small pieces of every conversation that was taking place everywhere in the universe. At times, the voices all merged to form white noise but there were multiple instances when the white noise would part and my ears would be pulled into a conversation I didn’t choose to participate in but wasn’t given the option. I intuitively had most of the answers to questions that people around me were puzzled by but I had no ability to communicate that to them. How would they improve if I didn’t help them? I started this whole touring thing to be free from responsibilities and here I am now, in Ohio, in the middle of a show, with a growing list of things the universe has made my responsibility. This all got way too heavy and I just wanted the lights to go out again… I wondered if it was Sunday yet…
Once the lights went out, I could hear my mind being shuffled like a deck of cards but only if I focused solely on that sound. The first notes of St. Stephen were like the head of a match and I was the rough surface that caused the immediate ignition of a massive illumination of heat and light. The entire building got filled with the substance that’s created when an Angel is formed. I was sure of it… The music became so legit that every time it reached a peak it recruited another ladder to go higher and higher. Then at the end, I was hit by the music like a tidal wave and a man’s face appeared on the screen that perfectly represented how all of us were feeling at the same time. Something became much calmer within me as I realized that I wasn’t the only one responsible for taking care of everybody at the show but this guy was obviously responsible for a bunch of shit too! His head expanded so rapidly during that song that his hat no longer could contain the magnitude of the moment. It was the grooviest thing I ever experienced, at least during that moment.
While He’s Gone was playing, I continued to think about the other man that was also in charge of making everything work properly and due to lack of focus, Weir got lost. I apologized in my mind and innately was aware that Weir accepted my apology. In order to let me know how much he appreciated me and that other guy taking care of everybody, they played Chinacat! I was like a duck on stormy seas as the music tossed me all over the fuckin place. At this point I was released from all of my fears by the man on the rail and knew I was designed by the creator to weather any storm that might arise, regardless of how much I was thrown around in the process. My mind was already into the Rider when my soul forced my educated brain to move back a few steps. That’s when I heard the opening notes of If I Had The World To Give well before anyone else was able to decipher the cryptic code. The Rolodex in my mind looked for its last appearance and discovered it on November 20, 1978. Not only that, but it was last played by The Grateful Dead in OHIO! As my mind tried to wrap itself around how many things had to take place properly in order for this to happen, it confirmed my suspicions that a force much greater than all of us was organizing the activities of my favorite musicians. It wasn’t me and that guy after all… The burden that was lifted at that moment was inconceivable as Oteil began singing the most beautiful words I’ve heard in a long time. I was totally free and knew that the reason I felt so responsible for everybody was because of this incredible love that I had for all people. I sincerely wanted to have the world to give and give it to you. I felt like Oteil was Grateful Dead Oprah at Christmas time as he gave the world to YOU and YOU and YOU and YOU! The gift of that song bathed everyone in attendance and even those listening through streams across the planet with a love that was deeper than most thought possible. I felt that if you could buy stock in musicians on the Stock Exchange, I would buy a shitload of Oteil Stock as soon as possible. The moment was too heavy for my shoulders to bear and I was awakened to the futility of my efforts regardless. As tears poured down my face, relieving my heart of the illusions of responsibility I had placed upon it, the Rider was played to wipe them away. I was once again being rebuilt from the ground up and from the top down to withstand the things of life with grace and freedom.
Mechanical people were talking really loud during drums and that would’ve freaked me the fuck out if I wasn’t already so far along on my journey. I was able to surrender to the flow of it all as gracefully as one might imagine. During Space, I began to ponder the deeper things in life like, “What the fuck is a REAL Dead Head? Are the REAL Dead Heads the ones that sleep on the couch or the person that owns the home where the couch is located?”
Stella Blue came out of space and answered questions in my life that I didn’t know I had. I wondered when this thing was over if I would have anything left but the pavement… And broken dreams… Thankfully The Watchtower started before I had too long to dwell on that shit… I listened and realized that the Watchtower needed spaces between verses like people need spaces between their teeth. I made the fatal error of listening to a Watchtower from 1987 before the show and wish I hadn’t. It didn’t matter because Sugar Magnolia seemed to serve as the culmination of a lifetime of learning that took place all within a couple of hours. It was a celebration of the freedom I achieved. I felt like a dog that had finally broken free from his leash and made it off the porch. I danced so hard that my ears peeled back in order to become more aerodynamic. The weight I had shouldered for most of the night was lifted from my being and I was set free to experience life as I should.
As answers started coming to me long before any questions existed, I knew that Ripple would be the encore. It had nothing to do with the acoustic guitars, it was a deep inner knowing. The collection of thoughts and feelings I had throughout the course of the week I spent in the arena that night were all represented by the encore. I was eternally grateful for the verse that says, “If I knew the way, I would take you home!” It was helpful in implying that I don’t know the way and I’m not even gonna ask so I definitely am not responsible for getting you home… All this because I went to another concert… Far Out…
Yours In Music & Life,
Marty Freeman(pronounced Free mun)