A Different Kind of Throwback Thursday
While in Portland, Oregon last week, I took the opportunity to attend the fourth annual Grateful Dead Meet-up. Movie theaters around the country played a 1972 concert of the jam band on Thursday, July 17. The concert, performed in Bremen, Germany, was performed in a television studio for the rock and roll television show The Beat.
When most people think of the Grateful Dead they recall the 1960s acid rock experiences of San Francisco. They served as the house band for the legendary Electric Kool-aid Acid Tests chronicled by Tom Wolfe and Aldious Huxley. Most people remember Woodstock (they chose to not be featured in the movie), the disaster at the raceway in Altamont, California, and Deadheads who followed them from city to city attending hundreds of shows.
The Dead carry the label “jam band” because they played improvisational rock. In fact, they are the original jam band. They rarely played the same arrangement of the same song twice. In fact, they had hardly any arrangements at all. They also rarely used a set list. They responded to the audience’s energy, and chose each song as they played.
So the music itself is a social experience. Add in the energy of their devoted following, and you find the ultimate in social musical performance.
Though they disbanded in August of 1995 at the death of their leader, Jerry Garcia, their following has actually grown. Live albums from old concerts sit at the tops of sales charts every year. Podcasts and YouTube videos allow Deadheads to continue their experience with the band members and the music.
While I never saw them in concert, I bought my first Grateful Dead album in late 1969, Workingman’s Dead. I’ve loved them ever since.
Though I have long since moved away from the failed promise of peace, love, and freedom of my hippie days, it still love the Dead.
As I drove to downtown Portland, I wondered what I would experience? Would the audience be nothing but sixty- and seventy-year-olds stuck in the bad old days? Or would I find professional people who stopped using drugs and got lives? Like me.
I found both. The parking lot was filled with new Priuses, Mercedes, and Nissans, but it also featured old VW Microbuses, and rust-cankered sedans displaying discarded trash in the back window shelf. The audience members wore beat up tie dyed shirts, long pioneer dresses, pony tails behind mostly bald heads, but also business casual and modern attire.
The way the audience really stood out was in its friendliness. While waiting for the show to start, rather than sitting in a dark theatre playing with iPhones, we visited warmly. Freaks spoke freely with those who dressed more stylishly. I’ve never seen a louder, pre-movie crowd. I saw, and even experienced loud and friendly conversation, hugs, and teasing.
“What shows did you attend?” The friendly competition for who hS attended the most concerts broke out. The winner in my section of the theatre had attended 378.
I loved it. I even teared up a little, though that isn’t unusual. I felt aligned with the eclectic group of music lovers.
So, what did I learn on this unusual “Throwback Thursday”?
Goodwill comes in many forms. My faith generates positive sentiments in me for every child of God. My relationships with my Father in Heaven, the Savior, and my wife are my primary attachments. But I also felt good about the good feelings I felt from my fellow Deadheads.
I also felt grateful in my good fortune to sever my connection to the chains of drug use when I did. At this event I saw many who did not get out in time. I saw signs of mental illness, diminished capacity, and broken bodies.
I felt a stronger desire to share Kathy’s and my unusual story—how we met, how we searched, how we discovered the truth, and how it’s turning out for us.
I’m so grateful for my life.
If you want to read our story, go to http://alturl.com/xyyxi