THOUGHTS ON GARCIA: DON'T LET GO

DAVE SCHOOLS :: WIDESPREAD PANIC, STOCKHOLM SYNDROME

1. How would you say the music of Jerry Garcia and/or the man himself has influenced your music, your craft, and/or your life path?


Dave Schools by Josh Miller
Garcia taught me a lot of lessons both musical and life-wise: first and foremost was the fact that as a musician one did not have to confine oneself to any one particular style or genre. In fact, it was helpful to experiment with all kinds of music and in doing so carve out a personal niche that was more personally satisfying as well as musically unique. As a person I think Garcia helped to shatter the "Rock and Roll Pipe Dream" aspect of stardom. Was he a happy person because of his success? I don't know but it never really seemed like he was happy in the last half of the Dead's career... except when he was playing music! I think Garcia and I share the same need to be making or listening to music at all times. I'll bet the guy even dreamed music... I know I do... I need a bedside tape recorder!

2. What is your fondest memory of Jerry Garcia?

One of my great personal highlights was watching a performance by the Dead at the Hampton Coliseum in May of 1981 (a banner year for "energetic" performances). As I watched this group of middle aged men in t-shirts and jeans create some of the most amazingly heavy ("Stranger," "Other One") and beautiful ("He's Gone," "Wheel," "Wharf Rat") music I had ever seen it struck me that this was something real and intangible that tapped into some kind of universal subconscious primal memory that we all share: mystery and wonder. The intent of the band, the "x-factor," the whole of the group being greater than the sum of its parts: all of these things combined to deliver what became a mind-blowing lesson for a young sixteen-year-old budding bassist. That lesson was to follow one's heart and to try to be a conduit for not just music but also the energy of life. To be mindful and able to listen to those with whom you are creating music was the key to something so much more than just playing music together. Somehow that night at the helm of all of these forces was a slightly gray haired man who was ripping the guitar to shreds. I can remember thinking that they were rocking more intensely than The Who (my other favorite band still to this day). To me, I had just learned a new lesson in the School of Rock - and no, I wasn't tripping!

3. What would you say is the most significant thing Jerry has given the world?

I think I pretty much covered that in the above two responses but I did think of this: I feel that Garcia's ability to interpret the words of Robert Hunter was a wonderful extension of the great songwriters and lyricists of the older days like Johnny Mercer/Henry Mancini. In addition, Garcia's voice, though never what one would call "sonically mellifluous" always seemed to convey more emotion than that of any other "properly trained" vocalist. Garcia understood the ultimate wonderful connection that makes magic when music is combined with words and then he carried that connection to the listener and conveyed the intent of the song in a memorable package. This is why the Dead were the most archived band of all time and why songs like "Ripple" and "Uncle John's Band" will stick around for generations to come. I wish more modern day musicians would make this connection.

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