THOUGHTS ON GARCIA: DON'T LET GO

DAVID GANS


David Gans
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?

I learned so much from Jerry that it's hard to know where to begin. I think the most important lesson, as our mutual friend Henry Kaiser always quotes, is to "serve the music." Jerry was there for the music, not for his own glory.

Because I spent a good portion of my formative years as a musician studying Jerry and the Grateful Dead, you can always hear him peeking around the corners of my songs and my performance. But I also learned from Jerry to be myself, to (in Kesey's words) "take what you can use and let the rest go by." So I compose songs and choose covers that further my personal narrative, and I don't know how to be anyone but myself.

2. What is your fondest memory of Jerry Garcia?

I had many opportunities to hang out with him, and I interviewed him many times for print and radio. He was almost always in a good mood, and in interviews he was unfailingly generous with his time and thoughts.

I think my favorite memory of Jerry was the interviews he gave to Blair Jackson and myself on two nights in the spring of 1981. We talked about so many subjects, and he was so full of positive energy. The full transcripts are in Conversations with the Dead, if you're interested in reading this phenomenally wide-ranging dialogue.

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

Jerry was a great American musician: he listened to everything, and he drew on a multitude of sources in the creation of his own unique book of original compositions. He had a very good ear for songs; you can look at the list of material he covered in his many incarnations and follow those threads into a world of wonders. The expressiveness of his singing and guitar playing, always tasteful and faithful to the song and the story being told, make much of mainstream music seem shallow and gaudy in comparison.

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