Jerry Garcia, A Legacy?
Unfortunately, many years have passed since Jerry Garcia engaged in the art of music making. I've never known of another electric guitarist who could incorporate without clear and cut demarcations the many multitudes of rock and roll, folk, jazz, blues, bluegrass, country, explorational real time composition, sustain induced psychedelic developments Be it partially safe to say also that I've yet to know of another electric guitarist whose playing was either loved or scorned to the extent that his was. Throughout my life as a Dead fan and follower of Jerry Garcia and of his various musical projects, I remember verbal battles with musicians who found JG's playing less enlightening than I and often my comments turned into vicious polemics defending the Grateful Dead' artistic integrity. Granted, JG did have many obvious musical hurdles during performances and didn't exhibit a typical so called pristine guitar playing technique but first and foremost consider that he played mainly rock and popular music (to make a point), on mainly an electric guitar, with a pick and 4 fingers, using electronic components on stages inside theaters, OK get real! Does Hiram Bullock posses the same technical polish as Julian Bream? The answer to that is a resounding no, neither did Jimi Hendrix and it's really of no consequence anyhow. What I very much loved about Jerry Garcia was that he placed musicality before entertainment and he took on a sense of risk, even danger, in order to help elevate the other playing musicians around him. Yes, Jerry Garcia's playing often ran hot and cold but when his playing ran hot, the rest of the Grateful Dead or Jerry Garcia Band would rise to a whole new level and when he ran cold, it had tenuous effect on the other participating musicians. I have to attribute Jerry Garcia's heightened level of ensemble cooperation to the way he listened intently with creative imagination, to his sensitive and tasteful playing, to his getting out of the way when the band needed space and to the degree of his vast musical knowledge that he gave away freely whenever the opportunity presented itself. From a subjective perspective while disregarding controversy, the music and persona of the Grateful Dead and of Jerry Garcia touched an enormous fan base which exhibited a degree of loyalty and dedication beyond compare. Many of the kids that I grew up with disliked the Grateful Dead and I would make the radical assumption that they still do. I don't mind bucking the trends and I'll even take a little pride in my prophetic wisdoms. How about you??