Posted by: twotrees | July 10, 2012

WW Jerry Think?

  It being that our son Marshall is a Banana Slug, I couldn’t resist a visit to the newly opened Grateful Dead archives at UCSC.  Known as Dead Central, this relatively small annex to the McHenry Library is a nice but unremarkable historic tour of the phenomenon that was the Grateful Dead.

What’s there was a mix of some of the items that represented the band, it’s touring and its fans.  Letters to and from the band, posters, concert photos and some original lyrics and art from a variety of people, the displays showed only 1% of the entire archive.  There’s even someone’s PhD. dissertation thesis entitled “A Qualitative Examination of the Ritual Structure and the Spiritual Nature of the Grateful Dead Experience.”  Yes, certainly…

What’s nice is that you get a glimpse of what the heck the Dead were all about.  Some song lyrics and images brings back good memories…

What’s clearly missing is any sonic representation of the band – it’s dead silent in there.  No actual instruments accentuate the setting (only a photograph of Jerry’s guitar) but not one note of sound, of course the reason why the band was so revered.  Also lacking is a more complete understanding of the cultural side of the fans, many of whom traveled with the band to an extent not seen before or since the period.

Perhaps more than any other musical group, the Dead are difficult to put in words or even pictures, you just had to be there to understand.  And that’s why so many people were there.  Over the years, through thousands of concerts, the band was interesting in a number of ways:  their playlists were constantly evolving, leaving fans to wonder what music they might here on any given night; their shows were often marathons of jam music that twisted and turned into songs after ten minute space jams that allowed the band to explore and the fans to whirl until they somehow came together on a downbeat towards the next recognizable melody; they allowed people to record the concert, unlike today’s concert situations that confiscate cell phones for having taken a photo of some bands on stage.

Let’s call the archive’s effort a start and like so many starts; may it find its wind further on down the road.



  1. I havenˇt checked in here for some time as I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess Iˇll add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

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