8-18 media: Collin’s guide to the Grateful Dead

By Collin Gallion

8-18 Media

Special to the Journal

From 1965 to 1995, playing over 2,000 shows in their 30 year history, and accumulating close to $390 million in live performances, albums, and merchandise, the Grateful Dead has been argued as being one of, if not, the greatest rock and roll band in the history of music. With their constantly changing style of music, their unconventional playing skills, and their poetic songwriting, it’s no wonder why a band that is almost 60 years old can still blow the roof off of any stadium or theater. And of course, they’ve always been supported by arguably the biggest fan base in the world: the Deadheads.

I, myself, am a Deadhead. I’ve been listening to the Grateful Dead since I was about 14 or so. However, I never truly understood or appreciated their music until this year. For years, I enjoyed the Grateful Dead through more of their bigger songs like “Touch of Grey,” and “Truckin’.” While they’re incredible songs, they didn’t truly represent what the Grateful Dead truly was. With a band like the Grateful Dead, you have to dig through everything to find what you’re really looking for. And dear readers, I have dug, and dug, and dug, and dug until there was nothing left to dig for, and was during that time of digging and finding something I needed that I gained a better appreciation for the Grateful Dead

You see, I believe that music has something of a healing ability; the idea that the right music by the right artist can help someone in their darkest hours. This was very much the case for me. My junior year of high school was not a happy one, and a year I’d rather not talk about, since all it does is just open up old wounds. During this time, I was struggling to find something to keep me from going nuts, and during those times were when the Dead was on. During one such moment I’d rather not describe, I drove to school while listening to “Ripple” on repeat, a song I had never listened to before I played it. I cried throughout the whole drive, not because it was a sad song, but because it was a song about finding comfort during dark times. It brought me a sense of comfort I had been desperately searching for, and there it was. If you ever wonder why some people become Deadheads, that’s why. There is a moment in every Deadhead’s life where the Dead was there to cut them from their nooses. Because of this feeling of being saved by the music, we dedicate ourselves to the artist. In this case, it’s the Grateful Dead.

The Grateful Dead is what I refer to as feel good music; the kind that doesn’t have a solid state or meaning, and is just there like a spiritual guide in a way. There’s a reason why I say “Scarlet Begonias” is my all time favorite Grateful Dead song, and it’s because of this bridge:

“Well I ain’t often, but I’ve never been wrong. It seldom turns out the way it does in the song. Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”

This very bridge describes the meaning and the purpose of the Grateful Dead and their music; they may not be conventional or normal, but they’re not entirely alien orsinister. All they want to do is to give the listener a different perspective on life and its many fluttering qualities. This is why we’re Deadheads, because we’ve been given a different perspective on life; a more positive one about acceptance and enjoying the life we’re given and making the best out of it.

Now that I got my feelings out of the way, let me explain what’s going to be happening for the next few columns. I’m going to be giving you, the reader, a digestible and informative guide to the Grateful Dead. I will be explaining and discussing the history of the band, its members, the different eras of the band’s life, their albums, songs, and a few other odds and ends to sweeten the pot.

EDITORS NOTE: Written by: Collin Gallion, 17, a senior at Negaunee High School. He enjoys writing, playing music, and talking about pop culture with his friends.


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