Me and the Dead, Part Two

Me and the Dead, Part Two

Written by Jay Jay French

In response to reader jeffstarr who commented on my Dead article, The Rocky Road to Unlimited Devotion” (Issue 114), he asked why I had to dislike the Dead just because I became infatuated with glam rock.

That is a good question.

In my forthcoming book Twisted Business (to be published by RosettaBooks), I go into greater detail but I will use this column to elaborate.

I am not the first musician, when faced with a huge creative sea change, who has made the decision to make a radical musical change.

Think about this: Sinatra wiped out Bing, Elvis wiped out Sinatra, the Beatles wiped out Elvis (and everything else), disco wiped out rock, punk wiped out “corporate rock,” grunge wiped out hair metal and so on and so on.

The point is that if you were a musician who has a career suddenly stopped in its tracks because of an enormous sociological and commercial sea change, then you are faced with a choice: either get on board or tough it out and hope you can still have a career.

A music-loving consumer doesn’t really have to deal with it except that, as your personal taste changes, so go your buying habits.

I know so many musicians whose livelihoods were affected by these kinds of changes that many of them quit the business rather than get on board with whatever trend was happening.

In my case, I was completely invested in the hippie, drug and Dead culture and I regarded my total turnaround from this life as life-saving. This, of course, was a very personal decision. I didn’t feel the need to turn my back on any other of my favorite artists but the Dead were different. It wasn’t just the music, it was the life they and the music represented. It was something that I felt I just had to do to save myself both in terms of the drug lifestyle and the need to make a musical change. The Dead embodied “the past” and to save myself, I had to walk away. Completely.

The Grateful Dead, 1970. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

No one knows what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. As a “celebrity” we are always under a microscope and I am totally aware that fans and non fans alike parse the statements we make.

It goes with the territory.

I responded to this particular question from jeffstarr because I felt that it did need elaboration. Whether my response makes sense is up to the reader. All I can say is that, as explained, I did what I had to do and I have nothing more to add in this regard.

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