Sunday, May 28, 2023

Melts in your mind, not in your hand.

People ask me if I have seen Dead & Co. I have not and would not, it is just not my bag. If you like them, beautiful. I can usually only listen to a song from this band for a few seconds on the radio before my brain tells me that something is very wrong and I shut it right off.

John Mayer is a fine guitarist, superb even. Love his solo stuff. But when I hear him trying to sing or play a Jerry part or fill what does it sound like? How can I describe it? Let's talk about chewing gum or rather bubble gum.

Work with me for a second, imagine that Jerry Garcia could blow the best bubble gum bubbles in the world, the thinnest, most shimmering, sublime, rainbow colored bubbles you could ever imagine. Translucent, psychedelic orbs that glistened in the sun and launched out of his pursed lips and off his guitar and lifted right off and magically sailed into the ether.

John Mayer blows a Grateful Dead bubble and it is a heavy opaque blob that clumsily crashes on his foot. Even with his virtuosity and best intentions. How does the song go? Gravity.

It is not just John, of course. Many have tried to fill Jerry's shoes, no one has come close. Can't be done.

You can't wear somebody else's pajamas or sing their songs and capture the genius of the initial creator. Elvis had the best voice in the world and he came close but he couldn't do it. 

Eva Cassidy could but she was an angel sent from the heavens for a very limited run. She made everything her own. As hard as he tries, Mayer is wearing somebody else's pajamas. Nobody has been able to follow Jerry. Because the ethos of the music came from deep inside his core and it was tempered in holy fire.

I like to listen to the dead from 1968, 69, 73, 74, 76, 77, 78 and 91. Hard for me to grok anything post Keith and pre Bruce. But that is just me. The Grateful Dead were a band that featured one of the most brilliant bass players in the world, Phil Lesh. He does not play with Dead & Co., never has. And let's face it, Weir's voice is now shot. Age, it happens to all of us.

People who extol the virtues of this current band probably never heard much if any of the original.  But they are fooling themselves if they think this Dead & Co. stuff comes even close.

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