Wednesday, June 19, 2013

30 Day Song Challenge (The Sequel), Day 19: A Song You Used To Love But Have Now Outgrown

For a few years in my 20's, I dated and lived with a Deadhead.  And I'm not talking about some amateur, weekends-and-summers only, tie-dyed, wake-and-bake, jam-band fan.  I'm talking about a Genuine True Believer.  He had whole cases of cassette-tape bootlegs from Grateful Dead concerts going back more than twenty years.  He was in touch with the deeper, transcendent even, spiritual meaning of every word that ever passed Jerry Garcia's furry lips.  He could listen for hours on end to their music, could pick out every last nuance of their improvisations, and could explain it a kind of endless-- and seemingly aimless-- detail that very closely approximated the structure of the music itself.  

Before we got together, I hadn't really spent much time listening to the Grateful Dead.  I knew the handful of songs that everyone knows just by virtue of cultural osmosis, but I generally thought of the Grateful Dead more as a social category than a band.  I had been to a Dead concert, one of the very last ones Jerry Garcia played before he died in the summer of '95 in fact, but that experience didn't make me a convert.  Mostly, there was just too much about the Dead aesthetic that ran contrary to my tastes.  I'm not a fan of jam-bands or wandering improvisational music.  I was never much of a pothead.  I found tie-dye shirts, hemp/corduroy skirts, Jamaican tams and Baha pullovers to be too colorful and too busy.  I hated the smell of patchouli and I liked to bathe.  In sum, it just wasn't my scene.

But I listened to their music-- A LOT-- for those couple of years that I was shacked up with my lovable Deadhead and, despite myself, a couple of songs wormed their way into my favor and lodged themselves there.  The one that stands out from the others is this one, "Liberty," a pretty late song in the long, strange trip of the Grateful Dead.  First played in 1993, it was only performed about 50 times before Garcia died two years later.   But, oh how I used to love this song:

I'm not exactly sure what it means to "outgrow" a song, but I've probably only listened to "Liberty" (or any other Grateful Dead music) a handful of times in the last decade or so.  Just listening to it now, I still love it, I still think it's a fantastic song, but it reminds me of another time, long ago, and another person, the younger me, who I'm not anymore.  In fact, whenever I hear the Grateful Dead these days I find myself immediately transported back to my early-to-mid 20's.  I have a kind of fond nostalgia for those years, but I'm glad I'm not in them anymore.  I'm happy to have outgrown them.

Hell, I'm happy to have survived them.

Nostalgic?  Check out my entry for Day 19 of the 2011 version of the 30 Day Song Challenge.

1 comment:

Marginamia said...

It's funny - just this week I kind of caught myself as someone distinctly different from that girl of my twenties. It was the first time I felt her as someone else. It was also through music that I encountered this split.

Really, really love this post - and happy to have survived our twenties together. I recall we also had a shakin-shit-down-the-leg dance to accompany the hours of Dead jams?