From the far reaches of the back of our closet, I just pulled out a tie-dyed Grateful Dead tour shirt from the summer of 1990. Yes, The Dead. You may not know it from knowing me, but I was into them back in the day. Kinda. You couldn't call my '80s metal-loving ass a Deadhead, but every summer, me and my friends would pack up and head out to the Meadowlands when Jerry and Co. rolled into town.
To be honest, I went to Dead shows more for the experience than anything else. I always loved that sense of community that surrounded the Grateful Dead. That sense of family. That togetherness. I was never a drug user, so the weed and acid never held much appeal for me. I let my friends smoke their bones and drop the "orange creamsicle" or whatever was going around that summer. Although I do remember partaking of a little nitrous from these massive balloons we bought from a guy who had tanks of it in the back of his rented U-Haul. But usually I sat around and drank beer, hung out and took it all in. And played hacky sack. I kicked ass at hacky sack. Still do.
I did score tickets and go in and see the live spectacle that was the Dead on three or four occasions. And I enjoyed it every time. They were always great live. No denying that. I remember someone freaking out as they played Dark Star during one of their sets one year which I guess they hadn't played in years. However, the song I always loved and waited to see them play live was "Not Fade Away". Yes, it was a cover, but it was always the song that bonded the crowd in my opinion. I clearly and fondly remember that whenever the chorus rolled around it was like being part of a big stadium-wide group hug as tens of thousands of Deadheads stood and embraced and swayed and chanted to the groove. Then the music would stop but the crowd kept on singing... "Not fade away"... over and over and over. I still so love their version of it.
So in honor of finding that old Dead shirt, I'm cracking a beer, putting on a live version of "Not Fade Away", and toasting the spirit of good old Jerry G., whose left me with fond memories of many a summer gone by. But one thing I won't be doing is putting on said shirt, which definitely no longer fits after 18 years.