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Emory Joseph Hails Garcia and Hunter To Reveal Himself

Emory Joseph may not be a name widely known in jamband circles. His second album should definitely put him on the radar for several reasons — the material he covers, the musicians he uses and the impressive and enchanting final result. Fennario: Songs By Jerry Garcia & Robert Hunter finds Joseph collaborating with Larry Campbell, Soozie Tyrell (E Street Band), T-Bone Wolk (Hall and Oates, SNL Band), Jon Carroll (Mary Chapin Carpenter) and Dennis McDermott (Marc Cohn) with guests David Grisman and Lincoln Schleiffer.

To get to this point Joseph took the very long and winding road of playing in bands while growing up in St. Louis with a stop for a period of time New York where he fell in with the Lone Star Cafrowd at the time the roots revival was taking its baby steps, followed by a lengthy residence in the San Francisco Bay area and a return to the Big Apple. After decades of being a part of music scenes — on stages and in front of them and in the studio — he finally made the leap to record his own work in 2003. Labor & Spirits not only received critical acclaim but also gained him new fans and friends such as Bonnie Raitt ended up covering his originals.

While the Dead’s catalogue has been re-interpreted through numerous acts and genres, listening to Fennario gives it the unthinkable, a refreshing breath of fresh air. Talking with Joseph, it’s obvious that he not only approached the songs with much thought but with a desire to give them their respect. There’s the obvious familiarity to them but that’s taken to another plain of listening experience with its inspired hootenanny-styled reinvention; a naturalness that, when you close your eyes, gives the sensation of the musicians casually playing in your living room.

In a conversation that runs from one subject to another, drifts to off-topic worlds as owning dogs, first record purchases and more, Joseph recalls the original inspiration for Fennario, at a Jerry Garcia Band show when the alignment of voices, instruments, lyrics and arrangement made their lasting impact. “That’s the nexus where Hunter’s lyrics and Hunter’s own musicianship, cause he’s quite a musician, and Jerry’s sense of musicality all came together for a perfect thing.

“I can’t think of a more diverse catalogue. As a matter of fact I don’t mean to get on a soapbox or anything, but I do think that they are America’s most outstanding songwriting team from the perspective of how many different styles they were able to write in, traditionally or by the book. “Dark Star” is definitely as organically perfect for the style that they played it in as “Dire Wolf” is in the style they wrote for that.”

JPG: Why tackle the Garcia/Hunter catalogue for an entire album? I mean, people have done a song or two, but an entire album…

EJ: I love those songs since I was a pretty young kid, 12, 15. I have interpreted them a lot over the years in bands that I’ve had, in bands that played the Grateful Dead music. But it was pretty clear to me that that you really can’t play like the Grateful Dead. You can try to play like them but you can’t play like them. So, you were going to interpret those songs at best. I would try to wander as far away from the Grateful Dead’s arrangements ‘cause it always felt clunky to try to do them. They’re so unique in their sound. It seems like they almost invented a style of music by nature of who was in that band and how they played. To me, the thing about songs is they are really for everyone. It didn’t ever seem like they were untouchable.

There are so many of my friends that for one reason or another never really appreciated that or didn’t enjoy their music. And, yet, because they’re so unique, they’re unmistakable. Those people could pick the Grateful Dead out in three notes. And knowing that, they didn’t care for them, sort of shut down their ears. I know that they had never heard these songs, never heard the quality of the material, never heard the beauty, never heard the profundity, anything that was in there.

I really loved Deadicated (the 1991 Grateful Dead tribute album that featured, among others, Bruce Hornsby and the Range, Elvis Costello, Suzanne Vega, Los Lobos and Jane’s Addiction) but there was something about having to reorient yourself on every song that distracted from the song. I think that’s there’s something steady about a single voice, about it being the same players from track-to-track. That gives the material more ability to shine through. I made a point of making the lyrics and the melodies stars of these productions, even though there’s a lot of great playing on the album. It’s never in competition for the presentation of the work of Garcia and Hunter.

JPG: I agree.

EJ: But I could see how you would ask, ‘Why would you take it on?’ The other thing is it was practical for me, as a second album. My first album got me a lot of things. It got me noticed by my friend, Bonnie Raitt, who cut my songs and we started a friendship that’s delightful, and introduced me to a feeling of being a peer of people that, at my age, I really wanted to feel that. But I didn’t tour it much. My first album, Labor & Spirits, like this album, used a lot of really well-known and pricey session people. So, the thought of getting ‘em out on the road, especially if they are great as these people are, finding replacements was going to be difficult. I just didn’t have the backing. I just wanted to make an album. This album, I thought, ‘Well, gosh, why not release an album that has an audience of its own? See if you can satisfy your own artistic desire to bring that material to light and see if those two desires wouldn’t actually be a practical decision to do for a second album.’

There are times that I’m really glad that I didn’t make a record until as late as I did because I got to be a musicologist and a producer for a long, long time.

JPG: I wanted to go back to something. When you mentioned about playing Grateful Dead tunes before, were you in a Grateful Dead cover band or you just covered a tune here and there?

EJ: We had a band just out of high school that played Allman Brothers, Little Feat, Grateful Dead, J.J. Cale songs. Pretty much that’s what we played. We played out in bars in St. Louis maybe half a dozen times.

We did that for a while and that was short lived, but I did start to incorporate the Garcia/Hunter songs. There was a period after maybe ’85 where I went to as many Garcia and Hunter shows as I could. But I didn’t really see the Grateful Dead much. I never really saw it get huge into the big arenas or screens? Were you part of that? Did you go see a lot of those shows?

JPG: Timing wise, I was one of those that got on the bus in the late ’80s, mostly in the ’90s. I was like, ‘This is something special. I love to travel. I love music. This could work out.’

EJ: I agree. If we would agree to call that liberation. Get to see all that liberation on stage and in the crowd. If you were going to pick one thing that whole deal inspired. Immaculate sense of liberation. Which, that’ll feed back to the songs.

JPG: Stepping for a second, you did some Dead shows but more Garcia and Hunter shows or…?

EJ: I did lots of Dead shows between say 78 and 82 and then it dropped off considerably. I would see the Jerry Garcia Band whenever. I remember clearly there being a period where I could pass on a Dead show, but I couldn’t pass on one of his shows. There was something about him to me. I grew up in a great radio city. I loved everything from the Hillbilly nonsense on “Hee Haw” to really deep soul that we were getting here on the radio in St. Louis.

There weren’t a lot of white guys out there that I could hear without being conscious of it that were as soulful as Jerry Garcia, but weren’t trying to be black. I knew a lot of guys that were trying to be blues artists, like white blues artists and were copping a sound. It never really worked for me, although, I’m sure I did it. I have recordings of myself at 16 and 17 with bands and it’s almost ugly how much I wanted to sound like Al Green or whoever. In the end you start looking for authenticity and soulfulness. I thought Garcia’s appreciation of all that r&b music that he loved, the obvious breadth of his interests was showing up in his music. There were other guys. James Taylor’s like that. People think about James Taylor as a balladeer, but some of his records are soulful as hell. There’s a record, "In the Pocket," where he cut Bobby Womack’s "Woman’s Gotta Have It." Just deeply soulful music, but not trying to sound black and that was a real relief, really informative thing for me to recognize these guys that had that amount of soul, but didn’t try to put on anything. I guess in Garcia’s favor it really helped.

JPG: Looking at the Song-by-Song Project Notes in the press kit, the depth of your listening and analyzing the material gives the impression that this project wasn’t remotely thrown together.

EJ: The music means so much to so many people that I was going to put an extra layer of respect behind the approach. You can’t imagine how difficult it was to get down to 12 songs. There were so many songs that I wanted to record, like "Brokedown Palace," but what are you going to do different or better than that? There wasn’t going to be no new setting that that song was going to be in that was going to be any different or better. That was a perfect song. It was already done perfectly.

There were songs like "Mason’s Children"...you can imagine all the possibilities for that song. "Althea" would make an amazing reggae song but, first of all, it didn’t fall into the take that I had on making this a quintessential American album. Secondly, I couldn’t get it out of my head, every time I’ve ever tried that the similarity reminds me of "Lucille" off [Frank Zappa’s] "Joe’s Garage."

Some of these songs, I think that there was a presumption that there was going to be a studio album for some of these cuts that were recorded on Europe ’72 and that never happened. So in some cases, I thought that gives me an opening to put a studio track down. In the case of "Sugaree" and "Black Peter," I heard something in the tempo that I, maybe, had a little bit more leeway as an indie artist that wasn’t necessarily trying to do something for radio. Maybe that would bring something new out of the song.

This project was such a great thing for me musically — as a singer to be able to sing and not be birthing songs of my own, as a producer and an arranger to have such an amazing group of musicians. I wanted people to consider that I did show some range and blah, blah, blah as a singer, but the thing that really most impressed me as a producer was working with this group of musicians and being able to, in a single five day period, cover so much music and get it down to so much intricate detail without overdubbing very much at all. That’s really such a satisfying thing where you get people who can really play in a room intimate with each other, but that you have the recording facility to capture it and capture the tones that are coming out. It was just great fun. The rest of it was just about being thoughtful and respectful and staying in touch with Alan Trist at Ice Nine (the Grateful Dead’s publishing arm; Trist has been a longtime associate of the Dead and helped put together the Egypt ’78 gigs).

JPG: With it recorded in a five days, did you send the musicians demos or give an explanation of where you wanted to go with the songs, so that when they got in the studio they could jump right in and you’re not playing around with 15 different versions of "Tennessee Jed?"

EJ: That’s a great question. Other than the drummer, Dennis McDermott, I know all these players really well. I’ve known Larry Campbell, to be able to call him and have chatted with him over the years, since the early 80’s. When I was really young, I lived just down the street from the Lone Star CafThat was the greatest scene in America that I could think of for me. The bands that came through there every single night of the week and the bands that played from New York that were there during this big Americana, Cajun and country revival that was happening there was just astounding. So, Soozie Tyrell had a band called Great Balls of Fire and Lincoln Schleiffer played in that band. He’s the bass player that guested on "Misson in the Rain." I met all these guys through Lincoln. I had bands when I was 21 where I was doing stuff that we talked about earlier — Lowell George songs, J. J. Cale songs, Toots and the Maytals songs, Leon Russell songs. They thought it was kind of neat that somebody that age would be calling those tunes. I’ve known Larry for a long, actually longer including with Lincoln, longer than I’ve known T-Bone and John.

JPG: Were you playing the Lone Star Cafr were you seeing shows all the time and meeting people?

EJ: I think I turned 21 in New York. I was a kid that was there all the time. Soozie remembers me as being around and listening and playing. [Legendary songwriter] Doc Pomus used to have lunch there every day. So, go hang around and talk to Doc Pomus. Met Albert Collins there. He was a friend that was just super lovely, lovely man that was great to me. Whenever he was in town, I would show up in the afternoon and hang out with him at the Lone Star. Other than being onstage with Albert Collins, I think I sang with Wilson Pickett once there.

I was very, and this is true for me now, even though I have a big personality and a big voice and I definitely have a sense of myself in music, I’m also a little shy because I really, really, really admire and am still a huge fan of the people I admire. When Bonnie [Raitt] and I first sat down over the bulk of my material, she heard my record and she loved "Trinkets" right off the bat and she said she knew that was the first song that was going to be on her album, Souls Alike. When she saw just how much material I’ve written over the years, she had a laugh with me about how, I think the way she put it was, Oh, I get you. You didn’t make records in your 20s because you were afraid of being accused of being derivative of people that no one had ever heard of before.’ That was really kind of the truth. I really was in awe of people and I didn’t really recognize my own buoyancy for years because I was just so respectful of people whose music I appreciated. And now that cat’s been let out of the bag. I know that my material is, I don’t want to say I know that it is as good as…I know the value of my own material. I’ve seen its place now. I’ve seen the way it holds up. Because of that, I can do a record like Fennario and immerse myself completely as a singer and producer and an artist, and not have it be overly in adoration mode or detrimentally having disregard for my music.

It seemed like the right time for me, having been a little over 10 years after Jerry passed and the Grateful Dead completely not intending to play together as a group any more. It was a good time to chronicle both my appreciation for those songs and for the world that will never get to hear the phenomenon that was the Grateful Dead being fueled by that amazing catalogue of songs.

Now, T-Bone and John and Duke Levine were on my first record including Soozie. In that process we got to know each other pretty well. I like people a lot and I like to stay in touch and I like the phone. So we’ve been in touch a lot. It was more that I knew where they come from musically. I knew what my experience was and I knew from the records that I’ve heard them play on and the records that we talked about that we loved, where they were. There wasn’t a ton of pre-production, mostly take some notes on what I wanted to see. Some of them, I had really clear ideas — "Sugaree," "Ramble On Rose." But it was more about the feel and the tempos and the styles than it was specifics like intros and when we were going to cut back.

In one case, I thought that I wanted to record "Loose Lucy" like Little Richard. (sings it) Really old rockin’...

JPG: That would have been really interesting.

EJ: And it would have worked perfectly. (sings it again). Could have really done it super, super ass Jerry Lee Lewis crazy cool, but it the middle of that song I slipped and started singing "Tennessee Jed" to it. Just in that second, I went, ‘Whoa, that would be cool.’ And that went out the window. We used that beat. It didn’t go as seriously rock and roll as that. We switched over when we started doing "Tennessee Jed." A lot of room for magic to happen. And I’m also really open to hearing suggestions from players as great as that.

JPG: In your notes on the songs you mention "Loose Lucy" as “sounds like Ry Cooder, Levon and the Hawks, Doug Sahm, the Time Warp.” Is that something that you would throw to them? ‘The mood I’m looking for on "Brown-Eyed Women" is Old and in the Way meets Doc Watson and the Knotting Hillbillies.’

EJ: No, I think they turned out that way. I would go in there and I would tell them ‘This is what I have mind.’ And then if I have a guitar figure like on "Loose Lucy," I have that guitar figure in mind. I actually sang that guitar figure to Larry and then went up and played it for him. In one of the few moments that I can remember actually needing to show anybody anything. Having that vernacular and being able to say, I want to do this figure, but I want to do this sort of loose, but I want it to be based around this figure.

That’s the way a lot of them happened. The fiddle solo on "It Must Have Been The Roses." Larry was playing pedal steel when we cut the track. I sang where the fiddle part would go. They would get that feeling that there’s a fiddle solo in there. That was one of the times when the melodies I chose for the fiddle solo, what Larry played, was me. He said, I really dig what you sing, I’m going to play that.’ That’s the organic nature of how this record was made. There’s an overall feeling and a structure and then there’s an attempt made and then we worked it out — too fast, too slow, let’s double up the drums or let’s cut the drums in half.’ We were moving fast. Sometimes we’d do a take and we’d tweak that a little bit and then maybe try something completely different and then off we’d go and we’d overdub and we’d be done and moving on to the next song. Do one, do another one, fix it, do a third one, do your overdubs. Move on to the next song.

JPG: It has a very loose feel to it. It doesn’t sound overproduced, but it doesn’t sound like it crashes and reforms, if you will.

EJ: Essentially, it’s about really, really, really amazing musicians coming and bringing all the tools that they might need to catch an organic, rootsy, American album. If you had seen just the luxury of the instruments that we had there. It was almost obscene.

JPG: Where was it recorded?

EJ: It’s a huge room in New York called, actually it’s called Legacy now, but it was Right Track then…just all the guitars that were brought. T-Bone Wolk is a bass player, but he brought probably six other instruments. That’s just who he is. John [Carroll] plays guitar as well as anybody. John plays drums as well as anybody. T-Bone plays piano really well. Larry plays everything. When you’re working with Larry and Duke [Levine] and T-Bone and John and Denny and Soozie and Lincoln and people like that, there really is no ceiling on what you can do. The question is about having the vision, I guess; just bring in enough structure and enough looseness that some magic can happen.

I know a lot of musicians right now that have been working on records for a while that are basically going back in and cutting on Pro Tools a lot. They add a little bit here and they add a little bit there. They catch some rhythm tracks. They move on. To be able to actually have the luxury of going in and getting it all at the same time in a huge room with everybody playing at once. Ever since I heard Ray Charles did it that way, that’s the way I wanted to make records. Put the horn section over there. Throw up the ribbon mike and record ‘em at the same time. Knowing that James Brown could be on the road working tunes out and stop off and record his records in a day. I mean, that kind of stuff makes me so beautifully high to think about. That’s the kind of record I wanted “Fennario” to be. This is not the type of record that you’d sit there and write arrangements and deliver to a band. It’s so American. I keep saying that, but it’s really is. It really seems that that’s one of the things that I had on my mind, more than anything, expose some of the roots of Garcia and Hunter’s musicianship while you’re exposing the song. In the same way, show that all the musicians and myself have the same aesthetic.

JPG: Before we go further, you mentioned the album title Fennario. I know the reference to “Dire Wolf,” but why use that as the title?

EJ: There was a book that the great musicologist Alan Lomax wrote about pre-World War II songwriting. And he had a line in there that said that the word "Fennario" was often used for the name of a fictitious locale. All of them, Dylan, Hunter, read that book. So that’s a pretty common word in a lot of older songs. We heard about it in the ones that we have, Grateful Dead catalogue, the Dylan catalogue… Have you seen the actual art for the CD?

JPG: I just have the advance CD with a color reproduction of what is probably the front cover.

EJ: It’s really a lush piece of art that was done by Jeremy Smith, forwards that notion of Fennario as a fictitious locale, could also be a place in someone’s mind or in somebody’s heart, somebody’s heaven. Given the songs that I chose, there were a lot of locales that were described. So many of these songs are so visual that they might as well be talking about a place called Fennario. It was easy to work back from the title. I think Alan Trist, the publisher for the Garcia/Hunter catalogue, he got it right away. He thought it was a great title. And when they gave me permission to use Jerry and Hunter’s names on the CD that was a big deal. I don’t recall them ever doing that before.

JPG: They must have heard the album and gave it thumbs up.

EJ: He approved the idea of the project. He doesn’t need to approve the idea. He encouraged the idea of the project when he heard how I was doing it and who I was doing it with. But it wasn’t until after he had heard the actual recordings that he was as openly enthusiastic as he was. He couldn’t have been any nicer or more help to us, which was a great thing.

JPG: You mention Robert Hunter. Obviously, you’ve been studying this music for years. Was it better not to have spoken to him before recording "Fennario" because you had this whole world of development as a musicologist’ with experiencing the Grateful Dead’s songs but other songs and music, in general?

EJ: That’s a really good question. I wish I would have had the choice. As eager as I am to please and as much as I like to work with others, I have pretty good sense of myself and I think I knew that it was better for me. The only person I talked to was Alan Trist. The Grateful Dead, even though it would be a flattering forwarding of their brand and I hope a nod of respect towards their legacy as well, they really didn’t have much to do with the specifics of the recording. I, maybe, had thought that I would be running a risk by asking anybody’s opinion. I’m sure that there are a lot of people that are deeply inside that camp that, on a difficult day, could have said something that a person who was easily affected could sway them or deter them or influence them or whatever. And I had already decided that I was going to do it. After the fact, it’s fun to share it, to put it in the hands of Larry Campbell and have him pass it around with his band mates in Phil’s band and they all hear it.

I don’t know if permission’ is the word. I didn’t want to be validated on the idea or deterred or influenced, and I didn’t want to make this a Grateful Dead record in any shape or form. I would love to make music with Hunter. More than anything, I’d like to write some songs with him. And if in the meantime, I was able to hear that he appreciated it, that’s really all that would matter to me. Would I flip if I got a phone call saying he thought it was the greatest thing that had ever been done since chocolate and bread and beer… Sure, but he’d be lying cause it’s not. I just think it’s a really great album.

For me the way we’ve recorded it’s not dated. People can be listening to this record for years in the future and it will hold up as being a good representation of a lot of things, of Garcia and Hunter’s music, of the musicality with these people that I made the record, and of me. And it was really fantastic to be able to let all that loose on songs that you love.

JPG: Referring again to your Project Notes, it also becomes a tribute to American music with all the different styles and elements other artists incorporated. You don’t hide influences, throwing out some names as the Band, Dr. John, Bootsy, Gram Parsons.

EJ: A tribute to obsession. (laughs) I agree. I hope that after all is said and done, this becomes what you just said. It really is an exercise in an artistic attempt to honor and validate and identify and name both in specifics and non-specifics all of this music that we’ve all listened to, including you and everyone else. It’s all extremely important to me and to everyone that I know that does music the way I do music. It wouldn’t do for me to realize that I was singing a little bit like what I hear Levon sound like in my head and not be pleased at that. You know what I mean?

JPG: Is that in some way capturing this moment in time, capturing this tribute to obsession?

EJ: (laughs) I never thought about that.

JPG: Then why not then call it Obsession rather than Fennario?

EJ: It doesn’t implement itself that way. Like none of this stuff is obsessive or compulsive. There’s an arc that I think all of us go through in music, either as listeners or players where that early stuff lays a mark on you. I know people that have the same thing for completely other bands. Bands that I, for one reason or another, haven’t been able to get into, but they have it just like this.

I have my own recipe. To me, I’m a serious cook and I think about this as cooking. You learn how to do classical techniques and then you learn to forget them, and incorporate them into different fusion foods. You learn about your momma’s chicken and your aunt’s chicken and your grandma’s chicken, but they’re all different and they’re all the same. And you learn about the different chefs that have done it over the years. For me, I have my own recipe book. T-Bone has his own recipe book and Larry Campbell has his own recipe book. Where we have commonality, that’s a really great place to start cooking.

JPG: What I was getting at was capturing the moment in time over the course of those five days of recording. Is that why you aren’t touring this record?

EJ: Um, really good question. It’s a very busy band and it’s a very expensive band…

JPG: ...Or even get another group of musicians to support you.

EJ: I don’t want to say never, but I never did this to set myself up as interpreter or as a regular road-scheduled interpreter of the Garcia/Hunter catalogue. I’m working on possibly doing a show in San Francisco and a show in New York with exactly this band augmented by special guests that would cover the overdubbing.

This album, much like my first record, is exactly the way it is because of who’s on it. Exactly. I’m sure that I will play some of these songs in my own shows either with a band or not, but until we can see this band onstage and celebrate Garcia and Hunter with other people that love them in front of an audience that comes together to do just that, I don’t see it as being a tour vehicle. It’s not that I wouldn’t love to do it. At that point, where would you stop? I mean when we do Fennario onstage, we’ll do these songs plus a couple of the songs that didn’t quite make the sessions plus songs that were in the Garcia universe of things that he loved. I’m sure we’ll do “Tore Up” or a Hank Ballard song cause he really liked Hank Ballard.

JPG: Now, your debut came out in 2003. And now this. Two albums in five years, you’ve got some work to do.

EJ:(laughs) I was so completely hard on myself. That’s the one thing that if I was going to give any advice, as if I have any advice to give, we do what we do. Everybody does what they do, plumbers, dentists, ditch diggers, mule shoers. We do what we do. Just having that liberation in ourselves to do what we do and not necessarily have to be worried all the time with what somebody’s going to think or what somebody’s going to say and let the chips fall the way that they do. It’s so important. I mean, I can’t imagine what road you must have taken to become a professional journalist. It takes a lot of courage to find your own voice. It’s gonna be different, but when you’re the right size in the universe and you’re just the size that you are, not smaller than nor bigger than, just the right size. I think your work can really slingshot.

Now that Fennario is actually out, I can’t wait to see what comes next. I hope that if the one thing that people get from this album as far as my own musicality is that I really, really, really have taken care and love for the voice that I have and for my ability to interpret great songwriters. I love being able to play and I love being able to write and produce and blah, blah, blah, but as a singer, for awhile it was the last thing that I wanted to talk about because it was the only thing that I was born with. You get a voice. You can learn how to sing better, but you get the voice that you have. I always had this big ol’ voice and people said, ‘Man, you sing so loud.’ or You sing so great or you sing so blah, blah, blah.’ I really couldn’t take it cause I thought, Well, God I’m taking praise for the one thing that I couldn’t do anything about.’ But now come full circle where I realize that I’ve been appreciated for the other things that I’ve learned how to do and now I can just really love singing. I’m always going to play instruments. I’ve been playing instruments forever. I’m doing a score for a film right now. It’s for a movie by director, Michelle Esrick about Wavy Gravy called Saint Misbehavin’ and because I’ve been producing music over the years, and a musician over the years, I’m able to do the score like a modern score artist using samplers. I do a lot of recording of real instruments. A lot of it being done in a box and I love that too. I love being able to write all different types of music for this film, but there is something really beautiful about singing great songs with a great band and capturing it and being able to fan it out and share with the people, there’s nothing else like it.

JPG: When you’re talking about life and let the chips fall where they may it reminds me of a line from the Dead’s other writing team of Bob Weir/John Perry Barlow from the song “Cassidy” “...Let your life proceed by its own design.”

EJ: You could say of this whole thing that’s around the umbrella of the Grateful Dead. I want to make sure that people know that I recognize in these songs is that the ability to write anthemic songs that aren’t dogmatic is almost beyond the ability, that Hunter had to write all those lyrics and that he and Jerry had the ability to craft these songs that would fit in your mouth at 15 and still at 60. There’s nothing like that. I can’t think of another catalogue. You can’t say that of Pete Townsend’s material. There is a point at which you have become that old fat person that you were railing against. You know what I mean? There is a point where the politics, when you’re at a certain age, are not going to fit. They might be nostalgic, but they will definitely date you. These songs don’t in any way date you.

And when you talk about that Weir/Barlow song. The umbrella that is the Grateful Dead has fueled so many beautiful things for so many beautiful people. The kids that were able to find their own voice and their own sense of themselves by going on the road to hear these musicians, hear these songs. The parents that were, after it was all said and done, appreciate their children for being unique, beautiful people. That actually took a lot of courage for them to go and do that. All of this stuff is such a blessing to us. And for me as a musician to have taken a stake to do Fennario was a little bit of a risk because of that reason. There’s a lot of people that have a lot of opinions about this, therefore, open to anybody’s interpretation of them.

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