Reflections: Jerry Garcia’s Life and Legacy (Keller Williams, Jackie Greene, Marc Brownstein…)
Over the next 9 days between the anniversary of Jerry’s birth on August 1, 1942 through his untimely death on August 9, 1995, we’re going to run a series of artists’ commentaries on the life and legacy of Jerry Garcia. Our first six appear below. Additional Reflections appear today on Relix.com.
I would say that Jerry’s impact on me is quite broad and his influence on my music is significant. Not only the music of which his guitar phrasing is hard for me to avoid in my own playing. Or in his vocal style that my brain began to absorb in my late teens which I feel is the peak age of brain absorption. The vulnerability in his voice made me believe that he and I understood each other, and that we were on the same trip even though we never met. But his love of playing live and feeling the energy of an audience is where I feel we are now most connected.
Stand out shows, for me, were The Warlocks Hampton shows in ‘89, as well as the Alpine Valley shows that year. The “Standing on the Moon” from Alpine Valley is quite memorable.
My favorite songs would be “Bird Song,” “Don’t Let Go” and the cover of “So What He Did” with the Grisman Band. Ask me tomorrow and I will name three different songs—there are so many that are THAT good. These are just what I’m thinking about today.
REED MATHIS (TEA LEAF GREEN)
One of the marks of a true original is the amount of imitators that follow in the wake. One of the other marks of a true original is that none of the imitators ever come close. I/we are so blessed that an artist like Jerry came along at the right time to become a star so we could all hear and celebrate the music that the universe needed to make through him! How many great artists don’t get that kind of platform? Thank you, Jerry! Still echoing….
Like Dylan and the Stones, the Grateful Dead’s impact on music and culture is incalculable. Jerry Garcia was one of the most gifted artists the world has ever known. He possessed the unique ability to play and sing his music with an honest and true spirit that still rings true to this day. I believe that’s what attracts me the most to his songs—his spirit.
As a writing duo, the Garcia/Hunter team ranks up there with Page/Plant, Lennon/McCartney and Leiber/Stoller. They created some truly timeless songs.
Personally, I feel that many of my songs come from the same fundamental place. The music of the Grateful Dead has been a welcome influence in my life and work. It’s hard to choose a favorite Jerry song. There are literally dozens I could name as favorites. For now, I’ll say “Sugaree.” It’s mesmerizing every time I hear it.
When I think of Jerry Garcia I get a big smile! The songs that he sang with such conviction along with his band mates in the Grateful Dead, brought a 60s generation together and kept transcending generations on and on! They should send Workingman’s Dead to the moon!
I was watching Sting open up for the Dead at Rich Stadium in Buffalo back in the early nineties. It made no sense to me how such a huge superstar was playing to an empty stadium. Then, all of a sudden, I hear a cheer and the whole place fills up and I ask the guy next to me what’s going on. He says, “It’s Jerry, he’s about to come out and sit in with Sting.” Low and behold, there he is, larger than life, right there, magically and instantly filling a stadium up with happy dancing heads. It was amazing. To this day I am still amazed at how 80k people knew exactly when and where they needed to be.