I am not a Deadhead. But I am on my way. Actually, I feel like I must be in an enviable position. Here I am in the midst of my 44th trip around the sun and I am still becoming familiar with the nooks and crannies of the band's music, of which there are many. Legendarily so. I get to discover all my favorite versions and jams. It's mostly all ahead of me.
In 2019, I felt like I had to pump the brakes on the music I felt like I was settling into as a listener. So I put the Dead on the back burner. They remained a part of the musical mix around here, but at a low, low simmer. I wanted to focus on new stuff and music by women and people of color. And I wanted to make sure I was getting into the Dead for the right reason: because the music is undeniable to me. So I took a little break from full immersion last year. Now that it's a new year, I feel emboldened to get freaky as fuck with Dead again!
The same is true of the band Ween. I've been into their music a little longer than I've been into the Dead. I am definitely a Child of the Boognish and enjoy vacationing in Brown Town. I'm not an all-out Weenie, but I'm getting there. I kept Ween at arm's length in 2019, as well. They too have roared back into my life. And it's been glorious, friends!Become a Patron!
Freaks & Flags
I love where my life has taken me. Things are good. Super good. Great, in fact. I'm a little older than I'd like to be, but I really can't complain. I'm living out my dreams and living pretty comfortably, in general. I get to spend my life with my all-time number-one sweetie. We're about to buy a house together. I am reaching new levels in my craft and my creativity.
I am also feeling the need to keep shit weird. I'm experiencing some internal Gen-X spikiness about "selling out" and becoming "the man" and all that bullshit. I feel like I need to prove to myself that I can keep it real. That I can continue to fly my freak flag, even as I check more and more boxes on the list of things required to be a responsible adult.
Ween and the Grateful Dead keep me in the weird place. It's the place I need to be if I want to keep my creative juices flowing. So I'm going to stay here for a while and just enjoy it. I may even stay forever. Of course, I will continue to listen to new music and the artistry of people who aren't white dudes like me; that's essential to me, too, now. But I feel strongly about being a link in a chain that also includes Gener, Deaner, Jerry, Bobby, Phil, Bill, Pigpen, Mickey, Donna, Keith, Tom, Brent, Bruce and all them. So I'm going to honor that shit.
The music of Ween and the Grateful Dead just seems to be in the air anyway. At least to me. And maybe it's just the air between my ears. But it's in there. Almost all the time, even when I'm not putting it there deliberately. People are talking about Ween and the Grateful Dead on the podcasts I listen to. The music is coming out of car windows. It's soundtracking films and television shows. The words and phrases being used by the people around me seem to be informed by the lyrical text generated by these two classic weirdo bands.
The music is a thread I must pull into the braid of my life. Expand to include it. Follow its energy. Use its momentum to help me tell my story and connect with like-minded folks.
With that in mind, I've started adding Ween and Grateful Dead songs to my repertoire. Yeah, I'm still going to pull out the Rick Astley from time to time, but I just want to play music that means something to me. I want to play music that tells people who I am and what I'm about; to give context to the songs I've written. Stuff like that.
What is your relationship, if any, to these two bands? I'd love to know all about it. Especially if you have live-concert experiences to share.
In the meantime, I'll be over here listening to all the Dick's Picks and trying to decide if I prefer the raw sounds of Pure Guava or the polish of La Cucaracha before eventually realizing that I just love it all.