It’s currently a 19-degree wind chilled morning here in Cleveland, Ohio.. but there are mosquitos on the river. Of course, I mean this in memory of our friend, John Perry Barlow.
Deadheads are no strangers to the notion of loss and mourning. But on the other hand, Deadheads are also no strangers to the gift of imagination. Chances are, as a Deadhead, there is some vivid memory in your head that can be summoned from a specific tune. We owe this to the pioneers of imagination such as Barlow. It takes a true architect of the human creative adventure to be able to provide their audience with just as much creative control over the piece of art as the writer has.. Folks like Barlow and Robert Hunter are just as the monoliths of imagination before them. They have allowed us to join them in their imagination and continue the journey.. Just as Jack Kerouac's influence on an early Jerry.. “I can’t separate who I am now from what I got from Kerouac. I don’t know if I would ever have had the courage or the vision to do something outside with my life, or even suspected the possibilities existed if it weren’t for Kerouac opening those doors.” - Jerry Garcia”
It was the summer of 2017, last year, and my best friend and I sent off for two things 1) More music of the Dead 2) Fun. We charged across the American frontier, past the Rocky Mountains and through the crimson canyons of Utah. Eventually, we would find ourselves in Sin City bickering about what we wanted to hear for the first summer tour opener. We were with our new Deadhead buddies we met at the top of Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park a week before. There we were, four Deadhead schmucks, Olek and I, from Cleveland and Matt and Yim from New Jersey in the heart of America as new companions. To this day, I still can’t fathom the chances of us all reaching the peak of Angel’s Landing together.
It was truly magic. As a Midwestern kid, these were the adventures your soul ached for in the days of childhood play in creeks and hillsides. As we were treated to a beer by a kind stranger in the crowd, the boys hit the stage. The crowd howled and the opening lick to Barlow’s “The Music Never Stopped” sent a shiver down my spine.
“There’s a band out on the highway they’re high stepping into town”
The band on the golden highway had brought my best friend and me to the middle of America’s great desert and my life was in jubilation.
Now, every time I hear that opening lick I am transported to that moment of meeting Matt and Yim atop Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park and our journey to Vegas for the first show of west coast tour.
If this memory sounds familiar, you’re probably a Deadhead. Who else thinks of rainbows when they hear Barlow and Weir’s “Looks like Rain”? If you do, you probably were at SPAC 2017, too. Being a Deadhead, you know the bridge between reality and imagination is fleeting. And that fleeting bridge is the music and lyrics that we hold dear to us. As the lyrics fade into memorization, we may forget the pioneers who provided the divine words of truth to us. The pioneers like Barlow and Hunter who make these available to us. As the tunes of our lifetime paint vivid pictures of our experiences in our minds it’s important to remember the heroes who made this vivid painting a reality. So, as Kerouac opened up those doors for Jerry, Barlow and our Dead friends have similarly opened that precious door for us. Now it's our turn to create that possibility for others. In other words, it's our responsibility to have fun and pass the torch.
In Memory of John Perry Barlow