When I was young, I knew a lot of dedicated Dead Heads. The kind that caravanned around the country in VW buses and tie-died shirts. They were some of my favorite people, but they were also the primary reason that I would never give the Dead the time of day.
Dead Heads were as irritating to me as Born-Again Christians. Their obsessive fandom, and their insistence that I just had to “love” the Dead as much as they did, insured only that I would never give the Grateful Dead much of chance, and for years I never did. Funny how much damage missionaries can do to their cause.
Obviously, growing up in the 1960s and 70s, Dead songs were familiar to me. But I did not buy Grateful Dead albums or go to concerts. They were merely another band that I knew but did not care to listen to.
Flash forward a few decades, and O how times have changed.
Now, I listen all the time. What changed? Me, I suppose. In the same way that I had to grow into a love of Jazz, I had to grow into a love of the Grateful Dead. I also had to “get over” the missionary zeal of their fans. And I am so happy that I have.
And now… Now, I am well on my way to being a Dead Head myself. But I will do my best not to be a missionary about it!
Here are some good articles about The Grateful Dead.
If You Get Confused Just Listen to the Music Play
Healing the brain with the Grateful Dead, by Scott Beauchamp
Every Grateful Dead Song Annotated in Hypertext:
Web Project Reveals the Deep Literary Foundations of the Dead’s Lyrics