Monday, August 20, 2012

Open the Door Richard - My Dead Head Friend P (continued)

Now, the Deadhead reference. 

For the uninitiated, Deadhead is the name for the die-hard Grateful Dead fans, the ones who travelled across country to see them, who'd go to all of the shows in whatever town they were in because each show was different, who'd meet before and after shows to share drugs and experiences and bootlegs, which weren't quite bootlegs because the GD allowed fans to plug into the soundboard so they could get good copies of their live shows.

Q: What did one Deadhead say to the other, when the drugs wore off?
A: "This music sucks, man!"

There are parallels between what he does and what I do.  I don't think P would deny his Deadheadishness.  But when we first met, when I was 25 or so, I dropped by his house and he was talking about the Grateful Dead.  I professed to not knowing a lot about them ~ they were not exactly mainstream rock at the time, in spite of Woodstock and points beyond.  P pulled out a wooden box that originally contained three bottles of wine.  I recognised the box: the company we worked for (where we met) gave them to employees as a holiday gift.

He looked at me and said "I'm not a Deadhead" and then he opened the box.  The bottles that originally graced the box were separated by wooden dividers.  But the wine was gone and each segment, serendipitously, was exactly the width of a cassette tape in a box.  The box was stuffed with tapes.  He proceeded to pull out several "must hear" tapes and without fumbling he grabbed the show from this night or this month or this venue and told me exactly which songs I had to listen to.

I've become a fan, but I'm not a deadhead.  I think the thing that separates us is, I can't stand the jams.  When I have XM, I skip around but always stop at the Dead station.  But I never chased after them, I skipped the concert scene, and always have preferred music to buy if I'm in the mood to buy music.  AllSongsBy is a great site ~ pick an artist and get a boatload of songs ~ but he'd probably stick to the Dead and Phil Lesh and Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia and maybe Phish while I'd listen to the Dead, sure, but probably spend more time on The Who and Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey et al and then wander over to Dave Van Ronk or Talking Heads or Dan Bern or Tom Paxton or Pink Floyd.

Anyway, if I called him a deadhead today, he would deny it no longer.  There are Dead cover bands which do a full show ("note-for-note," they claim).  We went to one and after two or three notes (literally) he told me where the show was, and what songs we'd be hearing in order.  He wasn't sure which night the show was, but narrowed it down to a couple.  It was like listening to Bobby Fischer reciting a game he played twenty years earlier.  So I dare him to deny claim to the Deadhead title.

Back when he pulled out the tapes, if I showed him my meager collection of clothes, or showed him some of the poor Polaroids I had taken, I would have surely said "I'm not a transvestite."  But if I had some clothing money (and the nerve) I would have bought women's clothing.

Now, I'd quibble about the word (I don't think "crossdresser" was in anyone's vocabulary then) but I wouldn't deny it.

When I asked him "what would you do if someone said 'you can no longer listen to the Grateful Dead?'" without hesitation he replied "I'd kill him."

I've thought about it before: if someone said "new law.  You have to choose, male or female full time," I'd toss my male stuff out in an instant.

At about the same time I post this, I'm going to send him a long e-mail about this analogy.  I'll post any interesting exchange.  As I said, pure civilian.

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff on the music. My old college room mate was a big Dave Van Ronk fan. You hardly ever hear his name. I liked two of his followers Dylan and Phil Ochs even more than Van Ronk (who shares our Queens roots). I like The Who and The Dead about the same. My favorite group, however, was 'The Band'. On my Pandora I have The Band, The Beatles, Paul Simon, John Fogarty and Billy Joel with other artists (such as THe Who, Stones, Dead, Meatloaf, etc.) floating in and out of the mix depending on my mood.

    We do tend to 'quibble' about words. Just like being a 'deadhead' only partially defines your friend the same goes for the many words that are used to try to catagorize those of us who cross dress. I cross dress. For sure the term cross dresser applies as does the term tranny or transvestite. For others who cross dress there may be other terms that more accurately reflect things.



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