Several readers asked what I have against the Grateful Dead.

Let me explain. It’s not really so much that I don’t want to hear them, it’s that I simply don’t. My brain just blocks the music automatically. You see, long long ago I lived in a group house – a house collectively leased by a group of college students. (This was a cheap off-campus arrangement, not a condition of parole or anything of the like. I clarify that simply because the term “group house” has different connotations in different places).

I had 5-6 roommates at any given time. Most of them were Deadheads. Most of them liked to listen to the Dead. All the time. I worked nights sometimes and would often get up in the early afternoon to find everyone had gone to work or school, but they’d all left their cassette players on in their rooms. What’s a cassette player? Ask your parents.

This means that while I was sleeping, my brain was being accosted by not one or two, but up to five different Dead shows. Simultaneously. To this day, even if I consciously listen to the Dead, the songs don’t sound right unless you’re mashing 3 or 4 of them together. If you’d like to replicate this experience, go to the Internet Archive’s Live Music Archive for the Grateful Dead. Borrow 4 or 5 laptops if you need, and play a different show in every room of your house. Turn them all up loud. Better still, also choose the low-fi stream option. Now, go to bed. Report back to me in the morning. Then, do this for about 8 more months.

That’s the short-form of the story. When I originally posted about this I remember linking to Mark Weingarten’s piece in Slate, “A Long, Staid Trip-How Deadheads ruined the Grateful Dead,” but I’ll be damned if I can remember how I got from point A to point B. It’s an interesting opinion piece, so I’m going to link it again, just for the hell of it.

Please clap.

One Thought on “Grateful Dead

  1. I’ve never really hated the Dead (I love typin that as a sentence tho) – but I will admit to being somewhat “meh” about em. It doesn’t much help that I can only think of about 2 of their songs that I actually know melody and (a few) words to. It’s true for me too that I have much more of a history with Deadhead friends/aquaintences than I do with the Dead and their music – and oddly, I think most of those people could have followed any band, as long as the social aspect (and drugs) were there. Hmmm. Now that I think of it most of those Dead tapes sound like mashups anyhow. Wonder if you could tell if they were…

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