Death Is Not The End, Part 4: 

Help On The Way

The only trail the Grateful Dead ever sought to blaze was the simplest one ever: get back to the roots of what American music is, maybe the only country with so many differing forms of indigenous musics, be it bluegrass, blues, country, folk, gospel, jazz, psychedelic or rock and roll. All these musics may have had THEIR roots in other countries and cultures, but when America got done with them, they had changed just enough to warrant being considered modern. Welcome to antiquity in a modern context. This is what the Grateful Dead aspired to: hurdle all pigeonholing barriers preventing cross-pollination of said genres and in the wake of the renaissance, at the threshold of the new Dark Ages, try and raise the appreciation of music, perhaps the only truly sacred thing we have left, as well as consciousness, interconnectedness and freedom at the same time. A humble gesture, but a gesture nonetheless. This assessment, however, can only be said in retrospect. Like Dylan, like Lennon, like any true voice of freedom willing to be a spiritual warrior, these things are never plotted, charted or scoped out like a Ross Perot pie-graph. Freedom doesn't work that way. What the Dead tried to illustrate was that mystery is only seen as chaos by those who are not truly free, and that creativity is not based on material or intellectual security.

Security was what both Cobain and Garcia were about, but the kind that is essential for being a well-rounded person: emotional security, not the physical or ideological security that was the foundation of the rampantly materialistic culture that spawned them. The post W.W.II trauma of paranoia shared by all of Western culture was a mental security founded on materialism thrown into overdrive, ostensibly because of the economic upheaval and topographic nightmare that became of the war. What the babyboomers were rebelling about was the price of restoking the Western standard of living at whatever cost after the economic devastation of World War II which resulted in the exploitation of less technologically advanced societies, the decline of human decency, the death of true intimacy, the lack of care and the ridicule of warmth as the profit motive and the emphasis on competition superseded everything else. "Does anybody remember laughter?" Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin used to ask during the live version of "Stairway To Heaven." Anyone with a heart and a soul still intact who has tried living in what passes for the real world in Western society at the end of the second millennium knows that there's really no difference between the law of the jungle and straight society, where romance is a manipulative game, employment a form of political slavery, and love seen as a ideological weakness.


Death Is Not The End, Part 5:

Blues for Allah