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August 9th - We Miss Jerry


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An Elegy for Jerry

By Robert Hunter


(Delivered August 13, 1995

The Jerry Garcia Memorial

Golden Gate Park

San Francisco, California.)


Jerry, my friend,

you've done it again,

even in your silence

the familiar pressure

comes to bear, demanding

I pull words from the air

with only this morning

and part of the afternoon

to compose an ode worthy

of one so particular

about every turn of phrase,

demanding it hit home

in a thousand ways

before making it his own,

and this I can't do alone.

Now that the singer is gone,

where shall I go for the song?

Without your melody and taste

to lend an attitude of grace

a lyric is an orphan thing,

a hive with neither honey's taste

nor power to truly sting.

What choice have I but to dare and

call your muse who thought to rest

out of the thin blue air,

that out of the field of shared time,

a line or two might chance to shine --

As ever when we called,

in hope if not in words,

the muse descends.

How should she desert us now?

Scars of battle n her brow,

bedraggled feathers on her wings

and yet she sings, she sings!

May she bear thee to thy rest,

the ancient bower of flowers

beyond the solitude of days,

the tyranny of hours --

the wreath of shining laurel lie

upon your shaggy head,

bestowing power to play the lyre

to legions of the dead.

If some part of that music

is heard in deepest dream,

or on some breeze of Summer

a snatch of golden theme,

we'll know you live inside us

with love that never parts

our good old Jack O' Diamonds

become the King of Hearts.

I feel your silent laughter

at sentiments so bold

that dare to step across the line

to tell what must be told,

so I'll just say I love you

which I never said before

and let it go at that old friend,

the rest you may ignore.

August 11, 1995

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EDITORIAL -- American Beauty

OF ALL THE WORDS of mournful praise that have followed the death of Jerry Garcia, leader of the Grateful Dead, the one adjective that runs consistently through the commentaries on his life and times is ``integrity.''

In an industry that thrives on hype, glitz and greed, Garcia never succumbed or aspired to pretensions of self-important celebrityhood; for three decades, he and the band offered open and accessible celebration and entertainment to their countless Deadhead fans, who were treated as members of an extended family, not as suckers to be fleeced.

In a music form where concerns for commercial success outweigh artistic considerations, Garcia never sold out to screaming metal and showy theatrics, remaining true to his own vision of a unique fusion sound of improvisational rock music. In a popular culture that sacrifices every value to merce nary pursuit, Garcia never lost the romantic ideals of San Francisco in the 1960s, the special era that spawned his music and nurtured it into the 1990s.

``The Grateful Dead and Jerry have been the one band that has been about not just the music but the socialization of people,'' said Gregg Perloff, president of the concert promotions firm Bill Graham Presents, ``allowing people to assemble and escape the drudgery of everyday life and experience joy, true joy.''

Whatever private demons drove Garcia to drug addiction -- a child of the Mission District, at the age of 5 he saw his father drown while on a camping trip -- he died while trying to heal himself, checked into a recovery center in an effort to get clean before another Grateful Dead tour in the fall. In the end, what will be remembered is the gentle image of Garcia's smiling, bearded face atop his bearlike body -- that and his matchless music.

``There's no way to measure his greatness or magnitude as a person or as a player,'' said Bob Dylan. ``He really had no equal. His playing was moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic and subtle. There's no way to convey the loss.''

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