Fun_People Archive
21 Aug
Two chubby old rockers with beards

Date: Mon, 21 Aug 95 11:42:06 -0700
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: Two chubby old rockers with beards

Excerpted-from: DESPERADO

 Old-time Desperadoes, mindful of many a snipe over the years at the
 expense of the Dreadful Grate, are demanding a Jerry Garcia obituary.

 Two chubby old rockers with beards died recently.

 There's a tribute to Wolfman Jack at

 The Jerry Garcia celebration is at

 It's probably true, as the faithful said, the answer to everything is
 somewhere in the lyrics of a Grateful Dead song.  Now Jerry didn't
 write those lyrics, you know, so half of what we've been reading in
 obituaries in the past few days was really about Robert Hunter.  It's
 just that there's not a one of those songs I like as much as I like
 "Clap for the Wolfman" by the Guess Who.  Howie Carr, the
 contemptible vitriolist of the Boston Herald, offered the following
 (paraphrased): "Two sixties bands with an extraordinary ability to
 continue to sell out live shows, the Beach Boys, with 48 top-ten
 hits, and the Grateful Dead, with one."  Brian Wilson, another
 well-rounded doper, certainly had some extraordinary music in him.
 And still does, and soon to have an album produced by Don Was to

 I loved hearing Wolfman Jack on the Don Imus program week before
 last creaming over the big beautiful tubes of the 500kw transmitter
 at XERF in Villa Acuna, Couahila, Mexico, just across the mud from
 Del Rio, Tejas, the most powerful medium-wave station in North
 America.  Imus made fun of him, but the Wolfman was too cool to care
 (and Imus couldn't conceal his warm feelings for the Wolfman).  XERF
 was founded to peddle Dr. Brinkley's goat-gland transplants for men.
 The station had been famous for years for radio preachers selling
 holy water from the River Jordan and the invaluable prayer cloths,
 but the station also marketed baby chickens and rabbits, not to
 mention rhythm&blues record collections touted by Dr. Jazzmo (I was
 mystified by this Clifton Chenier, who apparently had decided to
 replace the tenor sax solo with an accordion), but the Wolfman
 bought the station (under mysterious circumstances involving more
 guns than money and no lawyers) to turn it into the rock&roll voice
 of the west.

 All three of these characters created imaginary worlds populated by
 millions of real people.  The Dead let you live the life of the road
 without the two hours of pushing brooms and the rooms to let fifty
 cents.  Wolfman Jack turned button-pushers stuck in traffic jams and
 kids cruising the burger joints into wild creatures with strange
 allure.  Brian Wilson created two imaginary worlds, the one of
 transcendant tunes of endless summer and and the other of
 meta-transcendant tunes and unearthly sounds.  All three made it
 easier for their folks to get up in the morning, the Grateful Dead
 perhaps most of all.

 I learned in Sunday School that while you had to love your enemies,
 you didn't have to like them.  Surely we can extend the same
 principle to friends like Jerry Garcia.  I'm just a prisoner of
 songs and backbeat and I can't get out enough to buy the Dead thing,
 particularly their covers, but I sure do love it for itself.  The
 most foolish things said after Garcia's death were about there being
 no more tours and no more Deadheads.  It's an industry and a way of
 life and I'm sure it will make it.

 One of the first signs the Dead were something special:  They bought
 a $60,000 sound system for a $1000 tour.  This was back when
 rock&roll dollars came in megs, not gigs.

 I know who the DooDah man is and I know when he passed that little
 secret on to Jerry so that Jerry could pass it on to the rest of us.
 It was in Boston about 1971-2 on Lansdowne street at the (New)
 Boston Tea Party, where the Bonzo Dog Band (formerly Bonzo Dog
 Doodah Band) opened for the Dead and Jerry exchanged truths with
 Bonzos Vivian Stanshall and Neil Innes.  Me and some pals had the
 pleasant good fortune to exchange further truths with the Bonzo Dog
 Band the next morning for brunch.

 I never met Jerry, but I did know Stanley Mouse and Kelly, creators
 of the Dead's graphic style.  Mouse was a big old hippy (the host of
 the Bonzo brunch) and Kelly was a little biker, but both of them
 were cool company and warm people.  A few years ago Jerry bought
 Stanley Mouse a new liver.  

 There really were hippies back then, you know, and the Dead really
 is for them and for everybody who catches those vibes.  Hippie music
 played by hippies.  

 I was once taken for Jerry Garcia while walking out of an Elvis
 Costello concert at the Cape Cod Mausoleum.  "Hey, it's Jerry Garcia"
 they muttered from a respectful distance.  I flashed them a big smile
 and a peace sign and went on my way.  It would have been even cooler
 to have been taken for Wolfman Jack, but I just don't have the
 peircing eyes.  

 Someone remarked of The Bridges of Madison County, "Maybe we ought to
 include the ability to evoke a response in our judgements of artistic

 A saying from Muscle Shoals, home of many a soul hit, "Behind every
 great song there's a great pill."  There was that magic moment there
 when the Grateful Dead were seized with songwriting and
 record-producing fervor and produced two five-star albums toot sweet,
 "Workingman's Dead" and "American Beauty", and then never did
 anything like that again.  Prokofiev wrote his "Classical Symphony"
 to shut up the people who said he couldn't write one and then went
 back to doing his thing.

 Happy Landings, Captain Trips.

				[ (Tom Parmenter)]

[=] © 1995 Peter Langston []