Some say we grew up in the wrong decade

It all started with a ten, no twelve, a twelve foot burning ember of marijuana floating high above a crowd. But I wasn’t alive then, and neither was my new-found 8-year-old Deadhead friend. So I guess the real story starts right here in (the better) Portland. Someone had put on the four-disc Closing of Winterland, which having bought it myself some years back, I recognized instantly by some characteristic jam or another.

Just another day climbing became an interview with a eight-year-old Deadhead and a brief revelation into the connectedness of those of us who grew up on this music, and with those who gave it to us (thanks Dad):

A: “Eban, is this your CD?”
E: “Yeah, it’s the Grateful Dead.”
A: “I know – hey do you know what year this is from?”
E: “I think it’s 1978…” (He was close.)
A: “Did you ever see the Grateful Dead?”
E: “Yeah.”
A: “Did you see them when Jerry was alive?”
E: “No – he was already dead. My dad took me to their concert, but now they’re called The Furthur.” (Sort of.)
A: “They’ve also been The Dead, and The Other Ones, and they also play solo sometimes.”
E: “Did you ever see Jerry?”
A: “No – he died when I was eight, and my Dad always told me he’d take me to see the Dead but then Jerry died and I never got to see him.”
E: “Jerry is so great. It’s so sad he died. I was so sad when he died. When you listen to their music, and you hear him, and he’s so good, but then you know that he’s not really alive, but the music is so good, it’s kind of sad and happy at the same time, you know what I mean?”
A: “I know – I was so bummed when I never got to see him. But I’ve been to so many concerts without him since then, it’s okay. When you saw Further, was it awesome?”
E: “Yeah it was so great – I saw The Furthur at Nateva and I was with my mom, and she was getting her hair done, and then they opening with St. Stephen – ”
A: “I love that song!”
E: “Me too! It’s my favorite. So they played the bahbahbah bahbahbah bah bah and I was like ‘MOM!’ and I ran over there. [Mimes running really fast.] Then they opened the second set with Scarlet Begonias and my dad was in the bathroom and he did the same thing. [Mimes running really fast.] And then they closed with We Bid You Goodnight – ”
A: “I think they do that a lot, like they have to.”
E: ” – yeah so they played We Bid You Goodnight and then I fell asleep while we were walking back.”

(Another funny part of this conversation was when I asked him what year he was born in and he couldn’t figure it out, but it’s pretty irrelevant to this story.)

This interaction seems quite significant in some way; the Dead were so influential, and their music so pervasive, so that not just me, but kids a third of my age consider Grateful Dead songs their favorites, can repeat set lists off hand, know the intro licks to every other song, talk about Jerry as if his death had some significant and personal impact on their lives…