I have been enjoying the music that never stopped for more than a quarter century. Living in France, or Europe more generally, it is a lonely passion. The Grateful Dead are never played on radio stations here. People typically look at me blankly as I explain the “why” of the Dead (over an espresso). On the other hand, for almost as long I have been passionately listening to Mozart’s music, interpreted by many a virtuoso. No problems with getting an audience here.
In rock’n’roll (Stones, Floyd, Clapton, Dylan…) there are many other extraordinary talents all of whom I saw multiple times (except Zeppelin). And in classical music, there are scores of exceptional composers. But in both categories, I reserve a special–and shared–sense of appreciation. In songs like Althea, Unbroken Chain or Birdsong, I feel a certain chill that I also have the pleasure of experiencing when I listen to Mozart’s Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, Symphony No 25 or the introduction to the Requiem. Of course, in both cases, it depends on the performance and the mood I find myself in at the time. But that’s the magic.
Music is music is music is music. We can come up with all kinds of labels and sub-genres, but in the end, it all comes down to tension and release! Where’s that confounded bridge? When Mozart veers off in the middle of a movement, or when Keith tries a new riff in the middle of a bootleg recording of Satisfaction, or when Ella forgets the lyrics to Mack the Knife on a German stage and substitutes amazing scatting, it all creates tension, and that’s when we’re moved, when music is made, sort-of-speak.
As for the Dead and the French, consider that Garcia and the boys are best appreciated high, not drunk. ‘Nuff said…