Building a Library: The Grateful Dead Page 8

"Eyes of the World," too, illustrates the sweetness of Garcia's guitar playing. The E-major VII intro shows his exquisite phrasing and his lyrical ability sine qua non. The guitar solos punctuating the chorus and the break are also indicative of his ability to penetrate the veil. Perhaps here it was safe for him; given this task outside of the bounds of the music, it became an onerous burden. More than anything, that price serves as a reminder that happiness must come from within, that no one else can provide your answers, that the solutions are up to all of us: it should never be one man's mantle.

There comes a redeemer and he slowly too fades away,

And there follows his wagon behind him that's loaded with clay,

And the seeds that were silent all burst into bloom and decay,

And night come so quiet, it's close on the heel of the day.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own,

And sometimes we visit your country and live in your home,

Sometimes we ride on your horses, sometimes we walk alone,

Sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own (footnote 16).

There is a temptation, in the light of Garcia's death, to set the meanings of certain lyrics in the light of a particular moment. But beware of pouring concrete over an interpretation. Literalism has meant the death of many powerful mythologies; it chokes spiritualism from religion, and is the death-knell of a song. Similarly, it is the expansiveness, the hint of truth---or, better yet, the resonance and cognition of truth---that is the lifebreath of song. Whether Solomon, Homer, or the Song of the Goddess Inana, it is the resilience of the words over the years, long after the meter has shifted tongues. The promise of redemption, the hope of transcendence, are all uplifting and require discipline of mind, body, and soul. A Grateful Dead concert provides an environment for experiment and acceptance. A library of their recordings leaves open a window on the soul, open to interpretation for those that follow.

For years I took it for granted, like hamburgers and toilet paper---the Dead were always around. One would not have to plan to arrange elaborate "family" meetings; they were natural occurrences. In retrospect, I have been truly graced. Bumbling, confused, and humble, with just a touch of wisdom picked up along the way, I close with a few lines from "Help on the Way" (from Blues for Allah):

Paradise waits on the crest of a wave,

Her angels in flame, crippled but free.

I was blind all the time,

I was learning to see.

Footnote 16: "Eyes of the World," by Hunter-Garcia, from Wake of the Flood.