How Jerry Got Hip (Again)
As Jerry Week continues, we revisit this excerpt from our August 2008 Relix cover story.
The Lorimer Street subway station in Brooklyn is 2,912 miles from the front stoop of 710 Ashbury, and is the hub between the trendy neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Park Slope. There, at nearly any hour, one can experience the latest in hipster fashion: the fabbest band t-shirts, sideways haircuts, half-ironic haberdashery, facial hair, novels du jour, vintage glasses, or any other indicator one might seek.
It is there, last year, at the end of the platform that a seemingly unlikely piece of graffiti appears. “Now It’s Your Turn To Get Ahead!” the ad for the vocational school reads in encouraging yellow letters, and that’s exactly what the artist does, tagging the Grateful Dead’s Steal Your Face skull over a smiling Asian woman in surgical scrubs.
“Uptown toodle-loo!” she now sang from one speech bubble, like a victim of the Joker. “Half a cup of rock and rye…” from another.
“WTF?” I text my friend with a picture when I get above ground. “hipster deadheads in wburg?”
Two months later, the graffiti since covered, a 20-something ambles by at the same station late one evening, singing drunk and proud. Taking my headphones off, I realize it’s “Box of Rain.” Because it’s the Grateful Dead, I sing along.
We talk until the train comes, and then a few stops. He’s just discovered the Dead, as it were, via Judd Apatow’s short-lived TV series Freaks & Geeks, in which—during the finale—protagonist Lindsay Weir has a revelatory moment listening to American Beauty’s opening cut and (SPOILER ALERT!) hops in a Microbus and heads off on Dead tour.
“It’s just so right,” the sloshed hipster kid keeps saying.
For those counting on a global paradigmatic shift when the Mayan calendar tails down in December 2012, one positive sign of the forthcoming singularity—or quite possibly, the apocalypse—is the warm and lovely redeification of Jerry Garcia in the mind of the young hipster. If the number of indie rock acts now crediting the Dead as a reference point is any indication, the Dead are in. Again.
With their deep ties to the American avant-garde via bassist Phil Lesh (who studied with electronic composer Luciano Berio), their radical and/or stoned approach to intellectual property (via free tape trading), their fiercely independent business operations, their direct connections to both the Beats (in Merry Prankster Neal Cassady) and contemporary techno-utopians (through lyricist and Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow), the Dead have always been cool. But they haven’t always been fashionable.
“I wouldn’t wear a tie-dyed t-shirt unless it was dyed with the urine of Phil Collins and the blood of Jerry Garcia,” undisputed heavyweight signifier Kurt Cobain sneered in 1992 and wore a homemade “Kill the Grateful Dead” tee to a Rolling Stone photo shoot. “August 8th is a beautiful day, what’s goin’ on… is something bummin’ your scene?” punk-pop staples NOFX sang on “August 8th” in 1996, getting the date of Garcia’s death one day early.
The Howlin’ Brothers take to the Relix rooftop and share a song they wrote with Warren Haynes.
Beth Hart shares the opening track from her latest album, Bang Bang Boom Boom, live at Relix.
Jamie Lidell sets up in the Relix boiler room and delivers a tune from his 2005 album Multiply
Duane Trucks is happy to announce his new project, King Lincoln. Watch them perform “Coffee” live and acoustic at Relix’s Online-Video Coordinator’s loft in Williamsburg.
Here’s another song from Crystal Bowersox’s new record All That For This, live at Relix.
WYATT share a song in the famed Relix boiler room.
Goodnight, Texas share a song from their latest studio album, A Long Life of Living, live at Relix.
Warren Haynes performs a solo, acoustic version of “Railroad Boy” and explains how he adapted the traditional Celtic song for Gov’t Mule, backstage at the Hangout Music Festival.
Australia’s Alpine recently made their NYC debut at the Relix office with this song from their new album A is for Alpine.
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
- Summer Stars: Shovels & Rope
- Visions of Bonnaroo Friday (Paul McCartney, Passion Pit, Conspirator…)
- Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Free Download "Dear Lord (Give Me The Strength)"
- God Street Wine with Warren Haynes "Sweet Little Angel" (Live 1996)
- The Howlin’ Brothers "Big Time"
- Primus in Toronto
- Twice "The Joker" on Saturday at Bonnaroo (Gov’t Mule and Jack Johnson)
- The National’s Grateful Dead Tribute Album Dead Hot In Motion
- Interlocken Confirms Daily Lineups, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Punch Brothers, Keller & The Keels and More Added
- Mumford and Sons Cancel Bonnaroo Show, Summer Tour
- Ed Helms: Bonnaroo, Banjos and a Bit of Phish
- Robert Hunter Will Return to the Stage for Eight Shows
- Warren Haynes to Play Jerry Garcia’s Wolf on Symphony Tour
- Tedeschi Trucks Band Share New Song
- Jack Is Back: Jack Johnson Talks Bonnaroo, ALO and New Album
- Patty Griffin in Boston
- Doctor’s Orders: So what should we call the Super Ball IX Newspaper?
- John Kadlecik Posts Statement on Bob Weir’s Collapse
- "I Wanne Be In moe.": The Latest Volunteers
- Bob Weir Escorted Off Stage During Furthur Show
- Vote for Your Favorite "I Wanne Be In moe." Contestant
- Furthur Cancels BottleRock Show as Bob Weir Is Out Of Commision
- Doctor’s Orders: What’s Your Favorite Furthur Song? (Win Copy of Relix Signed by Phil and Bobby)
- On The Verge Poll