You wouldn’t believe how many Deadheads I know on Facebook who are pro Trump and everything he stands for. I’m talking about anti-immigrant sentiments, a reverence for the patriarchy, a lot of that nasty racist stuff and “all lives matter” crap.

And it’s not just Baby Boomers — most of whom, you’d be wise to remember, were not at Woodstock. A lot of the people that I used to go to Grateful Dead shows with in the 1980s and ’90s are Trumpers. And I am personally goddam offended by it.

Let me tell you why.

I have been to perhaps 20 Grateful Dead shows in the years between 1986 and ’94. Nassau Coliseum. Saratoga. Pittsburgh. Philly. UNO. Sold imports in the parking lot, ate grilled cheeses and bought hideous T-shirts. It was fun and it was wild and I enjoyed every minute of it, even when things got weird. Especially when things got weird.

Outsiders might think it strange that a lot of my values — beauty and compassion, mercy and love — are informed by the Dead, its music and the people who gathered around them. But it’s true. Deadheads were a gentle people, by and large, determinedly non-judgmental and respectful, sometimes even reverent, of their fellow humans.

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty, right?

Sure, the Grateful Dead was one of the most successful money-making enterprises of the last quarter of the 20th Century — they were an American band, after all — but aside from that, their philosophy is entirely incongruous with today’s right-wing politics.

Kindness. Generosity. Tolerance. Tie a retread to your feet and pray for better weather. What I want to know, is are you kind?

Obviously, they’re not listening to the words.

Also: The members of the band were outlaw drug users with criminal records who had no place for organized religion in their secular spirituality. In their lives as in their music they railed against bankers, corporations, the politicians throwing stones and everything else the hippies lumped together as “the establishment.”

And the sentiments of peace, love and justice are punchlines to today’s GOP.SO I say either they stop listening to the Dead’s music altogether, or they listen to nothing but the Dead, until the message seeps in.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I love this.. Some narrow-minded jerk tells me that I can’t like the dead and trump at the same time.. He like putting people in boxes!

  2. This guy had the ‘nads to mention tolerance. Astounding.

    First thing to pop into my mind?

    “Before I have to hit him, I hope he’s got the sense to run.”

  3. It’s a line.
    From a Dead song.
    That Jerry sang quite often.
    A true Deadhead would have recognized that, and the irony of it.
    Perhaps a line from Candyman works better for you?
    “If I had me a shotgun,” well, you know the rest (or more likely don’t).

    So maybe we were “gentle people, by and large, determinedly non-judgmental and respectful, sometimes even reverent” towards each other while at Dead shows, but what about events like this:

    https://www.spokesman.com/stories/1995/jul/04/grateful-dead-cancels-show-after-riot/

    Or don’t cops (or “nasty racist” conservatives) deserve the same “compassion, mercy and love?”
    Quick guess – they don’t count as “fellow humans” to you.

    He was many things, but there’s one thing I’m pretty sure that Jerry wasn’t Brian, and that’s a hypocrite.
    Very wise was he to stay out of politics too.
    ‘Twould do you well to take a page.

  4. The Dead stood for everything opposite of the current DNC. FREEDOM…LIBERTY. I’ve got dozens and dozens of photos of the boys shooting guns, including a beautiful M-16 back in the day. They are the epitome of capitalism. They have created a brand, and have made millions of that brand, selling stickers, shirts, every item in your home you can think of with a Stealie symbol on it. Even freakin’ baby clothes- my daughter has ’em! They stood for free exchange of ideas. They hung with the damn Hell’s Angels for the love of God. I remember footage of Bobby arguing with some commie hippie about his right to make money playing music, so that he could make a living, etc. Hanging with Deadheads used to mean you could be yourself, be free, say what ya want- even if it wasn’t popular with the PC crowd. Hanging with liberals in 2020 is like walking on egg shells. They have become the modern day “church ladies”, shaking their fingers in your face for not standing up straight, and stepping in line. (And at the end of the day…most of us know this)

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