I am reading a book called Confessions of a Dead Head by a guy who calls himself The Starburst Commander. It’s a quick read, and I am enjoying the hell out of it so far. He got on the bus in 1974 and drove a van called The Orange Barrel. Freaks of a certain vintage will recognize the reference.
This isn’t a deeply analytical memoir – just the warmly told story of some wonderful times. I’d like to see a hundred more books like this, ’cause every one of us has a similar set of experiences.
Here’s an excerpt that I especially enjoyed:
Dentist and I love Stella Blue and once listened to a live bootleg version of it more than 30 times in a row. We were on a construction site off of St. Stephen’s Road in Lafayette, CA. This was back in the cassette tape days, and by replay number six we had the timing down on the rewind.
Stella Blue is the perfect combination of brilliant musical and lyrical writing. This song is Garcia and Hunter in their element and at their very best. There is not one wasted word. Every line, every verse sets us up for the next line and the next verse. And when Jerry finishes it up on his guitar, we have a genuine masterpiece. It is as perfect as a song can be, and Hunter’s lyrics are a true reality check….
“Dust off those rusty strings just one more time.” It gets me every time. “Gonna make ’em shine” – that last hope of hopes. it is beautiful, but starkly lonely. It seems a brutally, pessimistically optimistic song.
Then – “There’s nothing you can hold for very long… Stella BLue.” Fuck me four times sideways. Like a lamb to the slaughter I follow every word. My emotions are pulled n every direction. Am I sadly happy or happily sad? This song leaves me longing for the knowledge of something I don’t quite understand, and Jerry’s solo continues to take me apart before he slowly puts me back together again. The pauses between his notes here are perfect evidence of his musical genius. Style over speed, quality over quantity. Never a blur, always succinctly clear. I find myself anticipating each note and the wait is sweet.
You can read more about it, and order a copy, here. I recommend it highly, and I do mean highly. I get all molecular just thinking about it.