“You told me goodbye
How was I to know
You didn’t mean goodbye
You meant please
don’t let me go”
— High Time, Grateful Dead
It was the autumn of 1994 when I first listened, like really listened to Grateful Dead. It was playing in the Union Room of my college. I had only heard about the band earlier and seen some cassette covers which had led me to believe that this must be a post-nuke-mayhem-heavy-shred-metal band. My prejudices were gently put aside by the folksy, beautiful music of tunes like Uncle John’s Band and Ripple.
One of the reasons I love going to this restaurant called Coast II Coast on M.G. Road is because there are a couple of second hand bookshops just below the restaurant, in addition to the fact that they make the best Chicken Ghee Roast in Bangalore. Over the last dozen visits, our menu has not changed. Neer Dosa and Chicken Ghee Roast for the adults and Stew/Appam combo for the kids. So, I usually pack the other folks up to sit, relax and place the order while I scavenge the bookshops.
I think today I found a steal. The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics by David Dodd lying unkempt in a musty corner. For Rs. 395, the book found a new Deadhead.
Stop there. I do not think I can really claim myself to be a Deadhead. Although I have had my Dead moments.
Like the time, Aditi and I caught a Dead concert at Alpine Valley. Call it a fair, call it a mega come-together-of-the-flower-generation – I will remember that concert as one of the most nicest crowds I have ever come across in a ‘rock concert’. Yes, I will also remember how we made it to the concert – as unpaid volunteers in a hotdog and burger kiosk.
Back to the book. I have already penned my name with the customary green ink. The book is beautifully done with some incredible art inside. It’s a used book. The pages are a shade of mild yellow. There’s an interesting article on this book on Music Box.
I don’t think I will listen to all the Dead songs in this lifetime. But even then, this book is sheer poetry. To sum it up, there is a nice quote by Bob Weir on the back-cover, “This book is great. Now I will never have to explain myself.”