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IN RESPONSE TO EDDIE Dean’s coverage of the Jerry Garcia vigil at the Lincoln Memorial (“O Captain! Our Captain!,” The District Line, 8/18)—snide, snide, snide.
Regardless of what one thinks of the Grateful Dead’s music and the unfortunate circus that developed around it in the last 10 years or so, one fact remains. That is, in addition to being students of American roots music, the Grateful Dead have served as a vehicle through which countless numbers have become exposed to American roots music.
Yes, perhaps the Dead’s cover of “Promised Land” did a disservice to Chuck Berry at times. Maybe Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” was forever tainted when Bob Weir sang it. To be sure, no one confused the Grateful Dead for Howling Wolf during “Smokestack Lightning.”
However, given the rise of techno music, the continued dominance of mindless rock, and the American public’s lack of awareness concerning America’s greatest export—traditional music—the Dead played an important role as catalyst.
So for Eddie Dean, look for me at Jazz Fest. I’ll be the one with the lost and forlorn expression. As for Garcia and the Grateful Dead—thanks for a real good time!