It is estimated that about 20,000 people were attending the Jerry Garcia Memorial at the Golden Gate Park Polo Field, San Francisco CA, Sunday August 13, 1995. Except for the parade and drumming there was no live music. The song in this video is Playing In The Band (Edmundson Pavillion Seattle, WA 5/21/74). The images are an excerpt of a video given to to me by an english Dead Head “Dangerous Dave”, a few weeks after the ceremony. Unfortunately the source is unknown and the VHS-tape has lost a lot of its quality over the years…
CEREMONY speakers in order:
Deborah Koons Garcia
“…He died in his sleep with a smile on his face. He was
working hard to purify himself, and we thought it was going to be for
a good long life but it was for another journey. And he loved his
life. He loved all of you. And what I learned from Jerry was to open
my heart and live fully in the moment…
…What a great guy Jerry Garcia was, He would have loved
this. He is loving it.”
“We love each and every one of you because you put us through
college. And we didn’t have to work at Dairy Queen…
…I know that he’s watching us all. `Even though he’s gone,
every single one of us has to keep it going.”
He read Hunter’s “An Elegy for Jerry” and his own haiku. “We
are experiencing ‘Good Grief’ Today!”
“…Take your heart, take you face, and reflect back some of
the joy that he gave you … he filled this world full of clouds of
joy. Just take a little bit of that and reflect it back up to him,
or wherever he is, just shine it back to him…”
“…you were the fuel that drove the bus…
… If the Grateful Dead did anything, we gave you the power.
You have the groove, you have the feeling. . . . You take it home and
do something with it. We didn’t do this for nothing.”
“Jerry was a friend of mine. He was my brother. He was a
wounded warrior. And now he’s done with becoming. Now he is being.
Jerry, God bless you. Go with God. I love you. [to audience] And he
loved you too. And we love you. Keep it coming…”
He read the poem that he read at the Bill Graham Memorial
entitled for the “Good of All”.
“…when (I) first saw Jerry I thought I had just seen Santa
Claus… I still believe in Santa Claus.”
John Perry Barlow
Had one word to share with us – “love”.
An Elegy for Jerry By Robert Hunter
Jerry, my friend,
you’ve done it again,
even in your silence
the familiar pressure
comes to bear, demanding
I pull words from the air
with only this morning
and part of the afternoon
to compose an ode worthy
of one so particular
about every turn of phrase,
demanding it hit home
in a thousand ways
before making it his own,
and this I can’t do alone.
Now that the singer is gone,
where shall I go for the song?
Without your melody and taste
to lend an attitude of grace
a lyric is an orphan thing,
a hive with neither honey’s taste
nor power to truly sting.
What choice have I but to dare and
call your muse who thought to rest
out of the thin blue air,
that out of the field of shared time,
a line or two might chance to shine —
As ever when we called,
in hope if not in words,
the muse descends.
How should she desert us now?
Scars of battle n her brow,
bedraggled feathers on her wings
and yet she sings, she sings!
May she bear thee to thy rest,
the ancient bower of flowers
beyond the solitude of days,
the tyranny of hours —
the wreath of shining laurel lie
upon your shaggy head,
bestowing power to play the lyre
to legions of the dead.
If some part of that music
is heard in deepest dream,
or on some breeze of Summer
a snatch of golden theme,
we’ll know you live inside us
with love that never parts
our good old Jack O’ Diamonds
become the King of Hearts.
I feel your silent laughter
at sentiments so bold
that dare to step across the line
to tell what must be told,
so I’ll just say I love you
which I never said before
and let it go at that old friend,
the rest you may ignore.
One Year Later, in August 1996, Robert Hunter published this email to Jerry: (excerpts)
Your funeral service was one hell of a scene. Maureen and I took Barbara and Sara in and sat with them. MG waited over at our place. Manasha and Keelan were also absent. None by choice. Everybody from the band said some words and Steve, especially, did you proud, speaking with great love and candor. Annabelle got up and said you were a genius, a great guy, a wonderful friend, and a shitty father – which shocked part of the contingent and amused the rest. After awhile the minister said that that was enough talking, but I called out, from the back of the church, “Wait, I’ve got something!” and charged up the aisle and read this piece I wrote for you, my voice and hands shaking like a leaf. Man, it was weird looking over and seeing you dead!
Been remembering some of the key talks we had in the old days, trying to suss what kind of a tiger we were riding, where it was going, and how to direct it, if possible. Driving to the city once, you admitted you didn’t have a clue what to do beyond composing and playing the best you could. I agreed – put the weight on the music, stay out of politics, and everything else should follow. I trusted your musical sense and you were good enough to trust my words. Trust was the whole enchilada, looking back.
Walking down Madrone Canyon in Larkspur in 1969, you said some pretty mindblowing stuff, how we were creating a universe and I was responsible for the verbal half of it. I said maybe, but it was your way with music and a guitar that was pulling it off.
Just thought it should be said that I no longer hold your years of self inflicted decline against you. I did for awhile, felt ripped off, but have come to understand that you were troubled and compromised by your position in the public eye far beyond anyone’s powers to deal with. Star shit. Who can you really trust? Is it you or your image they love? No one can understand those dilemmas in depth except those who have no choice but to live them. You whistled up the whirlwind and it blew you away. Your substance of choice made you more malleable to forces you would have brushed off with a characteristic sneer in earlier days. Well, you know it to be so. Let those who pick your bones note that it was not always so.
So here I am, writing a letter to a dead man, because it’s hard to find a context to say things like this other than to imagine I have your ear, which of course I don’t. Only to say that what you were is more startlingly apparent in your absence than ever it was in the last decade. I remember sitting in the waiting room of the hospital through the days of your first coma. Not being related, I wasn’t allowed into the intensive care unit to see you until you came to and requested to see me. And there you were – more open and vulnerable than I’d ever seen you. You grasped my hand and began telling me your visions, the crazy densely packed phantasmagoria way beyond any acid trip, the demons and mechanical monsters that taunted and derided, telling you endless bad jokes and making horrible puns of everything – and then you asked, point blank, “Have I gone insane?” I said “No, you’ve been very sick. You’ve been in a coma for days, right at death’s door. They’re only hallucinations, they’ll go away. You survived.” “Thanks,” you said. “I needed to hear that.”
Your biographers aren’t pleased that I don’t talk to them, but how am I to say stuff like this to an interviewer with an agenda? I sometimes report things that occur to me about you in my journal, as the moment releases it, in my own way, in my own time, and they can take what they want of that.