Guest Column: Rediscovering My Love for the Grateful Dead During COVID


My 2020 appears to have “began” a bit earlier.

I ushered in the New Yr single for the first time in a protracted whereas, and per week later, awoke blind in my left eye courtesy of a freshly indifferent retina. After making it by way of a grueling restoration interval from a handful of surgical procedures, which I can solely evaluate to some type of Jedi coaching — google the “bubble” process and which requires you to not transfer for about three weeks exterior of a fast five-minute break each hour — I used to be wanting ahead to actually greeting 2020 by getting again to work and my common routines.

Flash ahead just a few weeks and Coronavirus arrives placing all three of my tv jobs that have been about to begin capturing on hiatus, together with the revenue I’d been relying on.

Then got here a name from my little sister informing me that she has breast most cancers (don’t fear, they caught it early and she or he’ll beat it).

Then George Floyd.

…and only a month in the past, my beloved Grandma who planted the seeds which was my lifelong profession in music passes away.

I checklist this stuff looking for zero sympathy, we’re all struggling this 12 months.

I’m a reasonably personal particular person however felt the want to supply these private particulars to share that I really feel okay proper now, possibly even good.

That is all proof of the therapeutic energy of what I’m about to explain.

What we’ve misplaced in 2020 are our foundations, our compasses, our North Stars.

The survival mode this launched me into discovered me reaching out for the issues that constructed me — the music, films, folks, and recollections of my younger grownup life —  most prominently, the sounds of The Grateful Dead.

I used to be fast to write down all this off as a suspended “consolation meals” second, however now, whereas wanting again at it from the “different aspect,” I’m seeing that I’d instinctively gone again to the items that constructed me as a way to discover myself once more and refill the tank after being so shattered.

I used to be launched to the Grateful Dead like many people have been — by way of a pal’s older sibling. I used to be in fourth grade after I first actually heard them and the connection was immediate. This was to be my favourite band they usually’ve been with me ever since. “With me” is an understatement, this band and their message is now infused into my DNA.

Individuals typically talk with symbols as a technique to collect their tribe. For this very purpose, I’ve by no means owned a automotive with out at the very least one piece of Grateful Dead flare. This started with my first automotive at 16 which had, like, seven indications of Dead appreciation. These days, whereas pushing 40, it’s been elegantly refined to a single Stealy sticker on the again of a Prius (can’t afford the Cadillac).

By this image, be it on a T-shirt, a bumper sticker, or whereas listening to the music itself at a present or throughout a cling, I’ve been lucky sufficient to search out my folks.

The Grateful Dead are additionally the glue that binds my sister and I collectively. A lot in order that I flew again house to Chicago in 2015 in order that we might see “Fare Thee Nicely” collectively — I’ve a tough time considering of any second in the final decade the place I used to be that blissful.

The teachings that include the band are the constructing blocks of me — music is for everybody and ought to be shared; all of us must care for one another — and the exhibits instilled an amazing affirmation that the highest heights can solely be achieved after we go away “I” at the door and work in the direction of one thing collectively.

This final lesson is what I supply anybody looking for steerage.

If in case you have the luxurious of discovering it, make time day by day to do the issues you already know will fill your tank. As soon as your tank is full, regroup together with your folks. If any of them are nonetheless working on empty, assist them get the issues you already know might be good for them — a pal not too long ago informed me that the key to 2020 survival is to “go in the direction of the mild”.

My specific gas comes from information, biking, and working. Regardless of how onerous I’m hustling to bridge the hole till any type of normalcy returns, I do no matter it takes to carve out time for a wholesome dose of this stuff each single day.

Not too long ago, I loaded up a selection dwell present on my headphones and went for a run in my neighborhood. I dwell in part of Downtown Los Angeles which acquired hit fairly onerous in the looting. There are nonetheless indicators of disappointment in all places and it typically consumes my ideas whereas I’m working.

However on a current run, passing a constructing that was nonetheless boarded up, I used to be randomly reminded of a very good time in my life. That second coincided with Jerry in my headphones, singing “Scarlet Begonias” — “Every now and then you get proven the mild in the strangest of locations in case you take a look at it proper.”

There appears to be a Dead lyric for each scenario, particularly the tough ones — “A technique or one other, this darkness acquired to offer” from “New Speedway Boogie,” for occasion, or this line from my sister after she delivered her most cancers information over the cellphone: “I’ll get by, I’ll survive”.

We’ve all acquired loads of work to do proper now however we will’t let this mess steal any moments of pleasure that may be out there.

We are going to get by, we are going to survive.

Zach Cowie is a music supervisor whose credit embody “Grasp of None,” “On Changing into a God in Central Florida,” “Little America,” “Eternally” and the forthcoming movie “Judas and the Black Messiah.” 


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