What a question! You should find yourself & old Deadhead buddy, and listen to stories for a few hours. There is more than I could type in a year. But here is a couple...
When I first started seeing the Dead, it wasn't because I liked them...in fact quite the opposite. I was strictly a Floyd/Zep kinda kid. Why were all these freaks listening to the weird country music? When will this song end? Why do they never play anything off American Beauty? Will they every play a song I know?
One night I realized that I was standing on the floor and I was doing this wiggly-butt dance. I thought damn...I must look like an idiot! Then I looked to my left. Everybody as far as I could see...was doing the same dance. I looked to my right...same. I figured that made it OK.
I remember a show in Hartford...maybe...I remember a swell from Slip to Frank. I remember the tease, and I remember the wave of energy. The resolution. I was swept up by it. And once I was on the wave...nothing would ever be the same. Majesty in the moment. Bands that played a well-oiled setlist would never seem the same. Devoid of magic.
This has turned into a babble. In those early '80's shows I lost all fear of my inner freak. People were very set in their ways in small NY towns, and freaks weren't accepted. I walked out through that garden gate, and into a broader world. Jerry showed me the way. A million mystical experiences. Lost my traditional religious upbringing. Became a Tree-Huggin' Dirt Worshipper. Knew many a nontraditional beauty. Became a giant Redwood, and learned what it's like to live 500 years. Ate from the Gourd & drank from the Vine. Knew my own death at a core level, and lost even the fear of that.
But I could never show anyone the way, and it was my sincerest desire to do so. "That path is for...your steps alone." But I did meet the Love of my Life on the trail. And that's a darn fine thing.
I have always wished that I could paint a perfect picture (for any who asked) of that thing which is both of the Grateful Dead...and of the Mystical Experience. I have chased ideas that were truth to no one but me. Down secret byways, alleys, and wooded paths.
Maybe the truth is ...Nothing happened at the shows...and maybe everything.
"Hi Ho...the Carrion Crow...FoldeRoldeRiddle"