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Music and the Creative Spirit

Bob Weir: The Music Never Stopped

By Published: January 17, 2009
BW: For certain types of criticism but that statement was also a challenge to us, it was a challenge. If we are too weird, well that's just what we're going to hang with (laughs). We have to hang with it. We were born with it and it's also how we were made.

LP: But isn't that also a kind of validation that you are going down the right path, not just the traditional one?

BW: It was more of a challenge than a validation at that point. I had just turned 18 so I wasn't looking for validation (laughs) I was only looking for challenges and was looking to get into it. And at that time, Billy and Pigpen were a year and a half older than me and Jerry and Phil, not much older than that.

LP: What was it about the Dead's music that kept capturing the imagination of youth for several generations?

BW: It takes a great deal of luck to find what the Dead found in finding the right collection of guys who can keep cranking stuff out that relates to youth. Dylan and Neil Young are elemental writers who compose songs with infinitive eternal things who have the gift of the ears for eternal youth. That's wisdom and it's nothing less than that.

LP: There seems to be a correlation with artists and higher awareness levels. As an example, there are many that seem to have the ability to look past and beyond cultural differences. Have you noticed this and can it be attributed to the power of music or is it perhaps from a particular type of spiritual or cultural enlightenment?

BW: You know, artists are probably born and not made. It's the questing soul. But you can also be a questing soul and fall into science as well as engineering. But the questing soul who is born with artistic aesthetic sensibilities is probably going to fall into art. For me personally, I have never looked for answers, I have been looking for the burning questions that could beg answers and draw stuff out of the universe.

LP: There has always been a sense that the members of the Dead were driven by some other outside force or that somehow the stars lined up just perfectly. Did the band feel this power and did you feel a sense of responsibility to nurture it?

BW: I always felt that that was what we were here to do and I still do feel that way. I'm here to take that as far as I can.

LP: But is there pressure with that? Do you still feel that you have a responsibility to carry this on?

BW: You learn to live with pressure and I think all successful people have pressure. However, it needs to be balanced with the joy of discovery along with the ecstasy and elation of being able to deliver as well. And when you are delivering to an audience and they are getting it, it is a two way deal. They are working too. Everybody is. You know, many hands make light work.

LP: To jump off the cliff" during a performance requires a musician to let go of their ego and be extremely committed in their vision. Very few reach this level to that extent. Where did you guys get your collective commitment and passion to search and discover?

BW: I came around very slowly but it still came within the first few years and I think LSD probably had something to do with that. But for awhile now, my contention has been that it really wasn't the LSD so much. The LSD was sort of a sacrament to get everybody involved, such as with the acid tests. "We're going to step off a cliff here." So I guess that compulsion to go cliff jumping came relatively early on. Eventually, we became a little more intelligent about it and developed our sense of feel with regard to what we were going to use to fly and see if it kept us aloft. We had some miserable crashes but we also had some soaring experiences too.

LP: You are one of those rare musicians that brings it to the table every single night. From the moment you begin fine tuning your equipment until the end of the performance, your focus is completely in the moment. Why is music this important to you?

BW: You know, it always has been. When I was eight years old, my brother taught me how to tune a radio and I knew at that moment that it was music. I knew that that was what I was going to amount to. And by the time I was 15, I was already on my way and I met Jerry just after I had turned 16 and have been a professional musician ever since. Music has always been very good to me. There were a few lean years in the mid-sixties but those were the starving artist days and you don't want to skip that, you just don't want to skip that.

LP: You seem to be sensitive and passionate about everything that you get involved with and that's not only in music. Can you explain where these roots are from and what continues to drive you?

BW: If I'm going to get into something, I'm going to want to dive in. I want to feel it.

LP: Do you still have that same passion today?


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