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Music and the Creative Spirit

Bob Weir: The Music Never Stopped

By Published: January 17, 2009
BW: Yes. After a show is over, I work with an organization called "Headcount" which is trying to register young voters at concerts. My feeling is that we need to get kids interested in voting now because it's their future that is being decided and I think that the direction of government is becoming more far sighted. When people start to get older, they start to lose that thousand yard stare that a child is sort of born with. We need the youth of our country to right the ship.

LP: Is it a case of kids feeling overwhelmed and too insignificant to make a difference?

BW: And that's what I'm trying to influence, that they can make a difference.

LP: We are now at a place where questioning one's government is perceived as questioning one's love of country. How did we get to this place?

BW: My understanding is that that's wrong! It's straight up nationalism, unquestioning nationalism. The whole idea of democracy, especially as embodied by the founding fathers was to take nationalism out of government and put pragmatism in, pragmatism in the highest possible sense. That's a reversion to the more basal instincts in human nature and it's horrendously shortsighted. It's fascism, pure and simple. Because the people who decide that the questioning of government is the questioning of ones national identity... I mean come on. That just gives the leaders all the rope they need to hang our entire culture. And as we have seen in recent years, that's what they will try to do, such as stacking the Supreme Court and politicizing the justice department. The intent is to try and hold their power with no intention of governing for the better good of all, which is way down on their list of priorities. The first priority is consolidating your power and marginalizing your enemies, your perceived enemies and that is unbelievably short sighted. And I hate to use words like wrong but if I'm going to use one, that whole notion that questioning your government is unpatriotic is pure unadulterated horseshit and is not what our founding fathers would have told us.

LP: When you think about it, it's really quite incredible to think that a group of people were able to come together and find a way to agree on the form of government that we still have today...

BW: Well interestingly, that was accomplished by a collection of young people that were involved in that movement, people that had retained their spirit of youth and had acquired some wisdom. But again, it's that questing spirit of youth and they were able to retain that and acquired wisdom and acumen and came up with the constitution of this country. And it has lasted into our 3rd century. I think what happened in the mid 60s' and up to the very early 70s' will be culturally retained for the next few hundred years. It was another step forward for our culture where we found a newer and fresher well to draw our art from, a newer, deeper and fresher well.

LP: The events of 911 influenced compassionate and sensitive feelings towards the U.S. in a positive way for the first time since the Vietnam War. Now we have lost that. Does that concern you?

BW: Greatly.

LP: Do you see the difference when you travel, do you sense that or see it?

BW: Looking the way that I look, it couldn't be more obvious to most people that, "there is one of those American's that doesn't really buy into what is going on in Washington." So I don't get flack for it. People are sympathetic to me and they can see on my face that I'm embarrassed by our government and I'm embarrassed by this war like nationalism.

LP: Why did things change for the worse after the 60s? Why did we fail at the most opportune time to make and sustain a difference with our sense of ideals and values?

BW: I think that as the bulk of the people got older, real life concerns such as making a living, started inserting itself into our reality and that reality was basically a bubble. I have never left that but when we were living in Haight Asbury, I was only 18, 19 and it was quite easy to be idealistic at that age. But as you gain more experience, a conscious reality starts to creep in and not just our little havens reality, but with the rest of the world as well. And if you are an open minded person, you are going to take that into consideration and put it into balance. And if you are not, then maybe you can stay with that earlier subjective reality but you are going to lose touch with a whole lot of folks. I'd rather be in touch.

LP: The politician has to sometimes compromise their own beliefs but the artist will not compromise his or her art form which usually doesn't reflect the compromised vision of leadership. That in itself is a clash of values and seems to be part of the challenge for what is at stake for our future. How can we get them to work together?

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