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Music and the Creative Spirit

Bob Weir: The Music Never Stopped

By Published: January 17, 2009
BW: Every now and again, a politician comes along that is actually artful. We had that in John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. They were eloquent and there was art to what they were doing and from what I can see, the same with Barack Obama who is also a rare transcendent politician. And most politicians are just technicians, they are engineers. It's apparent to me that not everyone can be an artist who is born with those sensibilities. God I wish it were possible. My hope is that in some age, we will find that everyone is an artist. Perhaps at the end of the year 2012 in the Mayan calendar and at the end of the Kaliyuga... the end of time as we know it, which is predicted to occur and at that point, everybody wakes up and they discover that they are foremost an artist. I'm going to go on that hope for a few years.

LP: Hazrat Inayat Khan who was from India wrote a book titled, The Mysticism of Sound and Music and stated that, "Someday music will be the means of expressing universal religion. Time is wanted for this but there will be a day when music and philosophy will become the religion of humanity." Do you think music has this kind of power?

BW: It's done that for me. When I'm on stage and the bond is strong between the band and audience, a higher truth becomes injected into that bond and the commonality that everybody in the assemblage shares. There is a higher humanity that is brought into play and it cannot be done without all those folks. I suppose it could be done but I'm not doing it. But I do manage to get there with the help of the audience and with the guys in the band.

LP: There has been an imbalance in the world for a long time now. Can music be the liberator?

BW: When the music is happening and the song is being sung, whether by instrument or by voice, there is no place I would rather be.

LP: As human beings we need love, we need compassion and we need peace yet we don't seem to have the desire or sense of necessity to make that a priority. What are we missing? Why is it not a priority for us today?

BW: I think you are going to have to go to India or Tibet or the mountains of Mexico or South America. I'm not entirely equipped to answer that but I do know that we have our best guys on it.

LP: The great artists do not separate life and music, they bring it together and you cannot tell where one ends or one begins. The love and commitment is always there. Can you explain what has influenced you to this degree?

BW: That's the whole point of art. For me, any artist is a story teller and a story teller brings the listener and the story together until they are all one so everyone is living in the same place and that's really living, in capital letters. That's true living and people are really alive at that point.

LP: Do you miss Garcia; do you still feel his presence?

BW: Sure, I miss the warmth and brotherhood that we had and the music was a just a part of our relationship. We spent a lot of time traveling together, entertained each other and there were always a lot of laughs. And having a guy live in your head for thirty years is not going to go away right away but then I don't suspect that it ever will.

When we played together, I would start hearing what he was doing from the downbeat and I could feel his directives. "Don't go there, but go here." There were some nights where I felt like I was in conflict with him and some where I was in complete harmony with him but Garcia wasn't looking for slavish emulation. And if I was playing something and being completely hard headed about it, just maybe there was a reason for it. With some of those conflicts, sometimes there would be a breakthrough where that conflict would result with great things happening. In the realm of intuitive music, that's where it really gets interesting. A lot of great art is born from tension and we had total respect for that. The harmony that happens from the downbeat can make for a wonderful night but the ones where there is conflict are probably the more interesting nights, especially if there is a resolution found.

LP: If you could move forward 200 years from now and people were interested in knowing what your fondest memories were, what would you tell them?


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