12 Galaxies, SF, Ca
April 15, 2008
John Barlow did a Q&A last night between a smokin' live acoustic set by Stu & Pat and a Dark Star Dan DJ set. It was great to hear from a man who has given us so much. He was extremely humble, acknowledging the collective fanbase as giving more than any band or crew member, acknowledging the genius of Robert Hunter and implying Dylan is god. He ingratiated himself further with is humor and warm charm, I didn't know what to expect but I didn't expect such a 'man of the people'...thinking back on it, I think I should have. At any rate, he seemed like a genuine guy and here's some of what I can recall, loosely paraphrased.
The first question was 'Have you ever shot any member of the grateful dead?'. Not surprising, the answer was yes But it was completely an accident, he had no idea the bullet would ricochet off the cement floor and hit Bobby while he slept. and besides, it just grazed him arm, nothing more than a little flesh would
He talked about writing with Brent, saying it was a special experience and he really loved the songs that came from it. Much quicker than writing with Bobby. He felt his lyrics were just a verbalization of Brents emotions, something that Brent himself could never do. In that manner, he said the songs were obvious and just poured out in a matter of minutes on some occasions.
He talked about the '87 tour with Bob Dylan or rather "the thing that calls itself Bob Dylan". His only explanation for Dylan was "he must be the same guy that wrote the book of revelations." Barlow wanted to get closer to Dylan while they were on tour but it never really happened despite Barlow's attempts to spend time with him. He said everything Dylan would say was cryptic and nonsensical. Sounds about right to me. The only way he could make sense of Dylan is to chalk it up to godliness.
Barlow talked about LSD for a few minutes, he talked about how seriously he treated it, with great reverence and very deep respect. It seemed to bother him a bit when the crowd cheered for any mention of LSD, he was trying to talk about the profound effect it can have, not how it's fun as a party drug. He said he was rather appalled to find out his best friend was involved with a group that would just mix it all up in a bunch of kool-aid and hand it out to everyone at parties. I'm not sure the crowd really understood what he was getting at, I think they just wanted to cheer for drugs.
He spoke briefly about how he's in between the counter culture and the politicans these days, he said that if the every congressperson he knows to have done LSD admitted to it, the world would be a better place.
Politics lead to his recent legal troubles, which actually ended sooner than he would have liked. He wanted his case to go to federal appeals court but the judge snuck in a clause that someone avoided that. In the end, he had a san mateo county possession ticket with a fine and he had to attend a drug class--to which he said, I already know about drugs, what do they really think they can teach me?
All told, I'd say he spoke for maybe 45 minutes, it was pretty interesting, I'm glad I had a chance to go.
Did he speak about being a close friend of John Kennedy Jr.?
I've always wanted to know just how those two paths crossed.
Barlow has an amazing mind, I wish he'd do more of this type of thing.
thanks for sharing that, sounds interesting.
No, nothing about Kennedy...I imagine he's got a lot of political stories, it was such a short time he barely scratched the surface.
Another funny question, someone asked if he had any songs that were not released for political reasons or because he was afraid of their repercussions. He answered that one with an emphatic NO! He did everything in his power to challenge the system and he embraced any repercussions his songs may have.
Someone else asked about his song writing style, did he have music or melody in mind when he wrote. The short answer was it didn't matter cuz bobby disregarded it all anyhow He went on to say that yes, he particularly enjoyed song writing because it did focus on the beat and the rhythm, but again, didn't matter what he did, he could write a perfect rhythmic line and bobby would add an extra syllable every time
It was nice to hear him talk about Weir so affectionately, he took a few stabs at the way Bobby did things but it was so good natured, you could tell they've had a long lasting friendship. He said they'd been making mischief together as recently as that morning
Wow, sounds like it was a really cool event. Was it a packed house? Younger crowd?
Well done on the Dead part, hope everybody did OK on the Taxes part
Thanks! Sounds like a real good time
I met him briefly after his talk at the Alpine Reunion shows. A Very gracious guy.
He's one guy I wish would write his story down (I've long since resigned myself to hte fact that Hunter ain't going to).
Saw Timothy Leary speak at NYU October 28, 1990 and John Barlow was sitting next to me... when Tim called him down to join him on stage Barlow asked me if I would hold his Wheel... from his bike... they had a great talk with huge insights and BIG laughs... I remember JB saying something like "LSD lets you see GOD..."... I always revered him...
"... and we will not speak but stand inside the rain... and listen to the thunder shout.... " I AM... I AM... I... AMMMMMMM...." F/Em/D!!!!!