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  • March 14th, 2018

    15 of the Most Exceptionally Awesome Phil Lesh Quotes from Interviews

    1. A playful relationship between friends

    “It’s the three of us – me, Bob (Weir) and Jerry (Garcia) in the Los Trancos Woods near Palo Alto in the summer of 1965. We’d wander around – you can imagine the state we were in – and I ran with Bob into some gully. We’d hang out there, looking at the trees. We came back up the road, and there’s Jerry scuttling across the field, kind of like a badger, a three-toed sloth, on all fours. He’s scurrying across, and he’s moving fast. Then he sees us, and he gets this sheepish grin on his face. And he flops on his back.”

    2. Meeting Owsley Stanley for the first time

    “I fell in love with the guy the minute I met him. It was the Fillmore acid test in 1965. In sweeps Owsley; I think he was wearing a cape and leather hat. He exuded righteous knowledge. He just looked like a man who knew something I wanted to know.”

    3. Fan conspiracy theories

    “In fact, when we did the planetary thing last summer (on tour), there were a couple of guys who were digging into that and deriving numerological correspondences and all this nutty, occult stuff – stuff I never put in there.”

    4. Performing with Warren Haynes, Rob Barraco, and John Molo for the first time

    “The first day we played together, we improvised for 20 minutes – it was one of those things where we started playing, developed some ideas and then it had an ending to it and we all looked at each other and asked, “What was that? Where are we? Who are we? What does this mean?”

    5. Opening up to the music

    “What you can do is prepare yourself to be open; open for the pipeline to open and the magic to flow down through us. It means leaving yourself behind. It’s not a question of, Oh God, don’t let me fuck up, or anything like that. It’s a question of, “Here I am. Work me, Lord.”

    6. Experimenting with the Dead

    “Well it’s kind of the last great American adventure, you know what I mean? Human beings need a little danger, a little uncertainty, a little adventure in their lives and our society frowns upon that.”

    7. Jerry Garcia’s creative tone

    “Now consider Garcia – all of the shit he gets out of an electric guitar. They say that an electric guitar is a very limited instrument.”

    8. Exploring the wonders of LSD and its effects on the Dead’s music

    It wasn’t serious in the sense of deadpan. In a sense it was both high farce, just like the Acid Tests, and it was music that actually changed people’s personalities. It was warping. There we were all together. Somehow the music would make us act in unison, but it was only one of the factors in that impulse. True, it was the loudest individual factor (aside from LSD). But only because you’ve really got to have something to relate to, especially when reality is hitting you right in the guts.”

    9. Using psychedelics as musical tools

    “We found that while high we were able to go very far out musically but still come back to some kind of recognisable space or song structure. I knew instantly that this combination – acid and music – was the tool I’d been looking for.”

    10. Progressing and challenging with the members of the Dead

    “Sometimes it’s challenging enough. Sometimes it’s challenging in a negative way – ‘okay, I’ll show these fuckers’ or a positive way, like ‘wow, did we really play that?’ or ‘let’s try and get there again.”

    11. Opening up on the road

    “After this many years, man, there’s nothing awesome about it all, except the moments. Those moments, when you’re not a musician, you’re not even a person – you’re just there.”

    12. Being tough on yourself while on the road

    “I guess. No tougher than I want everyone else to be. Slap me around if I’m loosenin’ up.”

    13. Phil’s best life advice

    “It’s not age, it’s experience. Only time can give you mayonnaise.”

    14. On his passion for making music with the surviving Dead members.

    “Sometimes it happens onstage, or sometimes in rehearsal,” Lesh writes of his post-Grateful Dead ensembles, “but it always leaves me breathless and wonder-struck: The music is still there, waiting for us to approach, to open ourselves, to let it pass through us.”

    15. Phil hearing Jerry Garcia performing the ballad “Matty Groves” at a party in East Palo Alto

    “Jerry’s delivery was both spine-tingling and blood- curdling, presented without histrionics and with a fearless objectivity — just letting the song speak for itself. That was my first intimation that music with that kind of directness and simplicity could deliver an aesthetic and emotional payoff comparable to that of the greatest operatic or symphonic works. Needless to say, I was blown away.”