Thursday, July 16, 2015
The Ripple In the Still Water of My Mind
Dave Baum (at least that’s what people called me in my early 20’s)
I’ve been asking people for the last two weeks: what’s priceless and free at the same time. The purpose of the question was an idea I had on vacation, and it became a sermon I wrote, but I was so moved by the responses I received. Perhaps the most profound and thought provoking response I received was memory, the power or process of reproducing or recalling what has been learned, retained, and/or experienced. The first words, learned and retained, were found in a dictionary, but I added that last one: experienced.
As the Grateful Dead played their last shows, fans all over the world could listen and watch, in a movie theater, or in comfort of their own homes, and be a part of the magic of the Dead, live. Actually, the Dead Heads, the devoted fans of the Grateful Dead, might have been the innovators of this concept. They tried to contain memories in a bottle, so moved by the music; they started taping songs at live shows and spreading them throughout the ‘community’.
Read more about the tapers section (NY Times): ‘Tapers’ at the Grateful Dead Concerts Spread the Audio Sacrament
I remember the first bootleg tape I had ever received at age of fifteen. It was an unusual cassette tape for the time – grey and hard plastic, with no markings on it, no information as to when and where the music came from. There was no Shazaam back then, and the internet was in its infancy, so trying to find the origins of the show was impossible.
The tape is long gone, lost, but I hold with me, in my memories, a couple of the songs (in random order): Bird Song; Cold Rain and Snow; Dire Wolf; Deep Ellem Blues…Ripple.
The cassette tape is empty when it begins, it is created like any other tape, indistinguishable from the next, until it is imprinted with an experience…
As I think about that tape, I think back to the times I was driving at 16, blasting these tunes, the melodies and lyrics growing on me with each ride, with the windows down and sunroof open, the wind blowing through my hair (when I had it), touching my face, in my 1990 Gold Volvo (incidentally, my friends named it the Baum Bus we would always pack as many people in as possible).
Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow
Today, I’m delving back into the priceless but free – my memories of this glorious music. I enter back into the shows I attended, where the music was once played. The ripple in the still water of my mind– the memories rush back.
There’s nothing like going to a ‘show’, especially with people you love. My favorite shows have been with my brother. We stood in the crowd, listening and moving to the music, guessing, pondering, with each pluck of guitar, or sound of the drum;
waiting with anticipation to hear what is going to play next.
I am now at Camp Ramah Darom, a place steeped in memories of my young adulthood, when the songs of the Grateful Dead were always with me. As I travel to different places, the memories long gone flood back.
The ripple in the still water of my mind– they are truly priceless, and they are always there, sometimes buried, sometimes present, but always there waiting for me.