Sunday, June 26, 2016

we are each other

I met Mrs. Pincus in February 1982. I wish I could say differently, but, it was not love at first sight. As a matter of fact, she thought I was the most obnoxious person she had ever met and I was hitting on her girlfriend. But, soon, a spark ignited. We had a lot in common and we fell in love and the rest is Pincus history.

While we explored our common interests, there was one subject we decided was off-limits — music. We decided if we ever ran out of things to talk about, we would ask each other: "What kind of music do you like?" and that would pretty much be the end. We would have exhausted all there was to discuss between us. So, we never — in 34 years — asked the question.

But, of course, we knew. How could we not? I had records and tapes when we met and so did Mrs. P. Jeez! We even went record shopping together. We darn well knew each other's favorite band. Mine was Queen and hers was The Grateful Dead. We couldn't have picked a more opposite pairing if we tried. Queen, with its flashy stage show and multiple costume changes, was noted for its chameleon-like musical style falling somewhere between Led Zeppelin and George Formby. The Grateful Dead, on the other hand, was a group of tenacious, psychedelic 60s holdovers, purveying its inimitable brand of atmospheric opuses to the spacey delight of the most rabid and loyal fans in the history of modern music. I was taken to my first Grateful Dead concert one month after I met the future Mrs. P. I was bored and unimpressed. I took my bride-to-be to her first (and, to date, only) Queen concert a few weeks later. She hated it.

I went to a dozen or so additional Dead shows in the years following. Mrs. P, however, was spared prolonged exposure as Queen had eliminated North America from all of its subsequent touring schedules. Soon afterward, Queen's flamboyant chanteur, Freddie Mercury, passed away. Four years later, The Grateful Dead's iconic sage, Jerry Garcia died.

Then things got eerie.

Considering how different — how polar opposite — Queen and The Grateful Dead were, their fate took a very similar path. Very similar.

Liar, liar everything you do is sin
Immediately after Freddie Mercury died, the remaining three members of Queen laid low, shunning the spotlight after a tribute concert for their departed colleague. Bassist John Deacon retired from the music business entirely. Guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor began to get a little antsy. Obviously they were not ready to call it a career. They had more music left in them. They soon teamed up with former Bad Company/Free singer Paul Rodgers and mounted a tour called "Queen + Paul Rodgers." They performed songs from the Queen catalog as well as hits from Bad Company. They frequently capped off their shows with the popular Free anthem "All Right Now." More recently, May and Taylor recruited American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert, a much younger vocalist with decidedly more pop-leaning talents, to fill Mercury's glittery shoes. At the same time, Brian May has been busily licensing Queen's music to every commercial entity that will wave a fistful of money in his direction. Queen songs have been featured in ads for PetSmart, Lay's Potato Chips, Diet Coke, The Gap and others. Brian May, taking the role as earthly spokesman on behalf of his late collaborator, has said (with a straight face), "Freddie would have approved of this." In the 25 years since Mercury's death, and despite several lucrative tours, there has been no new music attributed to Queen. They're just resting on their laurels.

He's gone, gone,
nothin's gonna bring him back
Faithful Dead Heads predicted the demise of their heroes in the wake of Jerry Garcia's death. Surprisingly, the band soldiered on, forming and reforming as "The Other Ones," "The Dead," "Furthur" and currently "Dead and Company," each version including a revolving roster of former members of the original, Jerry-less Grateful Dead, fortified with additional musicians. Their repertoire consisted of the 50-plus year Dead library of songs plus a number of familiar covers that had become concert staples. In a scene right out of the Mark Wahlberg film Rock Star, founding (and surviving) member Bob Weir once shared vocal duties with John Kadlecik, the leader of The Dark Star Orchestra, a Grateful Dead tribute band. Now, they are back on tour with the addition of John Mayer, a much younger guitarist with decidedly more pop-leaning talents. In the 21 years since Garcia's death, and despite several lucrative tours, there has been no new music attributed to The Grateful Dead. They're just resting on their.... well, you know.

It's interesting how two bands from different backgrounds with different musical directions ended up in such a similar situation. And, of all the bands in the world, my wife and I chose those two bands as our respective favorites.

The golden road to unlimited devotion. Funny how love is.


  1. I like Queen, Adam Lambert, and the Grateful Dead. Glad you had a good garage sale. Sometimes I think it's good to mix with the common people over old treasures :)