I always knew I was going to love the Grateful Dead.

I’m pretty sure I went to a Dead show when I was in utero (my parents saw a lot of the Dead in Merced during the 70s), though I didn’t hear them played at home since my mom wasn’t into them like that.

When Jerry Garcia died it was a *moment* for a lot of people. I remember our Bay Area high school campus was aflutter when the news broke and some of my teachers were broken up. I didn’t get it. (Yet!)

Kind of like coffee, beer and whiskey were acquired tastes, I knew there was some threshold I needed to pass through to find the yummy of Grateful Dead music.

I tried to listen to concerts recommended by friends but I didn’t get hooked.

When Andy Cohen posted his protocol to help Jimmy Fallon learn to love the Dead on his Instagram Stories (link to the highlight!) I screen shotted every week’s assignment. I figured I would get to it when I had the chance.

Cue the pandemic just a few months later. When I first moved into the RV I now live in I wasn’t going to have internet service for an undetermined amount of time because the folks who run my awesome mountain internet weren’t installing during the first few months of the pandemic.

I could work during the day on my laptop at my mom’s art studio but when I came home for bed I only had access to what I downloaded to my phone.

I would wind down with the three songs from the Dead catalog that were the week’s assignment.

I had been sober from the Housewives at that point about six months, but somehow Andy Cohen still owned my nights! Listening to the Grateful Dead is far more soothing than listening to privileged women fighting over bullshit.

Here’s the protocol from Andy!

Listen to as many live versions of each of these songs as you can each week! You start to hear and understand the songs, pick up favorites, etc…

Week One: Althea, Uncle John’s Band, Fire on the Mountain

Week Two: Bertha, Shakedown Street, Scarlett Begonias

Week Three: Ripple, Brokedown Palace, He’s Gone

Week Four: St. Stephen, China Cat Sunflower, I Know You Rider (note the latter two are almost exclusively played back to back in that order)

Week Five: Brown Eyed Woman, Franklin’s Tower, US Blues

Week Six: Eyes of the World, Casey Jones, Terrapin Station (Andy’s favorite, which did sway me to also adopt it as an early fav–highly recommend for stargazing!!)

Week Seven: Jack Straw, Estimated Prophet, Morning Dew

Week Eight: Ramble on Rose, Cold Rain & Snow, Dark Star

Extra Credit (by me, this is me adding to the Cohen Curriculum): Use plant medicine and listen to Drums & Space from literally any show. The band “plays” and I find it incredibly soothing and a great journey.

I am a late in life cannabis user so it makes sense that my love for the Grateful Dead came after I embraced plant medicine. I think cannabis pairs impeccably with the Dead.

Andy Cohen recommends Cheeba Chews and if you’re lucky enough to live in a state where they sell them I co-sign–seriously a high vibe party edible.

This is the playlist I made on Spotify to use for the Cohen Curriculum. I literally just grabbed random versions for this initial playlist. I mixed it up with Dead & Co. because I love the evolution of the music over time and John Mayer on guitar and vocals is a chef’s kiss addition to this incredible music.

My hope is that over the years I’ll have all of my personal favorite versions of each song on this playlist but that’s gonna come in time. You can tell which songs I got really into because there are a lot of versions on the playlist! My current top favs are Touch of Grey, Ripple, Terrapin Station, Brokedown Palace, Truckin’.

The Grateful Dead bring me so much joy that I can put on a concert for my walk in the woods and it makes me dance like a leprechaun (as reported by a neighbor passing me on the trail).

After the eighth week I was telling my friend Sonia how much I love the Dead now and she said, “You gotta watch A Long Strange Trip on Amazon Prime.” She is not a Deadhead but had watched the documentary series.

It’s AMAZING. I have now watched it three times. I have more questions than answers. This is how I know I’m passionate about something, my curiosity is just unending. Like with cannabis there’s so much to learn to expand enjoyment of the Dead experience!

Graduate School: Watch A Long Strange Trip!

I now listen to live shows and discover new (to me) songs all the time. What a delightful moment it was the weekend I fell down the Music Never Stopped rabbit hole! I insist you begin your exploration of that song with the 1975 studio recording because it is a PARTY. Saxophone!!

The songs evolve, the band has eras and there is so much to know about more than five decades of making music!

After a year and a half of loving the Dead I have taught many songs as part of my aerobics classes and did a whole Dead tribute class in April for a special feminist cannabis online event.

You can now “follow” Dead shows from the comfort and safety of home since they are live streamed. (If it was in my budget I would 100% pay for the season, the shows are shot so well and it is a musical entheogenic experience.)

Dead & Co. has really great social media, especially when they are on the road. They broadcast the first song of each set for free on their Facebook and it was a delightful thing for me during Second Pandemic Summer.

I wasn’t sure when I was going to fully identify as a Deadhead but Merriam-Webster defines a Deadhead as a devoted fan of the rock group the Grateful Dead and that’s me for real!

Many thanks to Mr. Andy Cohen for creating an onramp to pandemic joy for me!

(And he still owns my nights! Have you listened to Mariah Carey’s audiobook from his publishing company yet??)

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