Grateful Dead Home Movies on YouTube
There’s a moment in Part 8 of the Grateful Dead Home Movies where Jerry Garcia, scuba diving in Hawaii, motions the fish to come closer to him. Like Deadheads swaying back and forth to the sound of his guitar, they obey. It’s as if they somehow recognize him as the pied piper he is and they too feel the need to be in the front row, swirling around him. A soundtrack of Elvis Costello crooning the Garcia/Hunter ballad, “Ship of Fools,” plays over the images. Then, a sudden hard cut to the Grateful Dead on stage, somewhere in America circa 1988.
Sometime very recently, these home videos appeared on YouTube. In total, they have not garnered many views yet but, if you are a Deadhead like me who spent much of his music leisure time following the band during the Brent Mydland years, they offer an analog look into the often banal, sometimes insightful lives of the band back stage, traveling from show to show, and in the studio. The videos are credited to SirMick but I can only assume that the guy behind the camera is Justin Kreutzmann, the son of drummer Bill Kreutzmann. Justin’s been a longtime video guy and a sort of de facto VP of Moving Images inside the Dead org.
You have to really care to sift through these videos, it’s not for casual fans. They are not edited so much as hacked together and they were captured pre-digital video; looking more like an 80’s video version of washed out super8 movies. But for die hard fans of this era, it’s worth sifting through them. I found, for example, the only footage I’ve seen of the night in Hampton, VA when they tried Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up.” I attended the show and recall the aborted attempt that night as a great example of the Dead’s charm — they’d try almost anything once, despite doing it in front of 20,000 people and, if they fell on their face, all the better for the laughs and kicks.
Here’s part one: