It’s kind of fashionable to dig the Grateful Dead these days, which is good because I dig the band’s first four or five records a lot and had an oh-so-brief flirtation with collecting bootlegs and such in 1992. But the live noodling never did it for me compared to the surprisingly jam-free records, and then I discovered Bob Mould and Pavement and The Cure and such. Those guys saved me from falling down the jam band rabbit hole and I emerged relatively unscathed, never owning more than one Dave Matthews Band record. (Yeah, I owned one. “Remember Two Things”, the Magic Eye one. I might still have it around here somewhere. Stop laughing.)
The team behind Election (yay!) and Little Miss Sunshine (lesser yay!) and Hamlet 2 (didn’t see it!) are putting together a biopic covering Jerry Garcia’s early years. I’m wondering who exactly is going to care–remember, this is about his life before the Dead. We’re not going to see a step-by-step recreation of the recording of American Beauty, which is what I’d want to see. We’re not even going to get an obligatory trying-to-kick-the-junk scene.
OK, I’d still watch it, sure, but I’m a guy who gets teary-eyed listening to “Box of Rain.” (Stop laughing.) What I wonder is whether Dead fans will “travel,” so to speak, to watch a fictionalized version of their hero’s life. After all, Dead fans are not as homogeneous as one might think. There are the classic road fans, the “trading beads for weed in the parking lot” crew, and I just don’t see those as a moviegoing lot. There are the new jam fans, who seem to be more enamored with Phish and String Cheese Incident than anything else. Then there’s the frat boy contingent, who showed up late in the game to generally act like drunk jerks, which is their way. They’ll probably skip this one for whatever romantic comedy their girlfriends want to see. (Don’t stop laughing.) Basically, all I see that’s left are the indie-rock closet fans (like, uh, me) and maybe the boomer crowd that wants to take one last trip through the Wild and Wonderful ’60s. To be fair, I find the Haight-Ashbury scene to have been remarkably sanitized onscreen thus far, so maybe this could be like the Saving Private Ryan of the psychedelic ’60s, sans the saluting old man who ruined everything at the end. Maybe the makers can dial up the verisimilitude for once and dial down the majestic, twinkly-eyed look back on the times that were a-changin’.
What do you think? Would you go see a Jerry Garcia biopic? Would you go see it if it included the finger-chopping-off incident? And don’t you think Jerry sort of looks like Billy Crudup?