"Every song I'd learn was like opening a new Christmas present. I'd go home and listen to tapes and sometimes I'd be so elated that I'd have tears running down my face". -Vince Welnick on learning the Dead's repertoire
Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, delivered my college commencement speech. Though we expected a talk of Auschwitz and other factories of death, he instead spoke of a navy admiral who had committed suicide over a few medals. His address ended with a hospital of children who had survived camps in 1945. When they realized the apathy of the world, then they let themselves slide into death.
The lesson: "Never allow anyone " Wiesel urged, " to feel that he or she has been neglected, abandoned by their fellow human beings."
The wake of Vince Welnick's sudden passing has brought with it, in this reporter's humble estimation, speculation rather than sympathy, and comparison rather than compassion.
Let's not lose sight of the fact that this was a human being.
Now, when you sign up to be a rock-n-roll musician, your work becomes an open book for the fans to rip through, so have at it. As David Gans said, "Like all the great teams, the Dead have their pennant years and bleak innings, perfect games and whippings, hits and foul balls, heroes and goats."
Similarly, we all have our favorite keyboardist. Sure, Vinnie never bled blues like Pig, or was our working class hero like Brent. He was probably more akin to Keith, but either way, he sat in the proverbial hot corner, and took that seat when it was ever-so-absent.
But imagine, you finally make it, and here's this font of talent, this foil of Garcia in Hornsby, waiting to grab any sliver of limelight, or deep purple, that Jer left slip through the cracks.
Many of my fondest memories of Jerry, sweeping up the denizens of Deadlands like dusty souls with his magic broom, were shared by Vinnie. Hell, he helped create them.
I think Vince's plans A.G. best describe his persona: "I plan to carry on in the tradition of the Dead as much as I can, but respectfully and without trying to steal the thunder. I want to be with those people [Deadheads] and to serve the music, just like Jerry did". Amen.
Statements just seem vain. Go take a listen to the 10/31/91 Oakland 'Scarlet>Fire', or the 93 Cap Centre breakout of 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds'.
No one can say Vinnie didn't serve the music.
We all grapple with our demons, and take things hard, like the death of The Old Man, or merely the everyday struggle.
Of course he described learning new Dead songs like Christmas presents. Vince remembered: "The first time I ever laid eyes on Jerry I believed in Santa Claus. He could be ornery at times, but that was his body talking, not his soul. Because I never met a kinder man in the whole world".
"Everybody's asking the big question, and love is the answer. And I'll always believe in Santa Claus".
of Each Other,
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Rider Reflects - 1.13.06
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