50 Years of American Beauty — A Letter to Evan

[November 2, 2020, 7:44 am, Boisahabi Tea Estate]

“Bill, remember, play full value. Make four beats really be a full four beats. Don’t rush to the end of the bar.” — Jerry Garcia to Bill Kruetzmann

Dear Evan,

It will be an understatement to say that I will never forget that morning when we walked with coffee in our hands, out of the Starbucks in Russell House, and you told me about Ripple — if I remember it was in response to Rudyard Kipling’s If. I visit that memory often. It’s one my most precious memories of our friendship that provided me, in that instant, a life-long enduring cathartic validation. I remember, thereafter, listening to Ripple and the whole American Beauty album, and continue to today. I barely have words to express myself, Evan, but I feel tears in my eyes. I miss you, Evan. It’s hard to imagine I am so far away from you because your loving wisdom is always with me — I was so lost, confused, and scared, Evan, till I met you, and you helped me recover a part of myself that I had lost. 

Following are two lovely short pieces of interview I heard on NPR, which I visited to get American election news, but was so glad that I found the news of American Beauty’s 50th year anniversary instead! The first one is by a young girl doing an interview on American Beauty’s 50th anniversary and how Ripple is her favorite song. I love how in the 2nd interview with Bill Kreutzmann, the interviewer, Steve Inskeep of NPR, calls The Grateful Dead “ambassadors of American culture”, which feels particularly relevant in our times when such American culture, such American beauty, feels, at best, to be tucked away in places that I feel lucky to have found. My favorite part is at the end of the interview, when Bill talks about the essence of what Jerry Garcia taught him — “Bill, remember, play full value. Make four beats really be a full four beats. Don’t rush to the end of the bar.” 

As I was listening to Bill talking about Jerry Garcia, I could not help but think about me and you, as Bill and Jerry Garcia, respectively. 

1. https://www.npr.org/2020/11/01/929590045/two-deadheads-from-two-generations-on-american-beauty-at-50

2. https://www.npr.org/2015/05/12/404225191/jerry-garcias-advice-to-bill-kreutzmann-dont-rush