It was my college roommate, Matt Ford, who introduced me to the music of the Grateful Dead. I remember listening to Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty and hearing the harmony and beauty in the music. Listening to Aoxomoxoa and hearing “China Cat Sunflower” made me feel like I had known the song all my life, even though it was the first time I had ever heard it.
The summer after my freshman year was 1987. The Dead released their first album in six years, In the Dark, which included their only charted single, “Touch of Grey”. I had also met Julie that year, and had gone to visit her in Tucson during the summer of 1987. I can remember driving around Tucson in her yellow Datsun, listening to her brother’s radio station KRQ, and talking about the new Grateful Dead album. Not that she cared at all about the Grateful Dead; she was showing interest in me and my interests. I was 18 years old and oblivious to such subtleties.
I was playing that song again tonight, and remembered back to those days. I thought, “Wow, that song came out in 1987. That was 20 years ago! … Wait, no … that can’t be right … 30 years ago?!?!”
“Oh well, a touch of grey, kind of suits you anyway…”
That line has a lot more meaning for me now than it did when I was 18.