Thursday, August 11, 2005

Casey Jones' Conservative Child

Although I have fairly eclectic musical tastes, one group that I never got into was the Grateful Dead. While attending Fordham University from 1971 through 1975, I heard more Dead songs than I care to remember. Not that I disliked their music, but rather I just couldn't relate to it.

However, I've always found Deadheads themselves to be fascinating. Many were unconventional to the point of being legally insane. All of them were politically left of center. Or so I thought, until I came across this:

And yet, 10 years to the day after Jerry Garcia's death on August 9, 1995, no less than three of Generation X's most high-profile young conservatives remain dedicated Deadheads: Deroy Murdock, Tucker Carlson, and Ann Coulter....

Deroy Murdock, a nationally syndicated columnist and contributing editor with National Review Online, is also a veteran of 69 Grateful Dead concerts, by his count. "It's easy to reconcile my affection and admiration for Ronald Reagan and Jerry Garcia: They both were committed to individual freedom," Mr. Murdock attests. "The patriotism and love of country that Reagan embodied, Garcia also reflected. I remember the sole American flag waving on top of the stage at outdoor Grateful Dead shows as well as the patriotic lyrics, with their iconography of the Old West: cowboys, gambling in saloons, and steam trains crossing the prairies."...

Tucker Carlson, who now hosts a nightly show, "The Situation," on MSNBC, is a veteran of more than 50 Grateful Dead concerts and still listens to the Dead every day at home with his wife and children. "Following the Grateful Dead was one of the last structured-but-wild things you could do in America, at least when I was in high school and college," Mr. Carlson said. "I always liked how apolitical the band was, at least in public. Garcia's position seemed to be: 'We're just musicians. We're not here to tell you what to do or how to think.' He was totally opposed to lectures - giving or receiving them. He was the opposite of the self-righteous liberals who ran the schools I went to."...

...Ann Coulter is fond of pointing out her love for the Grateful Dead as a way of disarming critics, but it is tough to imagine how Jerry Garcia would appreciate her book-length defense of Joseph McCarthy. Likewise, her comment to a interviewer who asked, "So it's up to the community to decide whether or not to burn queers in the public square?" - Ms. Coulter replied, "Right. That preserved the maximum freedom" - doesn't exactly reek of "live and let live" libertarianism. Nonetheless, Ms. Coulter counts herself a fan, and all the protests in the world can't erase that fact.

I guess if that trio can openly admit to be Deadheads, then it's safe for me to admit that there's one Grateful Dead song that I liked:

Driving that train, high on cocaine,
Casey Jones you better watch your speed.
Trouble ahead, trouble behind,
And you know that notion just crossed my mind.

Does anyone know where you can buy a tie-dyed shirt?

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