Bob Weir was never a particularly outspoken member of the Grateful Dead during the band’s 30 years of active performing. The Dead were the kind of band that never even spoke to their audience at all, aside from the occasional jokes and banter while their crew worked on a quick-fix of any malfunctioning gear.
The 72-year-old musician has remained adamant in the 25 years since Garcia’s death that the band never wanted to use the stage as a political pulpit or podium, but it is worth noting that the Dead were also never ones to shy away from playing a benefit event focused around social issues of the late 1960s and early ’70s. In the past few years, however, as the Grateful Dead brand has continued to grow back to a size rivaling the height of their popularity in the early 1990s, Weir has begun to open up more about his personal thoughts on life, ranging from his love for fitness to the dreams he still has which involve his old pal Jerry Garcia.
Over the weekend, Weir was the featured interview guest during an episode of the Comes A Time podcast, the new series hosted by Bob’s Dead & Company bandmate Oteil Burbridge and comedian Mike Finoia. The topics of discussion included what Weir learned from his experiences at the Acid Tests, what it was like playing a RatDog show on the same day Garcia died in August 1995, the inexplicable mysticism that seemed to follow the Dead, the idea of death itself, and even the highly-publicized protest demonstrations taking place in cities across the country since late May.
When asked by Burbridge if he had any advice for younger generations today dealing with mass protests pushing for drastic social change similar to the youth movement of the ’60s, Weir opened up about his own views on authoritarianism and moving society forward. Weir responded by first reading an inspiring quote by the San Francisco Giants manager regarding players kneeling during the “Star-Spangled-Banner”, and reiterated that everyone involved in protests right now needs to keep things peaceful. Period.
“There are folks who would love nothing more than to make this into a civil war basically,” Weir said to start out. “And it is a ‘civil war,’ but their armaments are rubber bullets and tear gas and that kind of stuff. If you’re on the side of the peaceful protestor, your armament is ideas, and I’ve gotta say that we’ve got them outgunned.”
The question you gotta ask yourself is, ‘Do you want to win this confrontation, or do you just want to pop off?’ Keep cool. Keep peaceful. Don’t play their game. Keep it peaceful, and stick with it. Mahatma Gandhi wrote the playbook. He was a man of intense peace and he got that across to people. You will prevail and the right thing will prevail. The right ideas will prevail because that’s the nature of evolution, but, you gotta toe the line and keep it peaceful. Don’t take their bait … I’m firmly with those folks. If they bring those [Federal] troops to Oakland, then I’m gonna be hard-pressed to stay home, and though I should be since I’m not in the age bracket where you should be out and about, but that’s where I want to be. We have the ideas, we have the feeling, We’re right. We’re correct. Our footsteps are headed in the right direction, and their footsteps are headed in no direction because their heels are dug in. The river will move forward, and the river will finally make it to the sea, you just have to know that. Go about what you have to do, but do it with peace.
Listen to the entire episode with Bob Weir via the Spotify player below and subscribe to Comes A Time here.
Comes A Time Podcast – Episode 3: Bob Weir