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Saturday, July 25, 2015

"A Shitty Father"

The title of this post comes from Garcia daughter Annabelle's remarks at his funeral on 8/11/95, probably not said in anger, almost certainly considerably true.

I don't recall Jerry speaking so frankly about this issue as here, ca. July 1981: 
I have a family – I am talking about the woman I used to live with, and my kids—and I visit them. They certainly mean something to me, but they are not the focus of my life, and they know it. It’s been hard for me to come to grips with some of this, because these are people that I care about … Music is my life. There's nothing I love more than music. 
Van Matre, Lynn. 1981. Jerry Garcia Keeps the Spirit of the Grateful Dead Alive. Chicago Tribune, July 5, p. D11.

p.s. in looking up Annabelle's remarks, I have found two versions quoted:


  1. Wow . . incredible .. never seen that quote before

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  3. Yeah, it knocked me out, too. There was the GD, there was John Kahn, and then everyone and everything else.

  4. There's that creepy PSA for birth control that uses snippets of some Garcia interview: "I was definitely not ready to be a parent when I had a first kid. I never have been that kid's parent as a result, I mean, I never have, really. Now I'm a different person and I have kids now and I like 'em a lot." But this is just brutal.

  5. Some people simply are not meant to be parents. I'm one of them. My parents were two of them and I learned from their mistakes! But I can still "parent" vicariously and love the freedom from the karmic responsibility.

  6. Garcia had a rather genial view of the family issue. For instance, in his October '91 Rolling Stone interview, he said, "My other daughters have all been very good to me, insofar as they've never blamed me for my absentee parenting. And it was tough for them, really, because during the sixties and seventies, I was gone all the time. But they've all grown up to be pretty decent people, and they still like me. We still talk. But I never did get to spend a lot of time with them."

    While we're on the subject, it's worth mentioning that by 1981, music was not his main love anymore. Annabelle Garcia reminisced about the father-daughter bond in the early '80s:
    "He'd call me up on the phone and nod off while he was on the phone. There was nothing I could do except wait til he woke up and then finish the conversation. That kind of stuff is naturally really disturbing. It was a long period of time my father wasn't himself at all. I'd go visit him and nothing would happen - I'd just sit there and watch him burn holes in things with cigarettes and fall asleep and then wake up, do more drugs and then fall asleep and wake up and do some more. It was really awful...
    "There wasn't much I could do. I felt really young and real small and he was so grumpy at those times anyway. I was half-scared of him a lot of the time... I realized that most of the reason he was doing it was because he was so damn bored. He had his music, but that was about it. He couldn't go outside anymore because so many people bugged him...
    "Everybody else in the band and the roadies and all the women would say, 'Well, why don't you say something?' And I'd say, 'I'm sorry, but I don't want to sever any bonds with my father. I'm afraid that if I say anything to him, he won't want to see me anymore.' That was my big fear at 13 or 14 years old."
    (Jackson, Garcia p. 332)

    The last time Annabelle saw him in 1995, she brought her fiance to meet him: "He was very nervous...he was expected to do some fatherly thing, and he was always terrified of that kind of stuff - having to lecture or give opinions or advice. He was very hands-off, and this was putting him on the spot a bit." (Jackson p.441)

    1. Garcia talks about his kids to Mary Eisenhart in 1987:
      "[My kids] have their own agendas and their own priorities, and the things that concern me and concern them don't overlap that much...
      There really isn't much of a problem. My kids have a real good sense of humor. I think that's their forte. And that's going to work for them almost better than anything else. They're also bright, so I think that combination of being bright and having a good sense of humor in this life is going to really help.
      And as far as I'm concerned, they're away clean. If they have problems...they're not weighed down with them, from my point of view... And they seem to handle what comes their way pretty well.
      I try not to mess with them, and I've always made an effort to stay out of their way so they had plenty of room to grow up. I've never tried to drag them into things, or turn them on to things, or impose my viewpoint on them, or any of that stuff, and I've always wanted them to see their own way, to let their own imaginations lead them around. And they seem to be doing okay on those levels, and in fact they can functionally disregard me pretty well... They're holding their own...
      In my world it's tough to get away from that sort of egocentric thing. In my world there's a lot of stuff about me in it. They've learned to take that with a grain of salt. And they get a certain exposure to the rock 'n' roll world, but they can come and go as they please. They don't feel compelled in any particular way there. So I think they're doing okay.
      But you should ask them. If you can get 'em to talk, they're pretty funny. They're a good interview."

    2. That actually makes him sound like an awesome father in all kinds of ways!

  7. "The Grateful Dead has become the focus of all of our lives, even though we have families and children. The GD - that's the center" (Garcia ca. October 1989, in Goodman 1989, 74).

  8. JG 1991 "My relationship with the GD family is way closer than anything I've got with any of my blood relatives."

    ! ref: Jackson and Gans 2015, 388.

  9. Sage Scully, in Greenfield 1996, 198: "What happened to me was that you lose what you think a normal parent should be to you to the band and the drugs and the schedule. You begin to take a backseat and I think I felt it and Annabelle must have felt it like I did in my life. It was hard to understand that this was how it was."


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