I don’t mind signing autographs after shows. Really, I don’t. I don’t mind taking photos with intoxicated frat-boys. It doesn’t even really bother me to sit there with my arm around an even more intoxicated old woman while her husband fumbles his way around the digital camera. I am absolutely thrilled to smile and take photos with pretty young girls. I am only slightly less thrilled to take photos with their mothers. Even when their lipstick smears across my favorite shirt and they reach back and make a drunken grope for my ass, it doesn’t bother me. (most of the time, they miss anyways) Seriously, I’m happy to do it. Really. I’m thankful to the fans that pay money to come see us play and I do my best to give back the little extras that seem to make a difference in their lives.
There was a time when I was extraordinarily shy and did not like meet and greets, photographs or signing anything. I was embarrassed by the whole ordeal. I would do them, but never by my own account. Usually it was a contractual obligation and I was more or less forced to. I would sign tickets, CDs and tee shirts as quickly as I could and then go into hiding feeling embarrassed and ashamed. I’ve never felt like a “star”, and quite frankly, I still don’t. But I am proud to say, I am no longer freaked out by the whole thing.
Although I must report something that has been on my mind: It seems that in the past year or so, the system has gotten a little out of hand at times. I’ve been offering myself up after shows for chit-chat, autographs and photos at nearly every show that it was possible to do so. I have to admit, sometimes I feel like i’m being taken advantage of though. Sometimes I feel a little trapped, so to speak.
It was just the other night when we played a show to a packed house at a small club. No sooner did I leave the stage and step outside for a much needed smoke break, a multitude of people swarmed over and trapped me against the wall. Everybody talking at once, thrusting out tickets to be signed, touching my hair (I have no idea why) and asking why we didn’t play their favorite song. As I said, I’m happy to do this part of the job. But I got the strange feeling that I was being “used up”, as I didn’t even really have time to get a drink of water before the madness ensued. After an hour or so, the crowd dissolved and I was left standing with my back to the brick wall of this dirty building. I was glad to see so many people very happy and fulfilled, but I was just plain burnt.
I love the Grateful Dead’s music. It’s true. I didn’t always, though. After I began playing and singing with Phil Lesh, I started to appreciate it more. Over time, it grew on me and I began to love it. In many ways, the Dead are more relevant now than perhaps they ever were. Particularly in the business realm. Musically, they were certainly pioneers and deserve every ounce of musical credit given to them. But really, when it comes to music business – they were truly ahead of their time.
Having professed my love for their music, I must say that I’m a tad annoyed at the fact that sometimes all people want to hear is Sugaree. I love that song. Sure, yeah. You got me. But really, I can sing other stuff, too. I like the Beatles as much as the Dead. Probably more. I like the Velvet Underground, Tom Waits and Merle Haggard just as much too. And believe or not, I even like singing some of my own songs. In fact, that’s why I’m here to begin with. I refuse to be reduced to a Grateful Dead cover band, and if that means never singing Sugaree again…so be it. There will be a time in the not-too-distant future, when Dead songs will show up in our set as a rarity. Not a regularity.
Okay, okay. So I’m being over-dramatic. (i’m good at that. ask any of my ex-girlfriends!) But seriously, I just had to mention that because I’m bored and in a hotel room in Nowhere, Michigan and it was on my mind.
So as it stands, I’m still into doing the request via internet experiment. If you’ve not heard, this is how it works: If there’s a show coming up that you know you’ll be attending, and there’s a song that you really want to hear, you cant let me know. Make sure to send your name, and which show you will be at. (It’s amazing how often that part gets left out)
You can either send it via Twitter ( jackie_greene ), which is the preferred way and more likely to get read, or send it via old-fashioned email: firstname.lastname@example.org The table is open to suggest anything you’d like to hear. There are a few exceptions: “Freebird”, “Stairway to Heaven” and “Mustang Sally” are instantly deleted and the cliche police will show up at your door to arrest you if you suggest these. Grateful Dead songs are all considered. However, if you send in nothing but a set list full of Dead songs, your imagination license will be revoked and you will be directed to archive.org.
Speaking of the internet….very soon, you will be able to download the “Small Tempest” on itunes, amazon and several other places. For the vinyl nerds (like me) we will be pressing a cool 10” for sale through the web and at shows only.
Until next time – Jackie