Moses Come Ridin’

Moses Come Ridin’

Gizah Light And Sound
Grateful Dead Play During Lunar Eclipse in Egypt

Not to distract from the continuous release of the portions of the part of the book I wanted to have published with Rhino records (which I’ve discovered makes no sense when put out in sections), but I can’t help but to appreciate the heaviness of what happened in September of 1978. Really. First of all, you have to get with the idea that the pyramids of Egypt are heavy already. I know, the stones are so big, they’re super heavy. But I mean heavy in the hipster sense, although I learned that Hipsters today are all about being nonplussed and basically apathetic to anything. It’s their whole identity. So I mean heavy in the ‘far out’ sense, like that is so far out there that matter is leaden with weight. The pyramids of Egypt are certainly heavy, and yet there is all sorts of conspiracy theory about them, too, like they were totally built by space people to instruct our race about all the stuff that was beyond our mental and spiritual capacity, so they gave us these mathematically significant structures that challenge your ability to figure out how anyone could have moved a single stone, let alone piled them up to form these perfect pyramids. In fact, it is likely the pyramid existed only on sketches, until the space people came and laid them all together, and said, “Here, this is what we’re talking about. This is a pyramid.” So you look at it and go, “Oh, yeah, I see it. That’s what you’re talking about.” And furthermore, think of all the secret messages written in them, and how they are laden with insight about celestial observation, and how the Egyptians seemed obsessed with the journey of the dead soul in the afterlife, that these massive structures were basically space-traveling coffins.

Yeah, that’s heavy. But I’m talking about the Grateful Dead playing in front of them. It wasn’t an easy gig to book, I’m sure. There was all that Israeli-Egyptian conflict going on that the Carter administration felt the oblige (say with a french accent) to mediate. In the midst of it all, Sadat would surely say, “You guys have some hippies that want to come desecrate our national treasure? Sure. Visas for everyone.” It was an odd diplomatic corps, led by Phil Lesh, who went to the State Department to get hooked in with the right people (read: get high with Washington politicos), and ultimately it was Sadat’s wife Jehan that made this thing happen. She sat in the front row on the first night. The history of mankind is full of events (come on, man, seriously?). But it’s the coinciding of events that creates a special moment in time. Space people land and build massive structures to remind us that we’re small and alone. Beat slackers get together and drop acid made by the CIA for mind control experiments, forming a musical entity. Nations war against nations in the name of all kinds of stupid shit. The First Lady of Egypt takes a liking to a slender bass player with perfect pitch (ear, not mouth), and we’ve got a Grateful Dead show at the most far out place on the planet. Oddly enough, the shows were scheduled for September 14th and 15th, with a third night added for the 16th. The Camp David Accords were signed on the 17th, which led to the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty in 1979, scoring Begin and Sadat the Nobel Peace Prize. And the whole thing happens during a lunar eclipse. When I start to lose all faith, it’s the coalescing of events like this that makes me feel like an idiot for forgetting that the cosmic mechanisms are way heavier than I could ever fathom.

In keeping with the rule shared by sitcoms and rock albums that a good title has to have a double entendre, the Dead recently released Rocking The Cradle, capturing the best moments of that run at the Sound and Light Theater at Gizah. I can’t help but enjoy the interlude with the Nubian choir and oud player Hamza El Din that goes into Fire On The Mountain, and watching a younger Jerry Garcia clad in pigtails moving with exuberance and joy, for in truth, it would be a few months before a certain Persian export would get its claws into the man.

I still can’t get past the heaviness of the whole thing.



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