I read this article some months ago. It was probably at the beginning of June. It was a report of the so-called ‘Einstein Gala 2016′, a special event organized by The Canadian Einstein Legacy Project and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Toronto, Canada, to celebrate what they defined, ‘A unique moment in the world history.’ The unique moment was of course when Albert Einstein created his Theory of Relativity, ‘Changing the world with the power of one man’s intellect and vision.’ This actually happened in 1916.
Without adventuring myself into contents of theoretical physics, because unfortunately, despite the fact I could be, I’m really interested in science, I’ve not got any competence, what really surprised me about the event, it was the fact that one the most relevant special guest he was actually Bob Weir!
We are talking of one of the founder of the Grateful Dead, actually one of the most influential band of all the time and surely a true monument of the psychedelic rock culture of the 1960s and an icon for San Francisco’s hippy civilization and actually the so-called ‘sountrack’ of the LSD. His invitation was explained because of as dedicated musicians, Albert Einstein and Bob Weir’s passions for musical exploration fueled their extraordinary accomplishments in both art and science. Something that will probably not be agreed by everyone, but on the other hand Albert Einstein himself had always declared that for him insight did not come from logic or mathematics, but from intuition and inspiration and the same it is for many artists.
Bob Weir, sixity-eight years old now, for the occasion performed in acoustic solo (something he did very rarely across his entire carreer) playing a setlist packed with hits (‘Friend of the Devil’,’Jack Straw’…), fan favourites and also a cover of the Beatles’ ‘Dear Prudence’. Later he also performed with guitarist Dan Kanter, a musician, songwriter and producer and actually the musical director and former lead guitarist for Justin Bieber.
So, ‘Blue Mountain’ (out last 30th of September via Legacy Recordings) it is actually another surprise. Across the years, Bobby has of course never stopped in making music and touring around the US and the rest of the world, but this album it is in practice his first solo album in ten years and the first one of unreleased material from a very long time (thirty years!) and because of this reason it is a true event for the US music. Several musicians worked at the recording of the album (among them also Scott Devendorf of The National and Walter Martin of The Walkmen), that was produced by Josh Kaufman and by Bob Weir himself, who are actually also the authors of all the music, along with songwriter Josh Ritter, who gave a very relevant contribution also to write all the lyrics of the album. At the point that in some sense Josh Ritter, the ’76 songwriter and musician well known for his distinctive Americana style and narrative lyrics, he’s a sort of ghostwriter who makes order in that microcosmos that’s actually the creative mind of Bob Weir and all of his life experiences.
Mainly inspired by his time working as a ranch hand in Wyoming when he was fifteen years old, ‘Blue Mountain’ it’s something we could define as an album of ‘cowboy songs’ and in practice a deeply personal collection of music founded on what were actually the ranch stories and fireside songs of Bob’s youth, told with amazing wisdom and heart.
As consequence the contents of ‘Blue Mountain’ are very personal. The idea (born after a webcast with Josh Kaufman and The National) it was actually to rebuild this situation of when he was an adolescent. He was in Wyoming living in a bunk house of old cowpokes and ranch hands with a lot og guys grown up in a era before radio and when the evening came, they were used to tell stories and sing songs and he just became the kid with the guitar who accompained them. That’s how he learned a lot of songs, that’s how he learned a lot of stories. That’s in practice the story of this record and of how Bob Weir, in a way similar to what previously did Johnny Cash, renewed the long and infinity tradition of the Americana music.
Well. This is Bob Weir now. About the Grateful Dead (with John Mayer and other original members he was actually performing as ‘Dead & Company’) he said that the project is in mothballs right now, because the health of bassist Phil Lesh isn’t good at the moment, but he also said that they all are still ‘soldiering forth’. ‘Blue Mountain’, far to be something like a testament, showed to us his personal microcosmos, something appearently so concrete and far from the lysergic and acid trip jam of the Grateful Dead, but of course there’s a common ground and a line which holds together everything. Bob Weir knows perfectly that the Grateful Dead legacy it’s something fulfilling to him. He looks at his face at the mirror everyday, possibly trying to reconstrute everything he did along the years and despite the fact he himself has to admit he doesn’t actually know where’s going and he has no idea of what he’s looking at, he is certain he will finally figure out. I know he will, because, you know, he’s got the right intuitive talent, it’s a question of energy. So, if someone asks him about this, he smiles and simply answers, ‘Ask me when I’m dead.’ Fuck. Guess they have to wait.
You can also read this review at machchapuchchare