Jerome John Garcia was born in San Francisco, California in 1942 and later on adopted the artistic name of Jerry Garcia, starting his musical at the age of 18. In 1965 he helped to form the Grateful Dead, band that would become one of the most influential ones that ever came out of the United States.
Although they were not among the best-selling artists during their career, the band toured for decades across the United States and for many decades were among the highest-grossing American touring acts. Their live shows were always a unique experience and millions of fans would fill stadiums to see them. In the 90s, for example, they earned a total of 285 million dollars in revenue from their shows. They were the second highest-grossing tour in the world, only losing the first position to the Rolling Stones.
Garcia sadly passed away in 1995 at the age of 53 and the band came to an end. During his career, the musician talked a lot to the press about their concerts. He even revealed which was one of his favorite songs from the band, which also was one of his favorites to perform live.
The Grateful Dead song Jerry Garcia said was one of his favorites
The dead were known for being essentially a live band and they would always experiment on stage, having the liberty to extend or even change parts of their songs. So their setlist constantly changed from tour to tour. They played most part of the material they released on their 13 studio albums, but also performed some covers from other artists.
In an interview with Relix magazine in the late 80s, the guitarist and singer Jerry Garcia was asked if he was tired of playing any song from their setlists live. He pointed that there was some Bob Dylan tracks they were doing that he really could have break from. But when asked to pick one track that was one of his favorite ones to play live, he mentioned the Grateful Dead track “Estimated Prophet”, from the 1977 album “Terrapin Station”.
“You mean a song that I really am tired of? I would say it’d have to be probably―I’m starting to get tired of (some of) the Dylan tunes. But I still love ‘em. I think― ‘Minglewood Blues’ probably. We’ve done that more than is fair and right, you know? I try to get Bob to start doing more of his regular tunes from the past. And he keeps saying, ‘Well, I’ gonna rewrite the words on this or rewrite the words on that’. Or something like that but he never does.”
“Most of his tunes are at least challenging to play. (But) I love ‘Estimated Prophet.’ I think that’s a wonderful tune. He’s really a truly interesting songwriter. (Bob) Weir is, and his songs are really interesting too,” Jerry Garcia said.
The song mentioned by Garcia was written by his bandmate, the guitarist and singer Bob Weir alongside the American poet John Perry Barlow. Besides Weir and Garcia, the band also was formed on that album by: Donna Jean Godchaux, Keith Godchaux, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Phil Lesh.
The song constantly appeared on the band’s setlists since its release in 1977. It also was performed a few times in 1995, the year Garcia passed away.
The message in the song
Bob Weir, the co-writer of the song, talked in an interview with Poughkeepsie Journal back in 2003 about the song. He reflected on the meaning of the track and said what is the message behind the lyrics.
“I took up music to begin with because it does something that words by themselves can’t do It takes you to a place that words by themselves can’t take you to. That said, for most folks, it’s experiencing the moment. When they leave that moment, they just know it’s there and they know they can go back there in another concert.”
“Or maybe it will come their way in another experience. But there are some folks who aren’t prepared to leave that moment and try to take that with them. These are the folks that are walking a very, very perilous path. Because if you can’t let go of that moment. Those people are the acid burnouts who are trying to live in that moment or keep it always. They miss the appreciation, the beauty of the moment that it is fleeting.”
“And they think they can live there that’s something you can’t have, it’s elusive. If you spend your time trying to reconnect with it rather than being open to visiting it every now and again, you’re basically chasing your tail. If there is a message in “Estimated Prophet,” that’s it,” Bob Weir said.
Terrapin Station was Grateful Dead’s ninth studio album. At the time reached number 28 on the Billboard Album Chart, achieving gold status in 1987.