Great Scott: The Day the Music Died

Scott Towler has spent the last few months at the Canadian Grammar Rodeo and catching Andy Williams shows while talking to Samson in Branson, Mo. Don Mclean was never a hippie, but I was. At least I...
By    July 31, 2008

Scott Towler has spent the last few months at the Canadian Grammar Rodeo and catching Andy Williams shows while talking to Samson in Branson, Mo.

Don Mclean was never a hippie, but I was. At least I thought I was. I wore patchouli oil. I had patchwork pants and parkas. I tried to turn my hair into dreadlocks. I even partied with a friend named Ginsberg. OK, so Allen and I weren’t that close, but I was there man. I was part of the revolution. The only problem was the fact that I was born in the generation of neo-hippies, where the word ‘revolution’ was merely a song by the crappy frat-band O.A.R.

In the summer of 1995, when I was in 7th grade, I got offered tickets to see the Dead on what would be one of their last shows before Jerry died. My parents wouldn’t let me go and it’s irked me ever since. Sure, I hadn’t heard The Grateful Dead at the time, but I was familiar with the culture, and had a general sense of how it much it affected me.

Yeah, that’s me on the left.


A few years later, I attended my first Phish show and got hooked, eventually going on to see 22 of their shows, not like it matters. What does were the discoveries that occurred a little later on, when I finally plowed through my Dad’s record collection to discover the roots of the music I loved. Hendrix. Led Zepp. The Doors, The Dead, The Who. The good drugs. The now-canonized stuff that went down before the deluge, when any punk kid with garage band and a knowledge of q-base or pro-tools could put out a record.

Do you smell that? Damn, It’s Just Me.


It’s different today obviously. Every show is brought to you by Supafly Productions. And they want you to know that. It’s branded, polished, and no glass is allowed (oh, save for all the crystals and bongs and pipes). There’s been like 12 Bonnaroos now. Like, are you kidding me? I went to the first one thinking it would mean something, and even that one wasn’t good enough to merit a second trip. These festivals preach going green and saving the Earth. Then everyone leaves the campground, and there’s more trash there than the city of LA produces in a week. Seemingly no one has a job, but everyone has drugs to sell (hey, some things never change). You ask someone about peace, and they say “Sorry, all I got is papers.” The point is, it’s all fake. It’s candy land. And I finally had enough.

So I came to a realization recently, as the last traces of MDMA and psilocybin left my system: for me, it’s over. No more poser-hippie bull shit. No more five-year-old kids in Dead tee shirts, running around barefoot while mommy tokes a doob. I’m done. I just can’t look at those people anymore. And you know, for the longest time I’d been trying to figure out why. When did I shift from being a tree-hugging wanna-be to some button down version of my father?

I guess it’s just part of getting older. After a certain amount of time, we give up on the idealism of our youth. We make decisions about what we want in life, and then we go for them. isn’t about the music. The music never stopped. Even when Jerry died, the band played on. And maybe that’s just it. I’m grounded here. My life is ramblin’ on with no end in sight and I couldn’t be happier with the direction it’s going. Hippies, on the other hand, have no where else to go but on the road. They spend their entire lives searching for meaning through music because they never really knew what they wanted to begin with. And I’m not saying that I don’t want that feeling back. I do, very much so. If Phish were to come back and tour, I’d fly half way around the world to see them play again. This time though, I’d stay in a hotel, bring more than one change of clothes, and shower. Maybe.

Download: (Because even if you hate Phish, you might like these songs, the ones that Phish fanatics hate to admit are their favorites because sober people actually sometimes like them too).

MP3: Phish-“Bouncing Round the Room” (From Live Phish 19)
MP3: Phish-“Fee” (From Live Phish 19)

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