Deadhead Sticker On A Cadillac

I saw a lot of Deadhead stickers back in the day, but I came from a town full of deadheads.  I don’t think that I have ever seen an Eagles sticker on anything, some tee-shirts sure, but deadheads are more fanatical and they enjoyed marking their territory with stickers and symbols.  Unless you have been hiding in the sand for the last 49 years, then you have probably seen a few Grateful Dead logos featuring the infamous red and blue skull and lightning bolt, or the “Steal your Face” design that was made in 1969, as a collaborative work of Owsley Stanley and artist Bob Thomas.  The Grateful Dead used to put this sticker on their musical equipment as a way of marking it, in case they played with other groups and it was also featured on the live double album cover by the Grateful Dead, which they recorded in 1974, at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom.

The Grateful Dead are totally into skeletons, probably because they are associated with death, however most of the Dead skeletons are usually shown dancing, creating a paradox of life in death.  In 1973, the Grateful Dead released a live album called ‘Bear’s Choice’ that was produced by a man affectionately known as Bear, Augustus Owsley Stanley III.  He chose his favorite tracks and this album featured a lot of Pigpen songs. Owsley Stanley was an American audio engineer and clandestine chemist known for making the best LSD.  He was a key figure in the San Francisco Bay Area hippie movement during the 1960s and he played a pivotal role in the decade’s counterculture.  The Grateful Dead ‘Dancing Bears’ first appeared on the rear cover of this album, connected in a circle and this was also drawn by Bob Thomas.

Another lovable Grateful Dead symbol is the guitar playing and dancing turtles associated with the album Terrapin Station. The rose has always been a constant Grateful Dead symbol along with tie-dyed T-shirts.  The rose was the artistic work of Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley who also designed the Mars Hotel album, the big toothed rainbow haired kid smashing an ice cream cone into his forehead, the Foot through the Rainbow and the Skeleton and Roses album cover.

The artist Stanley “Mouse” Miller hung out with Janis Joplin, and somehow found himself in a snapshot of John and Yoko during the famous bed-in.  The late Alton Kelley collaborated with Miller and he also did iconic album covers for Steve Miller and Journey.  Both Kelley and Mouse were California transplants who met in Oakland, and they began working together producing posters for concerts that were promoted by Chet Helms at the Avalon Ballroom and events being promoted by Bill Graham at the Fillmore in the psychedelic community.

The Grateful Dead is a way of life, but Deadheads are actually very normal people, although they are usually very adamant about the way they feel about the Dead.  The Grateful Dead are well represented all over the world, so there should be nothing shocking about seeing a Grateful sticker on anything, yes even a Cadillac or possibly a vanity license plate.  Hippies are not dead, we are just old now and although I do not have any more tie-dye T-shirts, I would not have a problem wearing one.

Don Henley actually did see a Deadhead bumper sticker on a $21,000 Cadillac Seville while he was driving down the San Diego freeway and he wrote this condescending line (although songwriting is open to interpretation), because he felt that was the status symbol of the Right-wing upper-middle class and there was no reason for it to have a Grateful Dead ‘Deadhead’ sticker on it!  Music is a personal choice and you can’t make somebody like something just because you like something.  The Eagles were extremely different from the Dead, but many people like both groups as I do.  People change as they get older and of course some Baby Boomer hippies were bound to join in the mainstream establishment, but writing these lyrics just gave people another reason to despise the Grateful Dead, as if there weren’t enough reasons already.

‘The Boys of Summer’ is a song released in 1984 by Eagles vocalist and drummer Don Henley, with lyrics written by Henley and music composed by Mike Campbell, a guitarist that played with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  Campbell also played guitar on this song and he produced it.  The California coast is a great place to spend the summer, but it becomes a much quieter place as summer turns into fall and the weather gets cold.  This song is nostalgic, it is about glancing back on a past relationship and wanting your ex back, so things can go back to the way they were.  The guy gets left behind, while his ex has moved on so she could mess around with other guys, but he still has hope and he hangs onto that hope, figuring that she will return to him after the boys of summer have gone.  At one point he tells himself don’t look back, you can never look back, as those days are gone forever and he should just let ‘em go, realizing that he must let her go.  The tone of the song switches back again when he sees her with her brown skin shining in the sun, her hair slicked back wearing sunglasses and he tells himself again that his love for her will still be strong after the boys of summer have gone.

Laura M Bailey used the award winning Black and White video, so I am doing something different here.

Nobody on the road,
Nobody on the beach
I feel it in the air
The summer’s out of reach
Empty lake, empty streets
The sun goes down alone
I’m driving by your house
Don’t know you’re not home

But I can see you
Your brown skin shining in the sun
You got your hair combed back
And your sunglasses on, baby
I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone

I never will forget those nights
I wonder if it was a dream
Remember how you made me crazy
Remember how I made you scream
I don’t understand what happened to our love
But, baby, I’m gonna get you back
I’m gonna show you what I’m made of

I can see you,
Your brown skin shining in the sun
I see you walking real slow
And you’re smiling at everyone
And I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone

Out on the road today I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac
A little voice inside my head said
Don’t look back, you can never look back
I thought I knew what love was
What did I know?
Those days are gone forever
I should just let ‘em go, but

I can see you,
Your brown skin shining in the sun
You got that top pulled down,
And that radio on, baby
And I can tell you my love for you will still be strong,
After the boys of summer have gone

I can see you,
Your brown skin shining in the sun
You got that hair slicked back,
And those Wayfarers on, baby
And I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone

Written for Laura M Bailey All The Shoes I Wear Manic Mondays 3 way prompt – A picture of sunglasses showing the reflection of a beach scene, the word Departing and the Don Henley song The Boys of Summer.

10 thoughts on “Deadhead Sticker On A Cadillac

    1. Who knows, he could be, but I doubt it. I think that he is jealous as both bands are from California and he might look down on Deadheads thinking that the Eagles are better. Being a Deadhead is about belonging to something that is bigger than yourself and it is also about acceptance. Anyone will be accepted as a Deadhead, rich or poor, dirt-bag or Senator’s son.

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  1. You won’t be surprised to hear that I found this post very interesting. I too find that line rather ‘condescending’. This is patently (and thankfully) something you never grow out of – and, of course, you can’t go back if you never left in the first place.
    Clearly, here in Europe the whole Grateful Dead/deadheads phenomenon isn’t ingrained in the culture as it is in the US, so when my adhesion to it comes to light the response is usually either incomprehension (‘never heard of them’) or a presumption that being a deadhead is prima facie evidence of ingestion of massive quantities of psychedelics. My stock response to that runs along the lines of ‘this is my trip, and you’re not on it’. It’s a broad church, and a community, as you rightly say, but it’s also a deeply personal experience.
    And I still have the tie-dyes. Some of them even fit.

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    1. The Grateful Dead were certainly one of the most unusual rock groups of all time. Being born in the counter-cultural upheaval of the ’60s, the Dead became inextricably linked with Flower Power, peace and love, but they have held concerts all over the world. I have been to Europe several times and I do not remember seeing any Dead stickers, so it must be different living there.


      1. You do see them from time to time over here. The most unexpected place I spotted one, however, was on the back of a clipboard carried by a despatch rider into an office building in Tokyo where I was waiting for a business meeting. I don’t think the Dead ever got nearer to Japan than Hawaii.

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      2. You are correct as they played in Canada 27 times, United Kingdom 24, Germany 16, France 10, Netherlands 5, Denmark 4, Egypt 3 and once in Spain, Jamaica, Luxembourg and Sweden.


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