115+ Best Jerry Garcia Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Jerome John “Jerry” Garcia was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist, best known for his work as the lead guitarist and as a vocalist with the band the Grateful Dead, which came to prominence during the counterculture era in the 1960s. Wise Jerry Garcia quotes will challenge the way you think, change the way you live and transform your whole life.

If you’re searching for the most inspiring quotes from musicians that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of powerful Jimi Hendrix quotes, famous Willie Nelson quotes, and Jim Morrison quotes.

Most Famous Jerry Garcia Quotes

I’m shopping around for something to do that no one will like. – Jerry Garcia

Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. – Jerry Garcia

You need music, I don’t know why. It’s probably one of those Joe Campbell questions, why we need ritual. We need magic, and bliss, and power, myth, and celebration and religion in our lives, and music is a good way to encapsulate a lot of it. – Jerry Garcia

What we’re thinking about is a peaceful planet. We’re not thinking about anything else. We’re not thinking about any kind of power. We’re not thinking about any kind of struggles. We’re not thinking about revolution or war or any of that. That’s not what we want. Nobody wants to get hurt. Nobody wants to hurt anybody. We would all like to be able to live an uncluttered life. A simple life, a good life. And think about moving the whole human race ahead a step, or a few steps. – Jerry Garcia

What is life but being conscious? And good and evil are manifestations of consciousness. If you reject one, you’re not getting the whole thing that’s there to be had. – Jerry Garcia

What we need is something, a definition of a human, starting from the ground up, so that the suitable moral structure that goes around it makes sense. The context has to come from the human first, rather than bits and pieces of fragments of old religion and all of the old moral superstructure, whatever it used to be. – Jerry Garcia

We are experiencing a real confusion here in the United States, you know. Why is it OK to drink, but it’s not OK to take drugs? Blah, blah, blah. What’s a crime? What’s criminality? What can you do, what can’t you do, and so forth. All these things are really confusing. A lot of it is really contradictory; it doesn’t really make sense. – Jerry Garcia

If you think of music as a universal language, it still has some very powerful dialects. – Jerry Garcia

Every silver lining has a touch of grey. – Jerry Garcia

If you assume you haven’t learned anything yet, there’s no reason your playing can’t stay dynamic all your life. – Jerry Garcia

I mean, whatever kills you kills you, and your death is authentic no matter how you die. – Jerry Garcia

American society has gone completely into denial. – Jerry Garcia

We were very fortunate to have a a little time in history when LSD was still legal and were able to experiment with drugs just like we were doing with music. – Jerry Garcia

There’s a lot there to enlarge you. That’s part of the value of being in an extended family is that it enlarges you. It makes you bigger. It makes you more. – Jerry Garcia

See, there’s only two theaters, man that are set up pretty groovy all around for music and for smooth stage changes, good lighting and all that – the Fillmore and The Capitol Theatre. And those are the only two in the whole country. – Jerry Garcia

Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul. – Jerry Garcia

I think that America is in danger of losing its adventurous spirit in the cause of some kind of illusion of safety, or substitute of law and order there. – Jerry Garcia

You listen to a politician making a speech, and it is like hearing nothing. Whereas, music is unmistakably music. The thing about music is that nobody listens to it unless it’s real. I don’t think that you can fool anybody for too long in music. And you certainly can’t fool everybody. – Jerry Garcia

I have always had this basic biological question in terms of evolution, if the drive to evolution is to like survive. An organism that survives well, there is really no need for consciousness in there. – Jerry Garcia

The thing of being able to share somebody’s reality, which has so far been a matter of what communication is about, you know. Now it has gotten a whole new leg. It has gotten a thing of being able to actually step in somebody’s reality and walk through it like they do, experience it the way they do, specifically. The implications, to me, are immense. I mean, how far can it go? If you go into a complete, like a cyberspace model of some type, in which… you know the discussion about the mind and the interaction between the mind and the universe as a holographic phenomenon. – Jerry Garcia

In this universe the top end is light, and the bottom end is real hard stuff. – Jerry Garcia

I don’t know why, it’s the same reason why you like some music and you don’t like others. There’s something about it that you like. Ultimately, I don’t find it’s in my best interests to try and analyze it, since it’s fundamentally emotional. – Jerry Garcia

If you can create a reality that is entirely fictitious, it doesn’t owe anything to this stuff out here, but you interact with it on your own terms. I mean, if you took it to the point where finally you get, say, tactile feedback, so you were wired in in terms of the whole nervous system. The sensorium. You would have the ultimate art form. I mean, any painter would want it, any filmmaker would want access to it you know, any musician would want access to it. It would eliminate the need for the divisions between what we describe as the arts, converting the whole thing to experience. – Jerry Garcia

I think the Muslim religious is a little too tight. It doesn’t fit humans. Humans can’t possibly fit into it, so there are a lot of really unhappy people, terribly repressed. It is a religion that works against you because the template doesn’t fit. It’s not human, you know. – Jerry Garcia

I’m goin’ where the wind doesn’t blow so strange, maybe off on some high cold mountain chain. – Jerry Garcia

And as far as I’m concerned, it’s like I say, drugs are not the problem. Other stuff is the problem. – Jerry Garcia

And there’s a lot of that stuff with people bringing their kids, kids bringing their parents, people bringing their grandparents – I mean, it’s gotten to be really stretched out now. It was never my intention to say, this is the demographics of our audience. – Jerry Garcia

If you are picking the lesser of two evils, you are still picking Evil. – Jerry Garcia

Run faster, jump higher, reach farther, and you’ll always win! live life expecting the worst, hoping for the best, and living for the future! Somebody has to do something, and it’s just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. – Jerry Garcia

Whistle through your teeth and spit cuz, it’s Alright – Jerry Garcia

The great thing is the thing of being able to see things through many points of view. That’s enlarging. I mean, it saves you from ultimately from the boredom of having one point of view, like being locked in a room with nothing but your own point of view, your own references. – Jerry Garcia

Everybody needs adventure, and everybody needs something to enlarge his or her lives. – Jerry Garcia

We would all like to be able to live an uncluttered life, a simple life, a good life. – Jerry Garcia

We didn’t invent the Grateful Dead, the crowd invented the Grateful Dead. We were just in line to see what was going to happen. – Jerry Garcia

Music goes way back before language does. And music is like the key to a whole spiritual existence which this society doesn’t even talk about. We know it’s there. The Grateful Dead plays at religious services essentially. We play at the religious services of the new age. Everybody gets high, and that’s what it’s all about really. Getting high is a lot more real than listening to a politician. You can think that getting high actually did happen – that you danced, and got sweaty, and carried on. It really did happen. I know when it happens. I know it when it happens every time. – Jerry Garcia

Done time in the lock-up, done time on the streets. Done time on the upswing, and time in defeat. I know what I’m askin’. I know it’s a lot. Just to say that I love you. Believe it or not. – Jerry Garcia

The nature of what we’re doing is something, which is by its very nature, is non-formulaic. There’s no way that you can make it happen by intention alone. It’s something that you have to sort of allow it to happen, and you have to allow for it to happen. – Jerry Garcia

Each person makes their own decision about what it is that is happening, whether they like it or don’t like it, whether they want to lend their energy to it or not or what, you know. – Jerry Garcia

America is still mostly xenophobic and racist. That’s the nature of America, I think. – Jerry Garcia

In folk music, I’ve always been fond of the fragment. The song that has one verse. And you don’t know anything about the characters, you don’t know what they’re doing, but they’re doing something important. I love that. I’m really a sucker for that kind of song. – Jerry Garcia

Right now, America is under the gun. It’s being tested and is being co-opted in a big way. – Jerry Garcia

I think The Grateful Dead kind of represents the spirit of being able to go out and have an adventure in America at large. – Jerry Garcia

And when you don’t have to talk to the person next to you, that’s real clean. Takes a certain thing not to try to keep anything up, not to have to entertain one another. – Jerry Garcia

You can’t repeat things because each time is different. The universe has changed. Everything has changed. – Jerry Garcia

… Grateful Dead – that’s it!! … nobody in the band liked it, (the name) I didn’t like it, either, but it got around that that was one of the candidates for our new name, and everyone else said, ‘Yeah, that’s great.’ It turned out to be tremendously lucky. It’s just repellent enough to filter curious onlookers and just quirky enough that parents don’t like it. – Jerry Garcia

What a long strange trip it’s been. – Jerry Garcia

It’s not enough to be the best at what you do. You must be perceived as the only one who does what you do. – Jerry Garcia

It’s a joke. Greed and the desire to take drugs are two separate things. If you want to separate the two, the thing you do is make drugs legal. Accept the reality that people do want to change their consciousness, and make an effort to make safer, healthier drugs. – Jerry Garcia

You have to be ready, and also you have to discard notions that are fondly held by a lot of musicians, about sequences and notes and about scales and musical systems as a whole. If you think of music as a language, the space part is where you throw out all the syntax. – Jerry Garcia

For me, the lame part of the Sixties was the political part, the social part. The real part was the spiritual part. – Jerry Garcia

There’s a need for a ritual and for real joy and real bliss. Real fun. – Jerry Garcia

To get really high is to forget yourself. And to forget yourself is to see everything else. And to see everything else is to become an understanding molecule in evolution, a conscious tool of the universe. – Jerry Garcia

We’re like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice. – Jerry Garcia

You ain’t gonna learn what you don’t wanna know. – Jerry Garcia

Magic is what we do, music is how we do it. – Jerry Garcia

Too much of a good thing is just about right – Jerry Garcia

Somebody has to do something, and it’s just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. – Jerry Garcia

If we had any nerve at all, if we had any real balls as a society, or whatever you need, whatever quality you need, real character, we would make an effort to really address the wrongs in this society, righteously. – Jerry Garcia

Truth is something you stumble into when you think you’re going someplace else. – Jerry Garcia

Nothing left to do but smile. – Jerry Garcia

You don’t want to be the best at what you do, you want to be the only one. – Jerry Garcia

To me, that’s the key thing, the pursuit of happiness. That’s the basic, ultimate freedom. – Jerry Garcia

Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see. Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it’s been. – Jerry Garcia

All I know is, if you listen to society, you’ll never get anywhere! – Jerry Garcia

If you’re able to enjoy something, to devote your life to it or a reasonable amount of time and energy, it will work out for you. – Jerry Garcia

It’s pretty clear now that what looked like it might have been some kind of counterculture is, in reality, just the plain old chaos of undifferentiated weirdness. – Jerry Garcia

Live life expecting the worst, hoping for the best, and living for the future! – Jerry Garcia

If the thunder don’t get ya then the lightning will. – Jerry Garcia

We’re involved in a society which is undergoing some really weird changes now. – Jerry Garcia

You have to get past the idea that music has to be one thing. To be alive in America is to hear all kinds of music constantly: radio, records, churches, cats on the street, everywhere music. And with records, the whole history of music is open to everyone who wants to hear it. – Jerry Garcia

I equate Deadheads to people that like black licorice. There aren’t many people that like black licorice, but the ones that do, REALLY REALLY like it! Or buttermilk, or whatever. – Jerry Garcia

Death comes at you no matter what you do in this life, and to equate drugs with death is a facile comparison. – Jerry Garcia

But audio is a component of video, so there’s always been that anyway, and although we’ve never expressed a visual side apart from the Grateful Dead movie, I don’t find it that remote, you know what I mean? It’s a departure of sorts, but it’s like a first cousin. – Jerry Garcia

I mean, just because you’re a musician doesn’t mean all your ideas are about music. So every once in a while, I get an idea about plumbing, I get an idea about city government, and they come the way they come. – Jerry Garcia

Stuff that’s hidden and murky and ambiguous is scary because you don’t know what it does. – Jerry Garcia

The alternate media are becoming important and viable alternatives to playing live. Records, videos, that kind of thing. They’re going to start to count for something. Because there’s only a limited amount of us-time available to us. – Jerry Garcia

And for me there’s still more material than 20 lifetimes that I can use up. – Jerry Garcia

I think it’s too bad that everybody’s decided to turn on drugs, I don’t think drugs are the problem. Crime is the problem. Cops are the problem. Money’s the problem. But drugs are just drugs. – Jerry Garcia

But hey, when you live in Watts, you need a little smack to get by, you know what I mean? You need something soft and comfortable in your life, ’cause you’re not going to get it from what’s around you. And society isn’t going to give it to you. – Jerry Garcia

So we are pretty convinced we don’t want to play huge stadiums unless we can play them well. – Jerry Garcia

We’re not uncomfortable with it, and we’ve already been through enough of the music business where I’m not really worried that commercial success is going to in some way – we’re already past saving, you know what I mean? It’s too late for us. – Jerry Garcia

I don’t think that Slaughterhouse-Five was successful movie material. In fact, Vonnegut’s books mostly I don’t feel are movie material. – Jerry Garcia

I’m not trying to clock scores in this lifetime, it’s just that things are better now than they were like five, ten years ago. Music has gotten a lot better. There’s a lot of people who are committed to – soulfully. – Jerry Garcia

Our strong suit is what we do, and our audience. – Jerry Garcia

Hunter can write a melody and stuff like that, but his forte is lyrics. He can write a serviceable melody to hang his lyrics on, and sometimes he comes up with something really nice. – Jerry Garcia

Yeah, I think we have to. If we want our shows to be – if we want the quality of the shows to be good, and we want the energy to be high, and if we want to be in good enough physical shape to do them, and not exhaust ourselves on the road, and not get stale, we have to pace. – Jerry Garcia

And the live show is still our main thing. – Jerry Garcia

What we do is as American as lynch mobs. America has always been a complex place. – Jerry Garcia

I have all the patience in the world about Sirens. For me it’s not a Grateful Dead project, it’s a Me project. – Jerry Garcia

So it’s one of those things where we have to – our problem is pacing ourselves and still reaching a large enough number of our audience. Because we don’t want to burn the audience. And we don’t want to be excluding anybody. – Jerry Garcia

And Warner Bros. seems to be pretty much into re-releasing all of their catalog. So there’s the Warner Bros. stuff and the stuff that we have control over, we’re gradually re-releasing it. Some stuff we don’t have control over. – Jerry Garcia

Well, you know Tom, I’m no health nut – Jerry Garcia

You do not merely want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do. – Jerry Garcia

says Garcia, widow of Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, ”was the whole takeover of the food industry by big corporations. – Jerry Garcia

The bigger issue, … was the whole takeover of the food industry by big corporations. – Jerry Garcia

Talk about your plenty, talk about your ills, one man gathers what another man spills – Jerry Garcia

Oh well a touch of gray kind of suits you anyway. – Jerry Garcia

the largest biological experiment man has ever entered into. – Jerry Garcia

I just tried to learn his moves. And after I did that, I just took it from there. I figured I was getting him with (the left) so I was just sticking with that. – Jerry Garcia

I read somewhere that 77 per cent of all the mentally ill live in poverty. Actually, I’m more intrigued by the 23 per cent who are apparently doing quite well for themselves. – Jerry Garcia

The real problems are cultural. The problems of the people who take drugs as a cultural trap – I think there’s a real problem there, the crack stuff, the hopelessness of the junkie. The urban angst. – Jerry Garcia

every mind is at least as heavy as mine. – Jerry Garcia

I sat down to my supper, twas a bottle of red whiskey. – Jerry Garcia

We’ve been trying to sell out for years, nobody’s buying! – Jerry Garcia

It’s much too late to do anything about rock & roll now … – Jerry Garcia

Either you were a hoodlum, or you were a puddle on the sidewalk. – Jerry Garcia

Don’t tell me this town ‘aint got no heart – Jerry Garcia

We have quite a large area, and that makes it more fun for us – certainly more satisfying, because it doesn’t restrict us to one particular idea or one particular style. The result, I think, is pretty interesting … we don’t expect to make a fortune at it or ever be popular or famous or worshipped or hit The Ed Sullivan Show or the circuses or the big top. As long as we can play, we’ll play, regardless of what it’s for, who it’s for or anything. It’s fun for us – that’s the important thing. – Jerry Garcia

The sun will shine in my back door one day. – Jerry Garcia

For me, I think the only danger is being too much in love with guitar playing. The MUSIC is the most important thing, and the guitar is only the instrument. – Jerry Garcia

Cats on the bandstand, give them each a big hand, anyone who sweats like that must be all right. – Jerry Garcia

What’s been great about the human race gives you a sense of how great you might get, how far you can reach. – Jerry Garcia

Nobody stopped thinking about those psychedelic experiences. Once you’ve been to some of those places, you think, ‘How can I get back there again but make it a little easier on myself?’ – Jerry Garcia

I don’t think there’s a good excuse for being unhappy. I’m not particularly unhappy, but i know what pain is. I think that life is characterized by pain, partly. Part of the way you can tell you’re alive is by how much pain you’re experiencing, or how little… – Jerry Garcia

I could have made the film a lot more disturbing than it is, … But my whole point was to inspire people to take action. – Jerry Garcia

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