Grateful Dead’s ‘power to bridge divides’ hailed in Congress



North Carolina Congressman Wiley Nickel wants the world to remember the Grateful Dead, and folks online are taking notice.

A video of Nickel’s remarks in tribute to the iconic jam band and its spinoff Dead & Company on the House floor Monday is going viral on Twitter, generating more than 31,000 views and hundreds of likes among “Deadheads” around the world.

Standing alongside the Grateful Dead’s Steal Your Face Skull logo, the 47-year-old freshman congressman from the Old North State’s 13th congressional district reflected on the lessons learned from the eclectic group that formed amid California’s 1960s counterculture.

“I rise today to celebrate and pay tribute to the Grateful Dead,” said Nickel, who was raised in California. “Last night, the Dead & Company closed out their final act in San Francisco, and while this marks the end of an era it also gives us an opportunity to reflect on the immense impact they’ve had on generations of fans. (The late Grateful Dead leader) Jerry Garcia said it best when he said, ‘Maybe we’re just one of the last adventures in America,’ and for those of us who are fans who followed the Dead they were truly an amazing American adventure.

“For over five decades,” Nickel said, “their unique blend of rock, folk, and improvisation transcended boundaries, inspiring countless artists and enchanting millions of dedicated fans. In a world often divided, the Grateful Dead reminds us that music has the power to bridge divides and bring people together. Their music served as a beacon of hope, an escape, and a testament to the power of artistic expression. Through their music the Grateful Dead taught us the value of community, compassion, and the beauty of living in the moment.”

While many questioned Nickel’s use of taxpayer resources, the majority of folks from across the political spectrum who weighed in on Twitter seemed to appreciate the congressional tribute, with many reflecting on how the Grateful Dead touched their lives.

“They are taking a well-deserved bow in front of very appreciative fans,” one Twitter user posted. “The Dead did not just play great music, they fostered a camaraderie and friendship very few artists can come close to matching. They were and are The Grateful Dead.”

“Love this!” wrote another. “Thank you for representing NC in our love of the Dead that will live eternal.”

Monday’s remarks weren’t the first time Nickel referenced the ever-evolving band that fused elements of rock, blues, jazz, folk, country, bluegrass, gospel, and reggae music, and inspired dozens of spin-off groups. The congressman in June discussed his love of the Grateful Dead with fellow Deadhead Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell during a House Financial Services Committee hearing after Powell had been photographed at a Dead & Company concert in Virginia on June 3.

“I’ve found one universal truth, I like people who like the Grateful Dead,” Nickel told Powell.

“I’ve been a Grateful Dead fan for over 50 years,” Powell responded.

Nickel said Monday, “Their journey may have reached its final destination but their melodies resonate across time, reminding us of the enduring power of music to inspire, uplift, and to bring us together.”

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