ANTHEM, Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy, publishes on October 1. Each of the book’s 47 chapters begins with a song from the Sixties to set the tone, mood, and scene. Every day between now and October 1, come have a listen and read a snippet from each chapter. On October 1, these posts will be archived with a link at ANTHEM’s webpage for #teachingAnthem1969

This is Chapter 42 (day 6):

DARK STAR
Written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia
Performed by the Grateful Dead
Recorded live at Fillmore West, San Francisco, California 1969
Drummer: Mickey Hart

“My name is Molly. I’m a friend of your brother’s. Drew.”
Jo Ellen was concerned. “Is everything all right?”
“With Drew, yes. With us, no.”
Molly described their dilemma while Jo Ellen listened.
“I just happened to stop home to pick up some files,” she said. “Can you come to my office? I’m in the Castro. Do you have a pencil for the address?”
They were sitting in the waiting room when Jo Ellen returned. She ushered them into a small office, barely big enough for the five of them. Stacks of file folders lined the desk and more stacks on the floor threatened to topple over.
“I’m new here,” she said. “This is my first job out of law school. I’m not sure I can help you. We do civil rights litigation, mostly violations of the first, fourth, eight, and fourteenth amendments.”
“They’ve all been violated,” said Flo.
“Excuse me, who are you?”
“We’re the veterans. Moral support,” said Flo.
“We’re the adults,” said Eddie.
Jo Ellen raised an eyebrow and continued, speaking directly to Molly.

With apologies to Deadheads everywhere, I’ll confess that I was not a fan, and that I didn’t learn to be a fan as I wrote ANTHEM. I wanted a Grateful Dead song to reflect where we were in the story, and to honor the Dead, as they are a San Francisco band. You’ll find several San Francisco bands in this last section of the book, as we head for the end/finale.

“Dark Star” is a perfect title for a chapter where that dark star is revealed after so many hints and smaller peeks into just what Molly and Norman have been hurtling toward. Not to give it away, but to say that I did learn to appreciate the jam that is “Dark Star” and could imagine how the music could live on today as something quite special.

The version of “Dark Star” above is the jam recorded in 1969 at Fillmore West, which is where Molly and Norman may well be headed before it’s all over; keep reading. It was fun to research San Francisco bands, and Bill Graham’s Fillmore West.

It was meaningful to walk across the Berkeley campus and stand in the places where so much student activism had been born and nurtured, from the Free Speech movement in 1964 (which opens ANTHEM’s first scrapbook) to the People’s Park protest in 1969. More stills from ANTHEM scrapbooks:

I needed to know locations for various other venues in 1969. The internet and interviews can only take you so far. So I went to San Francisco for research and to get a feel for the Haight, the Berkeley campus, the San Francisco Zen Center, the Castro, city hall, the jail, pawn shops and coffee shops and more.

1969 was a pivotal time in this country, and a trippy time to be in San Francisco. I took my research and used my imagination for much in these chapters. The Grateful Dead took me there.

Chapter 42.