1969 was the Lost Quintet, so-called because the five musicians–Mr. Davis, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, and Wayne Shorter–never made a studio recording. Chick joined up in September of ’68, and was dragooned into playing the electric Fender Rhodes piano against his will.
“Dragooned” implies that it’s against one’s will.
I said “fuck off.” I yelled it, as a matter of fact.
Right on both counts. How many instruments did you play?
“Ain’t never played none of ’em. It’s serious business! You wanna play, you get you a hula hoop an’ a Betsy-Wetsy doll!”
Also true. Y’know, Lee should’ve totally paid you to endorse their jeans.
“We are in no way conflicted in our opinions! In fact, I called over to their offices once t’see if we could put into place the very agreement you spoke of.”
“The ol’ Pig don’t lie! I rang ’em up, got some mucketymuck on the line, an’ I got t’ castigatin’! You’re ignorin’ the longhair market, I tells the suit. You gotta appeal to the dopers, I continue. They don’t wear nothin’ but jeans! It’s what y’call a captive market, Captain Capitalist! That’s what I said to the man.”
How’d he respond?
He hung up on you?
“After some rather imaginative oaths!”
Win some, lose some.
“An’ I didn’t let the interaction sour me on the pants! They’re made of sturdy stuff, plus they make the ol’ Pig’s ass look 30% more grabbable than it naturally is.”
You had it going on, man. Lemme ask you something.
Do I have a civic duty to watch the debate tonight?
“Hell, no. Get your load on an’ watch some Bugs Bunny. Payin’ attention t’ politicians only encourages ’em.”
This was 1969. When next Elvis returned to Vegas, he would have a fancier set and snazzier outfits for his band. Also, Ronnie Tutt had more drums. Like, a lot more drums.
See? More drums.
(Ronnie Tutt needed every single one of those tom-toms, though, because Ronnie Tutt’s job wasn’t playing drums; Ronnie Tutt’s job was helping Elvis be awesome, and so when the King demonstrated karate, Ronnie Tutt made it sound like Thor was taking a shit. Rock Nerds will note that “accenting the singer’s dance moves” was also a requisite for James Brown’s drummers, but they should further note that James Brown had, like, four drummers onstage at a time. Ronnie Tutt had to play Hound Dog way too fast AND underscore Elvis’ spin-kicks.)
(At no point did Elvis consider a multiple-drummer set-up.
“THASS SOME COMMIE BULLSHIT, MAN. GOOD LORD WANTED US T’ HAVE TWO DRUMMERS, HE WOULD’A MADE THE STAGE WIDER.”
How did you get inside a parenthetical?
“GOD MADE ADAM AN’ EVE, NOT TWO DRUMMERS AT ONCE.”
We get it.
“AH DIDN’ EVEN HAVE ONE DRUMMER WHEN AH STARTED OUT, AN’ AH DID JUS’ FINE!”
Sure, but that was a different type of music, King.
“AN’ AH HAD NOT YET MASTERED KARATE!”
“LISSEN, BOY. ONLY TWO REASONS YOU GOT MORE’N ONE DRUMMER IN YER BAND. EITHER YER A COMMUNIST, AN’ Y’THINK EVERYONE WHO WANTS A JOB IN TH’ BAND SHOULD GET ONE, OR YER ONE O’ THEM IN’ELLECTUAL TYPES THAT THINKS MUSIC SHOULDN’T SOUND GOOD.”
I agree with the second part, but don’t really understand the first one.
Okay, okay. How many backup singers?
“SHITLOAD, MAN. THINK OF A BIG NUMBER, THEN DOUBLE THAT SUMBITCH.”
Ignore the false start–Elvis would pull that shit on the band at most shows during his Vegas years–and the post-song plea for wawa. Listen to these motherfuckers. And on Rubberneckin’! The performance is far more than the song deserves! Suspicious Minds has a killer riff and memorable chorus; Hound Dog and Heartbreak Hotel are stone-cold classics; In The Ghetto has that part where it gets real loud. Rubberneckin’ is just shit.
But the TCB Band rips it several new assholes.
When men* have common purpose, mountains tremble.
* And the Sweet Inspirations and Kathy Westmoreland, the li’l lady who sings all them high notes.
“EV’RYBODY LOOK AT KATHY. SHE GONNA DO A TWIRL.
“SHOW ‘EM THEM SLACKS, KATHY WESTMORELAND!”
How the hell did you get into a footnote?
“AH AM TH’ KING.”
“SHE SINGS UP REAL HAH, MAN. DOGS GIT SQUIRRELY ‘ROUND HER.”
I can’t spend all night talking to you.
“YES, YEW CAN. YEW GOT NOTHIN’ BETTER T’ DO, AN’ AH NEED ME A NEW CHARLIE HODGE.”
What happened to the real one?
“TURNS OUT HE CANNOT FETCH A LAHZ’NGE. BOY AIN’T GOOD WITH NEW INF’RMATION. HE POPPED A VALVE OR SOMETHIN’, MAN. HIS EYEBALLS AIN’T FACING TH’ SAME WAY NO MORE.”
Terrible to hear.
“YEW GOT NO IDEA, MAN. AH TRIED PUTTIN’ RED WEST ON SCARVES AN’ WATER DUTY, BUT THAT LIPFLAPPIN’ GOPHER WANNA CHEW UP MY EAR. AH JUS’ WANT MAH SCARF! DON’ BE PUTTIN’ Y’R TWO CENTS IN, AND AH AIN’ PAYIN’ NO PENNY F’R NO THOUGHTS!”
Tough to find good help.
“SONNY COULDN’ DO IT, NEITHER! KEPT THINKIN’ AH WANTED T’ RASSLE! AH ASKED F’R A SCARF, AN’ TH’ SUMBITCH TACKLED ME DOWN TH’ DANG STEPS! AN’ USUALLY, AH LOVE RASSLIN’ WITH SONNY, BUT NOT WHEN AH WUZ IN SUCH DIRE NEED OF A SCARF. JOE ESPOSITO WUZ TH’ WORST, THOUGH.”
“BOY DON’ KNOW WHAT A SCARF IS. KEPT BRINGIN’ ME BEACH TOWELS AND BATHROOM TISSUE. ONE TIME, HE BROUGHT ME AN OVEN MITT. AH WUZ FORCED TO FIRE MAH PISTOL AT HIM TWO OR THREE TIMES.”
That was the hardest > I’ve ever encountered in the wild.
The setlist makes no sense.
Woodstock was a TC show, and that is a rare show, indeed.
They do not 100% know Mama Tried yet.
The Dead took–at minimum–18 months to learn a song, and Mama Tried wasn’t there yet.
And now there’s what is generally referred to in the parlance as “banter,” and it’s…oh, holy shit ten fucking minutes?
Ten minutes in between songs?
I cannot sanction this buffoonery.
Is that Ken fucking Babbs?
THAT FUCKER NEARLY RUINED VENETA.
I’m skipping ahead to Dark Star.
Fuck this noise; I am in the last half of my life, and I will not give it to Ken Babbs’ drug-drenched nonsense.
My God, the bush league of it all.
John Fogerty is right to be mad at you, Grateful Dead.
He laid out his expectations, that you kept on choogling.
He did not ask that you choogled poorly for a bit, then took a ten-minute smoke break, and then choogled a little bit more.
I have not ever to my knowledge listened to the Woodstock set before.
Although I would have sworn that The Band did not play that weekend, so my memory is suspect.
But I bring to the show all the baggage of the expectation, so perhaps I’m picking apart the music with a butcher’s ear.
This is, we are told, the worst show the Grateful Dead ever played.
But they’re just playing Dark Star.
TC’s leading the way.
Heavy TC presence on this Upstate evening.
Is Garcia even on stage?
Where’s the Big Guy?
“Don’t call me that.”
Oh, there he is.
Who’s afraid of the Woodstock set?
It’s Dark Star!
Everybody loves a Dark Star, even the crappy ones.
And this is not crappy.
To us, Enthusiast.
Because we, you and I, love a spacey, shakey, sketchy Dark Star that falls apart once or twice.
But they’re literally playing Jazz Odyssey for a festival crowd.
Aw, they’re being all quiet and thoughtful.
The Dead simply could not have been more ill-prepared.
Think of how rarely they played outside the hippie circuit before 1969.
This is delightful music for a theater full of tripping kids.
But there’s 500,00 people there.
Not all of whom were Deadheads.
Lots of people hate this kind of bullshit.
But we are a minority.
Most people wanna hear songs.
And sing along with choruses.
If you can write a chorus that folks wanna sing along to, you will make great deals of money in the music industry.
Dark Star does not have a chorus.
And has now petered out into High Time, and there is all sorts of commotion from the crowd.
Settle down, teens!
Calm your tits.
Here is music to soothe yourselves to: High Time, which I think I hate.
Obviously, I’ve tried to like the song, but it’s a dirge with an awkward melody and clunky lyrics.
Billy’s going for it, though.
“Billy, it’s a ballad song.”
Why High Time?
This was not the time for High Time.
Casey Jones might have filled the spot in a more crowd-rousing fashion.
Dead was kicking the shit out of Cosmic Charlie in the Summer of ’69.
No, no: High Time.
The slow one that nobody knows.
Sweet monkey Jesus, who is that?
Why has a rando been given a mic?
WHERE IS PARISH?
WHY HAS THIS MAN NOT BEEN ASSAULTED?
Okay, it was pretty cool in the end, but the general principle remains: randos do not get microphones.
The guy’s wrong, anyway: there are not three coasts.
There are infinite coasts.
It’s the ol’ Pig, everybody!
Love me a good Lovelight.
Oo-ee, when the Lovelight is right, and she starts up to pumping on your johnson: that’s when you knew the nitties are properly box-backed.
Sometimes we get nitties that are carton-backed.
Can’t use those.
Not funky enough.
Oh, no, he’s back.
SOMEONE BEAT THIS RANDO TO DEATH.
There are rules!
Where was the Road Crew?
This is 1/3rd of their job.
They unload the shit.
They protect the shit.
They load the shit back up.
This falls under the umbrella of “protecting the shit.”
Okay, he’s gone.
Gonna settle me into a nice, tight Lovelight.
Gonna eeeeease on in here.
For fuck’s sake, Grateful Dead.
I have told you this before: Lovelight only contains 12 or 15 minutes worth of music.
Dark Star contains multitudes, and may last for hours; it is a magickal invocation, and therefore subject to its own whims and becomes irritated at attempts of steering.
Dark Star c’est le roi.
Lovelight is a Bobby “Blue” Bland number.
Tom Jones did it in his Vegas act.
Pause the Dead and listen to this:
Tom Jones literally has Big Dick Energy.
(Those Vegas bands could swing, man, and they were enormous. Elvis’ assemblage was no anomaly. Full rock band + full orchestra + backup singers. That was for every singer in every showroom. And a smaller combo in the lounge. A good drummer who showed up on time and sober could make himself a lot of money in Las Vegas back then.)
Anyway, notice the time stamp?
Two minutes and twelve seconds.
And twenty seconds of that is Tom getting introduced.
Then the part that goes BAH-BAH-BAH and the chords go down.
And you yell LET IT SHINE for a little bit.
Then the song is over.
That’s all there is to Lovelight.
You can’t build castles out of taffy, brother.
No one can see any of this, of course.
There were no video screens.
(Would someone PLEASE do some research about the introduction of video screens to rock shows? I’m fascinated, but don’t wanna do the homework.)
How close do you have to be to the stage to see what’s happening on it?
Because most of Woodstock was farther away than that.
The lack of facilities cannot be overstated, but I suppose the promoters cannot be blamed for the lack of a Jumbotron.
I don’t even know if a Jumbotron was possible in 1969.
Obviously, it would have been impossible for Michael Lang and the other two rich kids who lured all those innocent youths into that barren, foodless field in Bethel.
Hey, guys, are the roads gonna be able to handle the volume?
“HERPY DERP! PEACE AND LOVE!”
Fellows, have you hired a medical staff?
“WHOOPITY-SCOOP! NO RAIN NO RAIN!”
A lot of the other festivals ended in violence, not just Altamont.
The crowd at the Miami Pop Festival tore down the bleachers and stage, burned them in a pyre, sacrificed the soft-tittied boys.
Jesus, are they still playing Lovelight?
It’s a lot of repetition.
Gotta be honest with you, Enthusiasts.
I get it.
And Pig demands to be my rider.
You can be my rider.
Just play something else.
Lovelight is not a portal to sonic wavelengths beyond both our beck and ken; it is a soul single from 1961.
It should not be forty minutes long.
Meals aren’t forty minutes long.
12 to 15 minutes is the perfect length for a Lovelight.
30 to 50 is the perfect number of feral hogs, and 12 to 15 minutes etc.