From the Comment Section, Tor Haxson pitches in with some highly useful videos from the In Concert With AIDS show. Above is Garcia and Bobby trying, in their way, to cut a donation spot. The efforts are typically bush league, with Garcia winning the “Quotables” competition with “Send money, and anything else you got.”
Then, Bobby and his chest thatch get interviewed. It goes poorly, as Bobby cannot seem to find a happy medium between single-word answers and logorrhea.
It was an AIDS benefit.
You remember AIDS.
This was 1989, and Freddie Mercury was still alive but Jobriath and Sylvester weren’t. You could still appear on MTV wearing a tee-shirt reading (in parody of the old Raid bug spray ad) AIDS Kills Fags Dead* and it wouldn’t hurt your record sales too much. Elton John gave a shit, but he had skin in the game. Starving Africans got benefit concerts, and so did the farmers, but there was no AIDS Aid.
Until 5/27/89. The Dead headlined–their usual two sets–even though they had played two shows at Frost the previous month and were scheduled for three at Shoreline the next month. (This may have cut into attendance, although the less-than-sold out crowd was blamed by promoter Bill Graham on “the continuing stigma attached to AIDS, and because of lingering fears that the fatal disease can be contracted through casual contact,” which you will recognize as utter horseshit. No one in 1989 thought they could get AIDS from a concert. We all thought we could get it from a toilet seat, but not from a concert.) To bolster our storied adventurers, Graham also put Tower of Power, Tracy Chapman, Los Lobos, and John Fogerty on the bill, and–as it became evident that ticket sales were slow–advertised the fact that Garcia and Bobby would be filling in as Fogerty’s band.*
Bill Graham called the show In Concert Against AIDS. Soon would come benefits of all sizes, and red ribbons would turn awards ceremonies into Flanders Fields, but this show in 1989 was the first big one and the Grateful Dead headlined. You will hopefully recall this fact the next time some chucklehead starts with that “The Grateful Dead weren’t political, maaaaaaaaaan” bullshit.**
Two things about Fogerty:
He hadn’t played the old Creedence tunes–except for special events–onstage for years. Simple songs, but they had complicated emotions attached to them.
The contracts CCR and Fogerty had with Fantasy, the label that released all their classics with all their immense hits, were hilariously onerous. Black acts and boy bands didn’t get fucked this bad. Fantasy was owned by a Show Biz sharpie named Saul Zaentz, who used all of the royalties Fogerty’s songs produced to fund his Hollywood aspirations. They loved him in Los Angeles; gave him the Thalberg award. That’s the kind of town Los Angeles is.
Which means every time Fogerty lurches into Proud Mary for a paying crowd, Zaentz gets a piece, and though I claim no special knowledge of the inside of John Fogerty’s mind, I can tell you this: that fucker takes shit personally. Go watch five minutes of an interview. Any one, it doesn’t matter. This (understandable) bellicosity from Fogerty led to what may have been the most surreal court case of the Rock Star era. Or ever.
SO…in 1984, after a good decade away from the charts, Fogerty released an album called Centerfield. Huge record. Three top-ten hits, all of which are still being played on classic rock stations to this day, and one of which will be played at baseball stadiums until the end of time. The last track on the album, though, is called Zantz Can’t Dance. The lyrics concern a fellow, Zantz, who is a pig and a thief and all sorts of nasty, low-down things. Saul Zaentz, it turns out, also took things personally. He set about concocting the perfectly stupid lawsuit, and achieved his goal: he would sue Fogerty for plagiarizing…
Wait for it.
…himself. One of Centerfield‘s hits was a swampy number called The Old Man Down The Road. It went like this:
This is Run Through The Jungle, from 1970’s Cosmo’s Factory (which also had three top-ten hits on it):
Now, they’re the same damn song, but if writing the same damn song twice (or three or four) times is a crime, then AC/DC would have been executed long ago. The Ramones wrote the same damn song dozens of times. Hell, one of rockyrolls’ towering classics is literally called It’s The Same Old Song because it’s a direct rip-off of I Can’t Help Myself.
BUT…the Young brothers owned the rights to all their material, and so did Motown, thus freeing them up–legally speaking, at the least–to copy themselves as much as they wanted. Here, Saul Zaentz owned the earlier variation on the choogly theme and had the right–legally speaking, at the least–to sic his lawyers on John Fogerty.
Fantasy v. Fogerty. The poor bastard had to defend himself against accusations of plagiarizing himself. Which is either Kafkaesque or Helleresque, depending on your literary tastes. And he won, too. Brought his Les Paul onto the stand with battery-powered Pignose amp, cranked out some boogie for the jury, turned on that Rock Star charm. Sweet victory. Only cost him a million dollars in legal fees.
Understandably, the man had a complicated relationship with his old material. He opened the songbook only for important events. Military stuff, mostly. Fogerty’s always loved the troops. And this show, In Concert Against AIDS, at the Oakland Coliseum in 1989. The only other member of Creedence you can name is Tom Fogerty. He was John’s older brother until 1988, when he died of AIDS, and then John didn’t have an older brother anymore. Tainted transfusion during back surgery.
And so John Fogerty dusted off the old old routines, ran through the changes in the dressing room with the pick-up band, and gave the crowd what they wanted.
The most dangerous place in the world is between John Fogerty and a chance to talk shit about the Dead.
*Sebastian Bach, ladies and gentlemen:
You thought I was making that up, didn’t you? Always remember: the past was terrible, even the recent past.
***The subtext to this statement is–almost invariably–“The Dead weren’t political in the way I wanted them to be.”
It was nice of John Fogerty to let Bobby and Garcia hang out onstage while he played the old hits. Our heroes added little to the proceedings other than backing vocals, but even the awesome power of two fully bush league chooglers can’t quite trainwreck the afternoon when the rhythm section was Steve Jordan and Randy Jackson.
What a fetching kerchief, Mr. Forgerty.
“Go fuck yourself.”
Hampton gets all the attention, but the true connoisseur* knows that the Shoreline shows are just as good, if not better, or maybe worse. Depends on your opinion, I suppose.
BUT there’s a killer Death Don’t Have No Mercy, a rare standalone Franklin’s, and a lovely Bird Song. We Can Run is also performed.
PLUS a Mighty Quinn encore. Quinn, braj. Love the Quinn. Everybody’s gonna wanna dose, braj.
9/29/89 from Shoreline. Listen to it.
*Spelled it right the first time. I know there’s no way to prove that to you, but I swear it happened.
Calendrome – noun: A date that reads the same backwards as it does forward.
“It’s just not fair, Bob.”
“Josh, everybody doesn’t get to be in every storyline. When Garcia started a solo band, I wasn’t in it. Didn’t hurt my feelings.”
“It hurt a little.”
“Okay, so you see where I’m coming from.”
“I mean: you understand my position.”
“Can’t you talk to Elvis? I wanna fight Communism, or time travel, or drunken Phil from 30 years ago. Whichever.”
“Yeah, this storyline has a whole lotta ‘whichever’ in it.”
“Well, just put in a word with him. Where is Elvis?”
“I saw him at the bar.”
“Is he drinking? He shouldn’t be mixing whatever he’s on with alcohol.”
“DON’T NOBODY TELL A SOUTHERN MAN WHAT T’ DO ‘LESS THEY BRING TH’ NATIONAL GUARD”
“Calm down, Elvis.”
“TELL YER SON HE’S ABOUT T’ GET A TON O’ KARATE SHOVED UP HIS ASS, HAIRY GARCIA.”
“Please don’t unleash your karate on Josh, King.”
“AH HAVE MADE MAH FEELIN’S ‘BOUT THAT BOY CRYSTAL CLEAR.”
“I know, yeah, sure. But, uh, lemme tell you: everybody feels that way at first. He grows on you.”
“SO DO CARBUNCLES!”
“Okay, don’t call me a carbuncle, man.”
“YOU WILL ADDRESS TH’ KING WHEN ADDRESSED BY TH’ KING, AN’ TH’ KING AIN’T NEVER GOIN’ T’ ADDRESS YOU, CARBUNCLE!”
“Goddammit, Bob. I have, like, five Grammys.”
“Nobody cares about the Grammys, Josh.”
“LISTEN T’ YER ELDERS, CARBUNCLE!”
“Is that nickname gonna stick?”
“The answer to that will be revealed in the fullness of time, I suppose.”
“WHICH ONE YOU LITTLE LADIES WANTS A DEMEROL?”
“Not the one in the red dress.”
“IZZAT YER LISA-MARIE?”
“AH WILL NOT GRANT HER MAH PILLS. HOW ‘BOUT YOU?”
“Y’know what? I could be talked into my shoulder hurting.”
“HOT DAMN, HAIRY GARCIA! NOW ISS A PARTY!”
“I’ll take one, too, man.”
“AW RIGHT, MAN! DEMEROLS F’R EV’RYBODY ‘CEPT CARBUNCLE!”
“Is that Jerry at the bar?”
“Should the dead guy be sitting at the bar in full view of the room?”
“Oh, no. Absolutely not.”
“So, why is he?”
“Cuz that’s Garcia from ’89. He’s not dead yet. 2017 Garcia? Yeah, dead as disco. That guy should not be anywhere near the bar.”
“Why is Jerry from ’89 sitting at the bar?”
“Well, we weren’t gonna leave him in the car.”
“IT AIN’T A CAR! ISS A STUTZ!”
“In the Stutz.”
“Maybe I don’t want to be in this storyline.”
“NOBODY INVITED YA, CARBUNCLE!”
“Okay, I’m gonna go bang sorority chicks in the bathroom.”
“AVOID TH’ STALL ON TH’ LEFT. THAT POPEYE’S WENT RIGHT THROUGH ME.”
What is this?
Princess Bride reference. Nice, Phil.
“I’m with it.”
You’re very hip. Why are you allowed to marry people?
“Anyone in California is legally allowed to marry anyone to anything.”
So progressive. Weren’t you and Putin on the way to steal back all the time machines from ’85 you?
“We still are. Stopped for a minute.”
Lada break down?
“Lada broke down. Thing’s made out of popsicle sticks and promises.”
How’s ’69 Garcia?
“Really, really, really enjoying 21st century weed and pornography.”
Both of those things have come a long way in 50 years.
“Yeah, he’s thrilled. Although, he nearly shot the kid at Starbucks when he found out how much coffee costs now.”
’69 Garcia was packing?
“No, of course not. Jerry, along with the rest of the Dead, was a pacifist who didn’t believe in weapons of violence.”
Oh, we have a good time. Wait: where’s Putin?
“Right over there. He loves weddings. Even managed to find a date.”
“Is so romantic. Putin love veddings.”
Is that Steven Seagal?
“Da. Is my bro.”
What the hell is on his head?
“Nyet make fun of glorious Russian accent.”
“Is best accent. Ladies love.”
If the ladies love it, then why is Steven Seagal your date to a wedding?
“Is vingman. Going to meet tight American foxes. Butt play on bocce court.”
“You stay the hell away from those bocce courts, mister!”
“Nyet tell Putin vhat to do, Phil Grateful. Putin make love to voman butt vherever he please.”
“This deal is getting worse and worse all the time.”
“WELL, YER BASS PLAYER AIN’T AT TH’ WATER PARK, HAIRY GARCIA.”
“Elvis, I gotta admit something to you. I, uh, didn’t think that he was.”
“YOU JUS’ WANTED T’ GO T’ TH’ WATER PARK! YOU SLY DOG, YOU.”
“In my defense, we had a lot of fun.”
“IT WUZ A GOOD THING AH BROUGHT MAH BATHING-JUMPSUIT.”
“Yup. You looked good, too.”
“AH WUZ TH’ ONLY ONE IN TH’ PARK WITH A CAPE.”
“Well, you’re generally the only one in any building with a cape.”
“NAH, MAN. AH HANG OUT WITH A LOTTA MAGICIANS.”
“Ah. So, what’s the plan?”
“SENSEI BENJY HAS CALLED ME WITH AN UPDATE. POOTER AN’ TH’ OLD FELLA HE HANGIN’ OUT WITH GOT THEMSELVES SOME SORTA SECRET WEAPON. SOMETHIN’ CALLED A ‘JERRY.’ DUNNO ANY MORE THAN THAT.”
“Did the call get interrupted?”
“AH STOPPED PAYIN’ ATTENTION ONCE TH’ CONVERSATION WAS NO LONGER ‘BOUT ME.”
“Sure. A ‘Jerry,’ huh? I know where to get one of those. When, I mean.”
“LEAD ON, HAIRY GARCIA. WHICH WAY SHALL AH POINT MAH LUXURIOUS AUTOMOBILE?”
“Take the exit for 1989.”
“WANNA GET POPEYE’S?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Is there a car in the dressing room?”
“THIS AIN’T NO CAR, Y’ DINGDANG DRUGGIE! ISS A STUTZ BLACKHAWK!”
“Bobby? What the hell is happening?”
“I got you fried chicken.”
“Bob, did Elvis just shoot a blowdart into my ne–”
“He was getting in the car!”
“CAN’T TAKE NO CHANCES WITH NO DRUGGIE.”
“Well, you know: not to be pointing a finger, but you’ve eaten your weight in pills since we started our trip.”
“THASS MAH MEDICINE, BOY!”
“But you’ve been sharing it with me.”
“YOU LOOK SICK.”
“Dammit, man. All right, let’s just get him in the car.”
“WHY’D WE HAVE T’ GET ONE O’ TH’ FAT ITERATIONS, MAN?”
“Just help me.”
“AH SHALL HELP YOU. CHARLIE HODGE! HELP HAIRY GARCIA PUT WHATEVER TH’ HELL THIS THING IS IN TH’ STUTZ!”
“You make it difficult to be your friend.”
“WE AIN’T FRIENDS. WE BEST FRIENDS.”
“Great. Gimme the blow gun.”
“AH WILL GIVE IT T’ YOU BECAUSE AH WANT TO, NOT CUZ YOU SAID TO.”
“Whatever. And stop eating Jerry’s chicken!”
“IT JUS’ SMELLED SO DANG GOOD, MAN.”
“Am I too late?’
Post’s over, John.
“But, I had–”
“HOW MANY TIMES AH GOTTA PASS ON THAT BOY?”
You heard Elvis. Post’s over.
“I hate all of you.”
Good news in a morass of pitiful offerings, Enthusiasts: Cascadia’s champion, Mr. Completely, has once again graced us with a bracing blow of audio semi-fictionality. I cannot tell you what the best ever 1989 show was–4/2, 6/11, 14/3.14–but I can tell you what the best EVAR show was: this one.
These ones, more rightly, as Completely has created not one superb semi-fictional show, but two. (And they’re long fuckers, too.) Not “Best-Of” or whatever where the songs are jumbled and tossed without care, no: these two “shows” follow the rules of the Grateful Dead: alternating Garcia and Bobby tunes, little songs in the first set, weirdo bullshit in the second. If you didn’t know these shows didn’t actually happen, you might not realize it.
I won’t gush, but just tell you this: since Mr. Completely sent me the (almost) finished versions two weeks ago, I’ve listened to each show at least five times. It’s a home run mixed with a touchdown combined with a delicious corned beef sandwich while someone is touching your nipples in just the right way.
So: watch it on YouTube, or download either the FLAC, ALAC, or MP3 from the link, and then tell him how good it is in the Comment Section. Make sure you check out the detailed liner notes which, in keeping with Grateful Dead tradition, I was not asked to write. TotD gets a special thanks, but–in candor–my participation was mostly pestering him about including Foolish Heart.
Hey, Snake Tee-Shirt. Long time no see.
“How’sss it hanging?”
Can’t complain. You?
Aw, buddy. What’s the matter?
“Worried about the United Ssstatesss.”
We all are.
“I’m a patriot. You know I wasss in the Marine Corpsss.”
You don’t pronounce the S in that word, let alone pronounce it like that.
“You don’t ressspect veteransss.”
Yes, I do. And you are not a veteran.
“I ssserved my country, boy! Not like sssome pussssssiesss I could mention.”
You did not.
“I wasss at Khe Sssan.”
NO, YOU WERE NOT.
“Sssometimesss, I’m ssstill there. My buddiesss died in my handsss!”
You don’t have hands.
You don’t even have sleeves. You were not a Marine.
“Thisss isss my rifle, thisss isss my gun.”
YOU DON’T HAVE HANDS.
“Audie Murphy didn’t have handsss. They let him be a Marine.”
First of all, he was in the Army. Second of all, he lost his hands in combat. He didn’t show up at the draft office and open the door with his foot. Third of all, you are a tee-shirt.
Can’t be racist against shirts. Shirt is not a race.
“I even remember the sssongsss we would sssing when we marched.”
You can’t march. You slither.
“I DON’T KNOW, BUT IT’S BEEN SSSAID–”
“MARIE ANTOINETTE GIVESSS REAL GOOD HEAD!”
I regret talking to you.