Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Tag: 8/13/75

Posty Post


Sick boy.

No write.

Go sleepy.


Listen to One From The Vault.

Play with genitals.

Kill the mailman.

Of all the non-calorie cola beverages, Diet Doctor Pepper tastes most like its progenitor.

Kill the mailman.

Great American Music Band

one from the vault show

There is quite literally no other performing combo on the planet that would put Phil in the middle.

“Who gets set up in the center? The good-looking one?”


“The iconic guitar god?”


“The guy in the sweatband?”

“Yup! Front and center.”

“Whatever you say, Precarious.”

Thoughts From The Vault 2

  • Second set and we’re opening with Sugaree and that may be a sign of the Apocalypse.
  • Also, this Sugaree is not twenty minutes long, which means that it has failed, in my eyes.
  • All Sugarees want to be at least fifteen minutes long, and when you don’t let the Sugaree breathe, it’s like you’re suffocating it in the crib.
  • Do not abortion the Sugaree.
  • My favorite part of Sugaree is when Garcia solos.
  • I also enjoy when Garcia solos again.
  • The third, fourth, and fifth Garcia solos are beloved by all, I would presume.
  • The words are good, too: it’s such a cheerful sounding song, but the words are full of dread.
  • Something bad has happened.
  • No one says that “maybe I’ll meet you on the run” when things have gone to plan.
  • Speaking of solos, and Garcia, Big River is next and Garcia solos over the entire song.
  • Garcia secretly defined music as “something I can solo over.”
  • Garcia didn’t mind ending sentences with prepositions; he was a man of the people, and therefore a descriptivist.
  • I think I’ll come back to this, but: the drummers never sounded like this, not before or after.
  • The first two-drummer era, at its best, was defined by two guys playing at each other with some guitarists in the middle.
  • They would essentially talk to themselves and that sound of the snares whacking back and forth at one another–
  • Bakka-dah (Bakka-dah) Bakka-dah (Bakka-dah)
  • –exemplified the Baby Dead.
  • That’s not what they’re doing here, though: Mickey is complementing Billy, like in the old days, but not challenging him in a game of “who can hit his snare drum loudest?”
  • During the 80’s, Mickey and Billy developed a different strategy: let’s play the exact same thing at exactly the same time, almost.
  • There are a number of songs from OFTV that are in the running for BEST EVAR, but not Crazy Fingers.
  • This is inarguably the best this song was ever performed by an enormous margin.
  • If the category were “snorting things up your nose,” this Crazy Fingers would be cocaine, and all the other versions would be everything else you might shove up your snout.
  • None of the Grateful Deads played the song particularly well, but Garcia seemed to have it out for the pretty little tune, forgetting all the words on several occasions.
  • The jam is majesterious, which is not a word, but you knew what it meant, which makes it a word.
  • Language is all kinds of fucked up if you give it even a passing thought.
  • Once again: Drums.
  • But, you know: they only have their actual human-sized drum kits.
  • At no point will Mickey strap train horns to his crotch, but he did bring crickets.
  • I can’t tell the whole Mickey and the crickets story, but the tl:dr is that Mickey declared crickets musical instruments, spent tens of thousands of dollars on them, then released them in a building he did not own.
  • He did this because it is one of the answers to the question, “What is the most Mickey thing I can be doing right now?”
  • The lack of piano is something you don’t recognize until you do, but then you know what it is.
  • Keeping Keith on the Fender Rhodes piano instead of his usual grand piano makes the band much lighter, and the Rhodes’ buzzy, warm timbre sounds similar enough to Bobby’s lightly distorted guitar that your brain blends them into one great, head-straddling SOUND and it’s not terrible.
  • The band had been recording Blues for Allah up at Bobby’s place, playing every day, and it sounded like it.
  • Sage and Spirit has no reason to be here, but it’s beautiful, so it should be here.
  • Bobby did steal that one chord change from At Seventeen by Janis Ian, though.
  • There’s also a bit of Lost Sailor in there, and I wonder if that one bar annoyed Mickey more than the rest of the song.
  • Then we head for the big finish with Going Down the Road, which is played by itself.
  • Phil is very boingy: he boings heavily and with verve.
  • If Garcia were alive, I would slap the shit out of him for dying.
  • Fucking guy.
  • Everyone shares Secret Hero of this one, but Garcia is definitely the Garcia.
  • Oh.
  • Huh.
  • Look at that.
  • I have been listening to this album on a very regular basis for 25 years and I just realized they played US Blues>Blues for Allah.
  • There’s a political joke in there somewhere, but there are also ribs in my refrigerator.

Thoughts From The Vault

  • I’ve just listened to One from the Vault and I’m at Blues for Allah, so I’m going to listen to Blues for Allah and circle back around.
  • If I just start again, I will not listen to Blues for Allah because it will be late and I will be tired and Blues for Allah is goofy.
  • It is a deeply goofy song.
  • Actually, I don’t suppose it qualifies as a “song,” does it?
  • It’s music, but I don’t know about whether it’s a song.
  • A good deal of it is just re-packaged Space.
  • “Weir, sound like the desert.”
  • “Whaddya mean, Jer?”
  • “I dunno: pretend you’re a sand dune.”
  • “Stop undulating, Bobby.”
  • “I was getting into character.”
  • One from the Vault (hereafter referred to as OFTV) is the recording of 8/13/75 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, which is a tiny place that is still there and open, right down the street from the O’Farrell Theater, which is still there and open.
  • You can look up the O’Farrell yourself, but the short version: two brothers ran a fuck theater, one shot the other; since it was the 70’s and 80’s, there was cocaine involved.
  • At one point, Hunter S. Thompson had moved into the theater.
  • First day of business school: do not let Hunter S. Thompson move into your business.
  • The “Under Eternity” bit of Blues for Allah at the end is Mrs. Donna Jean’s finest hour: she kills it and is genuinely scary – she sounds like an evil muezzin, calling the faithful to prayers…
  • …of DEATH.
  • That would be a great horror movie if everyone involved wouldn’t get stabbed for making it.
  • Nobody’s writing Blues for Allah now.
  • I mean, no one’s really doing twenty-minute suites with giant freak-out sections and one of the drummers playing crickets.
  • But, also not doing any pop tunes about Allah at all, really.
  • Good evening.
  • We welcome you.
  • On behalf of the group.
  • Greatest intro ever, and well-improved for the excision of the Bill Graham’s line about getting paid to do it.
  • No one speaks with Bill Graham’s accent anymore and the world is less for it.
  • Phil makes it.
  • You don’t realize that they;re really doing the old show biz chestnut until Phil responds to his name.
  • The old tricks are old for a reason and then Garcia stabs at those ice pick intro chords as Bill Graham gets out of the way.
  • Would you welcome, please, the Grateful Dead.
  • They almost could have just packed up the gear and gone home after that.
  • That intro is perfect: it’s dramatic, in that there’s a beginning, middle, and end; it’s musical, and not just the band jumping in one-by-one, but in Bill Graham’s Bronx accent; and it’s classic.
  • No boasting about the hottest band in the land; just say the name.
  • Help>Slip>Frank: BEST EVAR or merely HoF?
  • Some people ask themselves, how do I feed the hungry, or cure the sick.
  • I think my question is just as vital.
  • What if you were hungry for a good H>S>F?
  • Or sick of bad ones?
  • I assume that Garcia is playing the Travis Bean, and I’ll state it unequivocably: this is the greatest guitar he ever played, and I stand by that statement until the very instant I next put on a ’72.
  • Franklin’s is one of my favorites, and the versions from 1975 all have this slightly out-of-control feel to them; Garcia sounds almost frenzied on the Lindley Meadows show take, and here, too, he attacks his solos like a drunk man trying to get his money back from a hooker after failing to achieve a sufficient erection.
  • Also, he gets every single word right and doesn’t mix up the verses or repeat any verses.
  • Because he did that constantly.
  • Franklin’s was Garcia’s Truckin’.
  • It’s also one of Hunter’s best songs.
  • I’m sure it’s about something.
  • And yet, it is in no way doggerel or gibberish and hippie-dippie nonsense.
  • It’s as good a lyric as anything he’s ever written, including the concept album he wrote for Quiet Riot called Pick Up the Phone: Metal’s Calling.
  • Everything about the show is weird: the venue, the structure of the sets, the songlist.
  • As always, the facts–as far as we know them–can be found at Lost Live Dead, wherein we learn that the 600-person (or so) joint was packed with radio folks from all over.
  • The Dead had retired, remember, and in the rock world of 1975, 10 months was a long time.
  • They had a new record out and wanted to get it played on the radio, which required giving DJs cocaine and making Program Directors feel important.
  • So, not only was it a small crowd, but also the first non-Deadhead crowd the band had played for in a while.
  • If this Eyes of the World were a van, it would have a dragon with giant tits airbrushed on the side and stop for you when you hitchhiked.
  • Inside, there would be shag carpeting and captain’s chairs and aquariums and a half-court for basketball and a breakfast nook and a conversation pit and a bay window for the cat.
  • The cat’s name is Mouse.
  • On the shag carpet, there is a girl in Jordache jeans and a halter top; there is fringe on the halter top and the strands sway with the curves of the roads.
  • She asks you where you’re going, and hands you a joint; it is powerful and when you close your eyes while coughing, the girl is on top of you with her fangs bared.
  • Stop doing that.
  • Anyway, the Eyes is one of their best, with its sprawling, multi-partite Phil solos and Billy and Mickey are answering each other and chasing each other through time signatures while Garcia covers the top part and Bobby and Keith play the actual song.
  • And Drums.
  • There will always be a Drums.
  • King Solomon’s Marbles is fucking tragic if you think about it.
  • Jesus, listen to them: all six of them nimbly dancing around the beat and hitting every cue, sliding in and out of sections with a Dirk Diggler-esque confidence, throwing the melody from Keith’s Rhodes piano to Garcia and back.
  • It’s jazz-rock that doesn’t suck, so: not jazz-rock at all, but you get my meaning.
  • Alas, this kind of music requires rehearsal, while mid-tempo tramps through Dylan tunes didn’t.
  • Three realities down, there’s a Dead that took this show for itself as a challenge and spent the next decades very differently.
  • Of course, four realities down, there’s a Dead that did the same thing, but their fans hated it and they broke up and now Billy still lives in Hawaii, but under a bridge.
  • You could just play Chick Berry tunes, man.

Great American Music

One From the Vault may be the best show the Grateful Dead ever played, or it may just be my favorite show, or it may just be the show I’ve listened to the most.

I’ve started this post fourteen times, trying each time to figure out what there was to really say about this show; I failed every time; it is magic and here it is.