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

Tag: donna jean godchaux (Page 1 of 15)

Ran Out Of Track…

Hey, Mrs. Donna Jean. Whatcha doing?

“Mah part, sugah! Ah’m th’ getaway pilot.”


“F’r the Murder Heist.”

Oh, goddammit.

“Ah’ll poke out y’r eyes if’n you blaspheme anymore.”

Sorry, ma’am. I’m just a bit frustrated by the durability of this stupid idea.

“Nothin’ stupid ’bout an old-fashioned Murder Heist.”

Why is it capitalized?

“Cuz it’s so proper, sugah.”

And you’re the getaway pilot?

“Mm-hmm. Course, Ah also provide a platform for th’ wingsuited ninjas.”

I suppose you can’t have a Murder Heist without wingsuited ninjas becoming involved.

“Be like peach cobbler without th’ peaches! Simply won’t do.”

Do we know the wingsuited ninjas?

“The Busboys from Terrapin Crossroads.”


“Between you an’ me, them boys don’t have their papers, but they Christians.”

What precisely is getting heisted, and who is getting murdered?

“Oh, that ain’t how we do it ’round here. Compartmentalization is th’ key. Ah just know Ah land on Wilshire Boulevard right outside the Tar Pits at exactly 3:18 PM.”

Then what?

“I pick up mah passengers and get t’ scootin’.”

Your passengers? You don’t know who you’re picking up?

“Need t’ know, sugah. Ah was told that Ah’d recognize ’em. Prob’ly gonna be Elvis. Maybe Billy. Y’gotta admit this whole plan stinks o’ Billy.”

It does. I want to lodge my formal complaint about this storyline.

“They can’t all be winners, sugah.”

I guess not.

This One’s In B

One must assume that Mickey only brought underwear and socks on tour, and each day wandered–bare-chested and half-cocked–by the merch table to yoink himself a fetching top.


If Mrs. Donna Jean had balls, they’d fall out of those shorts. Balls are always looking for a way out; they’re like Papillon.


What the hell is Bobby playing? It’s an Ibanez, but it’s not Cowboy Fancy. Anyone?

Mrs. Dancing Jean Godchaux

Hey, Mrs. Donna Jean. Whatcha doing?

“Ah’m jus’ beboppin’ mah day away, sugah.”

You look good in burnt ochre.

“It’s 1974, darlin’. Th’ whole world was this color. Least, most livin’ rooms were.”

Did you ever break out any high-energy dance moves with the Dead?

“It ain’t high-steppin’ music, sugah. Grateful Dead’s f’r swayin’ to.”

“And then swayin’ fro. Y’gonna sway both ways, but there’s gonna be a itty-bitty pause in ‘tween there.”


“‘Occasionally, Ah’ll do some hand stuff. Flutterin’ and all.”

You ever think about pulling out a Stevie Nicks twirl once in a while?

“Bless your heart, honeypop. Ah’ve had too much Sambuca t’do any twirlin’. Liable t’make me violently un-ladylike.”

You keep on being you, Mrs. Donna Jean.

“All Ah c’n do is try, sugah, but Ah’ll do jus’ that.”

Special People

One of the best things about the Dead is how little clothing the members owned. Bobby wore that shirt, like, every other day in ’72.


Where’s you get that guitar. Bobby?

“It was handed to me as I took the stage.”

Sure. But it’s not your usual axe.

“Huh. Guess not. But, uh, like I said: I’m handed a guitar as I take the stage. I don’t get into the logistics.”

Okay. Hey, Mrs. Donna Jean. Whatcha doing?

“Trippin’ balls, sugar.”

Professionalism at every turn.


That is a Les Paul Special, which was also available with a single-cutaway, but looked cooler in the double-cut configuration and coolest in the so-called “TV Yellow” finish. (That shade was believed to look fabulous on black-and-white teevee sets.) Gibson only made ’em from ’55-’60, when they were replaced by the far-less-cuddly SG.


Anyone know of any other shows when Bobby played that guitar? Scholar Michael Clem informs us that Garcia played an identical instrument during the Summer ’71 tour:

Is it, in fact, the same guitar that Bobby is wielding in the picture above, which we are told is from 10/18/72 at the Fabulous Fox Theater in St. Louis? Go ask your families, Enthusiasts. Demand answers from those parasites, and meet me back here around midnight. Bring sandwiches.

Heart Of Gold Bandana

Hey, Mrs. Donna Jean. Whatcha doing?

“Oh, hey, sugar. Ah’m jes waitin’ for those dang ol’ boys t’ stop their fiddlin’ an’ faddlin’ so’s Ah c’n git up there an’ do mah warblin’.”

Your accent gets thicker every time we talk.

“Ah ain’ got no accent, sugar. You’s th’ one talkin’ funny. Where all y’all people from again?”

New Jersey.

“Mm-hmm. What ’bout before that?”

I am not having this conversation.

“Wuz it a swarthy locale?”

Stop it.

“Lotta swarth out there in th’ world, sugar.”

Mrs. Donna Jean, all the Enthusiasts have a question.

“Ah don’ know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies.”

That was not the question.

“Jasper wasn’t really mah uncle. His relationship to mah family wuz…complicated.”

It’s like you grew up in a dream Faulkner had after too much whiskey and Chinese food. But that wasn’t the question, either.

“Well, shoot, stop beatin’ ’round yer bumbledeebush.”

Okay. You know that Keith didn’t do any interviews, and so the Enthusiasts in 2019 don’t really have a sense of who he was as a person.

“Sugar, you gonna make mah mascara run, askin’ me them thangs. Ah called him Droopy. You remember Droopy Dawg from them ol’ cartoons? That’s what he looked like t’ me. Mah Droopy loved him some Jesus. If we wuz still awake, we would go t’ Church on Sunday mornin’.”


“You betcha. Even on th’ road. We’d go t’ th’ black folks’ church, cuz they had th’ better choirs.”

No argument from me.

“An’ then we’d come home an’ beat on one ‘nother f’r a while.”

Right, that. Why?

“Bein’ Grateful Deads wuz makin’ us both crazy.”

Yeah, okay.

“Ain’t good f’r your soul t’ be a Rock Star, sugar. All them limos twist ya right up. Look how many folks that li’l choogly band killed! You c’n do th’ math. Your people’s good at that.”

And we’re back here.

“Jes like that song mah daddy used t’ sing t’ me ’bout that ol’ boy Finnegan.”

All I Know Is That She Sang A Lille While

Hey, Mrs. Donna Jean. Whatcha doing?

“Ah’m boogyin’, sugar. Most nobody don’ know what kinda moves Ah got.”

You mostly just swayed gently onstage.

“Ah was under strict instructions! Miz Donna Jean, we ain’t that kinda band. That’s what e’rybody would tell me. Otherwise, Ah woulda done a li’l hotsteppin’.”

I had no idea.

“Dancin’ Queen Donna Jean. That was mah nickname growin’ up in Alabama. Ah once had the honor of performin’ the tango with Governor Wallace.”

What was that like?

“He kept jammin’ his pecker into mah stomach.”

Sounds right.


I see you back there, Ramrod.





C’mon (Up), Everybody!

Everybody’s favorite fun game: Spot The Fret-Eeze.


Cipollina was the only one from that whole Summer of Love batch that actually looked like a Rock Star.


Lee Oskar’s harmonibelt is not worse than John Popper’s harmonoliers. It’s not better, either.




Is everyone allowed on stage? There’s all sorts of randos creeping in from the corners.



“Modified work stoppage.”

You’re on strike?

“Nope. Just forgetting to do certain parts of the job. Like keeping randos off the stage.”


“Band and crew aren’t getting along. I don’t even remember the exact reasons. Started at a softball game, and Kidd crashed Mickey’s car, and then Phil liked this chick but Ramrod threw up on her. It’ll be good for us. Relationship’s gotta be re-balanced every now and again.”

Sure. How long until the randos start wandering out and hugging Garcia?

“It’s already happened. Why you think he’s ducking back there by the drum kit?”


Seven In 77

Going generally counter-clockwise, but retaining the option to call an audible and double-back or skip around:

  • Is Keith staring Death in the eyes?
  • That’s the only explanation for that expression.
  • And he is about to spill his Fanta.
  • Keith Godchaux loved Fanta.
  • Mrs. Donna Jean, as always, has the best hair; if she were a collie, you would think her owner had been mixing raw eggs in with her kibble.
  • I bet Mrs. Donna Jean had all sorts of rules and schedules and protocols regarding her hair and its upkeep.
  • Shampoo once every this many days, and condition once every that many, and various calibers of comb and brush.
  • Plus assorted scarfs and babushkas for bad hair days.
  • Deadheads over the years have spread vile rumors about Mrs. Donna Jean regarding supposed assignations that were extramarital but intrabandial, and I find this low gossip intolerable and cruel.
  • But she definitely wasn’t banging Phil.
  • That is some rough body language there.
  • The longer you look, the more they hate each other.
  • The hips are the giveaway, but Mrs. Donna Jean’s lean–as if she’s italicizing herself–is the clincher; one will also note Phil’s posture, which can be described only as “surly.”
  • Everyone in the top row is happy not to be in the bottom row, because the bottom row is weird and unfun and Keith might have just pooped himself.
  • OF IMPORTANCE: Each of the non-Billy men in the top row has taken caution in re: getting their dicks punched, and punched hard.
  • Bobby’s elected to go all-in with the knee, while Mickey and Garcia have not only positioned their shoulders in front of Billy’s, relieving him of any leverage, but also have their free hands in dick-adjacent readiness.
  • The non-Billy men have done this unconsciously, by sheer muscle memory, as they have been in a band with Billy for 12 years now.
  • You live, you learn.
  • Speaking of Billy, this–long hair and mustache–was his best look.
  • Coming back from the Hiatus to ’77, I think.
  • He looked like a dog-track habitue.
  • Owned a dozen laundromats on the black side of town, racist as fuck, good tipper, got divorced more than he got married.
  • Had an Airedale terrier named Chico.
  • And finally: Being a Rock Star is a hoot most of the time, but you’re still gonna spend a lot of afternoons in rooms with folding chairs and bare lightbulbs.
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