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

Tag: eyes of the world

Sometimes We Visit Your Country

“Howdy, Sport. New in town?”

“How’d you know?”

“I watched you get off that bus.”

BUS PULLING AWAY NOISE

“Oh, sure. You’re a deducer.”

“I sure am. Lemme give you some advice, Sport: when you hear the flapping, run for cover.”

“Flapping?”

“Flapping.”

“Like a bird?”

“But moreso. Way, way moreso.”

“A big bird?”

“You’ll see.”

NUTTHATCH WITH WINGS A MILE LONG HOVING OVERHEAD NOISE

“Oh, God, what the fuck is that?”

“It’s a Long-Winged Nuthatch. Mile-long, precisely.”

“How can it exist?”

“We had some of our best scientists trying to figure that out.”

“And?”

“Eaten by the nuthatch. It actually scooped up the entire building they were in.”

“Jesus!”

“Keep it down, Sport. That thing’s got ears the size of diners.”

“It’s like a dragon with feathers.”

“No, it isn’t. Dragons are a fraction of that size. It’s just high up right now so you can’t see how big it is. Wait ’til it swoops.”

“Will it definitely swoop?”

“Oh, yeah. Death, taxes, and the nuthatch swooping into town and gobbling up a few folks. At least a few. Last Tuesday, it ate the entire varsity basketball team.”

“That’s terrible.”

“Eh. They were 1-5.”

“Why don’t you do something?”

“We did. We promoted the JV squad.”

“No, I meant about the bird.”

“What can we do? We tried shooting it, but we just couldn’t find a big enough gun. Say, you don’t happen to have a Hellfire missile on you?”

“Sorry.”

“Never hurts to ask.”

DEAFENING NOISE NOISE

“Oh, God, what is that?”

“It’s singing! Y’gotta remember: its vocal cords are two city blocks long. Generates a lot of decibels. One time, it was perched on the ground and it chirped. The pressure from the sound wave made some babies explode.”

“Holy shit.”

“Yeah, that was fucked up. Y’get used to a lot of things, but not that. I can’t eat calzones anymore.”

“Awful.”

“I know. I loved calzones.”

“No, I meant the babies.”

“Sure, okay.”

“Listen, no offense, but I’m gonna get going.”

TITANIC HORROR-BIRD EATING A BUS NOISE

“Were you planning on taking the bus?”

“Guess not.”

Security To The Stage, Please

From relentless commentator and Prime Minister of Park Slope Drew, we get this from 2/11/86. It’s the Boys with the Brothers and approximately 84 million people are onstage and the cut for tonight is Eyes of the World.

Every Neville in the world is up there, banging and hammering and some rude motherfucker brought his goddamn drum machine and maybe the monitors aren’t working, or maybe there’s just too many Nevilles, but it does not work.

Give it a listen: it sounds like Garcia wants to throttle someone, specifically someone large, black, and invited by Mickey.

Seriously: how many Nevilles are on the stage? Are Longbottom and Chamberlain there, too?

PS Starting in Spetember on CBS: Too Many Nevilles!

Just Like Jack & Jill

The Dead wrote about 135 songs, and did probably half again as many covers, except that doesn’t tell the whole story. Mainly because some songs, they wrote three or four times.

Jack-A-Roe and Peggy-O are–thematically–the same song: doomed love, hyphens, Game of Thrones vibe. Ramble On Rose and  Tennessee Jed are musically the same song, while Ramble On Rose and U.S. Blues are lyrically the same song. Eyes of the World and Help on the Way could be mistaken for each other in a dark alley.

The Dead are lucky that they premiered Iko, Samson, Throwing Stones,and Women are Smarter after their mind-blowing Europe ’72 warm-up show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (Dick’s Pick 30). Otherwise, jamming with Mr. Diddley might have been a little more awkward. (And if you haven’t checked out this offering, you’re just a sillypants: the first disc* alone is worth the price of admission, featuring the five song Bo Diddley jam, a version of Are You Lonely For Me, Baby that defines “ragged but right,” and the only GD performance of How Sweet It Is**–which is odd, because they really rock the hell out of it, but perhaps the three chord tune was a bit boring for a certain bass player.)

To Lay Me Down, Must Have Been the Roses, and Ship of Fools are identical cousins; Black-Throated Wind and Looks Like Rain a bit more distantly related, but still clearly available to donate organs to one another. (Don’t tell Phil.) Chinatown Shuffle and U.S. Blues aren’t fooling anyone.

Now, don’t take this as any sort of chastisement, of course. Hell, a lot of really, really popular bands ripped themselves off: for example, AC/DC has only written, like, three songs in their entire career, which puts them two ahead of the Ramones.

*I hadn’t listened all the way through that first amazing disc when I wrote this, but you MUST check out the Smokestack Lightning, which is usually kind of a drag, but cooks right here PLUS the added fun of–about 8 minutes in or so–hearing Bobby try again and again to drag the rest of them into Truckin’, but the rest of them are simply not having it.

**I mistakenly thought that Bobby and Garcia played How Sweet It Is on Letterman, but it was actually Second That Emotion, because, in keeping with the theme of the post, they are also pretty much the same song. Check it out, anyway: Garcia with Tiger, Bobby with Pepto Pink, and the MONSTROUS Will Lee holding down the bass and backup vocals.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOeDEVyUBek&w=420&h=315]

A Grateful Dead Movie

Best Set: First!

Second-best Set: Second!

Set List: Fairly standard for the era!

Show Highlight: SUGAR BEGONIAS! Seriously, do yourself a favor and listen to the seamless perfection of the transition. It got a round of applause in the theater. If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn they practiced.

Small Favor: This film was not presented in 3D.

Shortest shorts: Wild guess!

Highest Light: Bird Song! Nice laid back jam at the end and Garcia’s voice still had its last tinges of sweetness. (You ever hear his voice crack on a high note, or slip and slide around the pitch like the rest of them? No…and no fair bringing up the laryngitis shows.)

Lowest Light: Eyes! That they at least had the courtesy to not play it for thirty-five minutes is the kindest thing that can be said about this particular rendition.

Love Light: And leave it on!

Goddamn Bullshit: $12.50 for the ticket, 11.50 for the popcorn and coke! (I am physically unable to stop myself from ordering the Jumbo Combo Snack Pack. I have watched precisely one movie in my life without popcorn and a coke: Super Cop with Jackie Chan. Atkins diet. Never again.)

Nicest Tradition: Smoke break during drums/space! You meet the nicest, most reasonable people during the drums/space bathroom-smoke-wander around break. They, too, refuse to coddle those muppets for the 85 minutes an evening they took to whack on things and play bloopy noises.

Saddest Thought: Maybe there’ll be a lady there and…I don’t want to talk about it.

Secret Hero: Brent! Brent was all over this show–musically–and he got as much camera time as anyone but Garcia. He’s fun to watch, too: throwing himself up and down his B-3 and smacking at its keys to produce that ‘ducka ducka’ sound. Plus, he’s got very large, very blue eyes that poke out from the Gimli of Gloin beard covering the rest of his face, and he zeroes in on Garcia with utter joy. I think there were pictures of his little girls taped to his piano and then he would look at Garcia and it was all very sad.

Average Age: Not all that young! Lot of sandals, too. Plus: a crazy guy! Old grizzled hippie-biker guy who apparently thought 7:00 PM at the Boynton Beach Plexiplex was going to turn into an acid test and we would all lube ourselves up with butter topping and do some sort of movie-orgy. He did have one good line, though: when Garcia lit up on-screen, Biker Guy chastised him, “Those things’ll kill ya!”

Best Factoid: Floor mats! Bobby, Phil, and Garcia had, laying on top of the rugs, what looked like floor mats right in front of their mikes. I was confused until I half-remembered that they were pressure pads that turned the mike on as they stepped up to sing. Which is clever, in an over-engineered, MythBusters sort of way.

Worst Pope: Bobby Knucklesandwiches VI! Seriously, that guy shit the bed.

Secret Secret: Phil! He didn’t get a close-up until halfway through the second set, when he terrified the entire audience by stepping up to his microphone to sing backup on Dear Mr Fantasy. A visible shudder went through the crowd, I swear to you. The only shots we got of him were immensely unflattering. Remember the sweatpants with the elastic on the ankles? Yeah, those. Plus, he was playing my least favorite of his basses, the headless Modulus. There is something unpleasantly fidgety about those headless guitars and I don’t trust them.

Biggest Surprise: Tyler Perry’s cameo as Madea!

Nicest Try: The Covers Project! Before the show, they showed three videos: classical guitar guy playing Bird Song endlessly, hipsters with too many Gram Parsons records wearing artisanal suspenders playing Brown-Eyed Women, also endlessly. Finally, a fat guy showed up and just awesomed all over his bass to accompany himself on I Will Take You Home. Pretty decent, that one.

Secreter Hero: The Director! (And the editor! and producer! as well, I guess.) Completely avoiding almost every annoying rock concert cliché. No swooshing Video Toaster effects, no split-screen, and quite clearly no over-dubs: coming out of space, the MIDI controller on Wolf crapped out, leaving Garcia standing there doodling noiselessly.

Shitting Me: 22 minutes and 28 seconds! That is the combined length of drums/space.

Best Face: Billy’s! Halfway through drums, Mickey called his usual audible and turned the promised Beating of the Drums into the predictable Berating of the Roadies. Billy just smirked at him and continued whacking his bongos.

Worst Hair: Mickey! He looked like the  hostage with whom you didn’t empathize.

Bobbiest Bobby: Bobby! Good sweet mammy, was Bobby as Bobby as he could be tonight! Doing his little duck-neck shrug and the lunge and those thighs! (In the spirit of truth-telling, Bobby does have a kick-ass set of gams. Bobby is up in the gym, working on his fitness.) His hair was nothing short of spectacular and he remembered the words to everything, even an awesome Stuck Inside of Mobile, and that song has a ridiculous amount of words. They should have told Bobby they were making a movie every night. (Not only did Bobby remember all the words this show, but check out the next night, when he crushes Desolation Row. BOBBY, WHY YOU REMEMBER ALL 20 BILLION VERSE  DESOLATION ROW, BUT FUCK UP PROMISED LAND? Yeah, Bobby: what the Vietnamese immigrant screamed at you.

My God: Phil’s outfit! I don’t mean to harp, but that inch of white tube sock in between the ankle elastic of sweatpant and the top of his New Balance sneakers is simply not doing it for me. The only thing Phil was missing was a mustard stain and a pocketful of food court napkins.

MexiBobby Blues

“How long are you going to play Eyes tonight, guys?”

“From immediately after drums until the heat death of the Universe.”

“So, the same as last night, then?”

“Yes.”

I once heard a ’74 Playin’ that is still being played at this moment.  It has been going on for nigh-on-40 years now because Phil is, and I am quoting a man who belongs to several tough-guy unions and yet still allows other people to call him Ramrod, “really feeling it.”

The only reason to play a song for as long as the Grateful Dead played several of their’s is if the lack of music will trigger a bomb. Like the Grateful Dead were in Speed, and Bobby is Keanu so he is pretending to be a Cop On The Edge instead a Cowboy With A Broken Heart this time.

As we’ve discussed, Bobby actually thought he was a fucking cowboy. Now, each of the Dead’s singers had a certain persona they delivered their songs through: Jerry was the Gambler, Bobby was the Cowboy, and Phil was The Guy Who Couldn’t Sing. Now, when Jerry did Deal or Loser or whatever, he was delivering these songs from a uniquely American perspective, one that he and Hunter had crafted to serve as an avatar for the Dead’s sheer Americanness.

For the Dead were the most American band there ever was: far too loud, prone to ridiculous, money-losing foreign entanglements, drugged out of its mind, and dying of diabetes. But also capable of the most astonishing grace–American. And what’s more that than the Gambler, armed with his six-shooter and his wits? Garcia and Hunter recognized this metaphor and wrung all they could out of it.

Except Bobby actually thought he was a fucking cowboy. He apparently spent part of one teenaged summer a’ropin’ and a’rasslin and a’rompin’ and a’ridin’ and whatever the fuck else gentiles do in the summer. You can imagine Bobby traipsing through the fields, shirtless, asking the farmhands if they thought he was pretty.

Thereafter, Bobby was a fucking cowboy and we had to sit through Mexicali Blues every other night