Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: phil lesh (page 1 of 103)

That Time Phil Was Fatter Than Garcia: A Half-Assed Investigation

As is by now cliche, the Grateful Dead’s career can be sorted into chapters: Baby Dead, Single Drummer, Double Drummer, Brent, Vince, John Mayer; even the noobiest of noobs knows this. These chapters can be ¬†further broken down: Baby Dead can, like the years that followed–be sliced into Single/Double Drummer, and then Vince be split into Bruce/No Bruce, but the Brent Years can be shaved the finest. There’s Pre and Post Coma, obviously, but there was also a magical and mostly forgotten period towards the beginning of Brent’s tenure: That Time Phil Was Fatter Than Garcia.

We can eyeball it to Fall of ’80, but exact dates for TTPWFTG are unknown as of now.

It couldn’t have lasted more than one tour. This shot’s from 9/6/80 in Lewiston, Maine, which for some reason I thought was the Dead’s only trip up to Massachusetts’ vestigial tail, but they went there a lot. As you can see, Phil had been indulging in Maine’s signature dish, which is a deep-fried plaid hat slathered in mayonnaise. (Phil also broke into Stephen King’s house after the show, as he did at least once during each of the Dead’s visits to the state.)

Speaking of plaid:

We see that in October of the same year, Phil is still a huffalump.

By March of ’81, however, the Lord has reasserted His hand on the wheel, and normalcy reigns once more over the lot, as Phil and Garcia retake their appropriate positions on the Axis of Dead Chubbiness.

Lo, do you hear the winds a-winding? Feel the earth ‘neath your feet, or knees, or whatever you’ve got pressed up against the earth? Are you reeling in the years? Will you one day dandle your tyke ‘pon your knee and teach the old stories, the cruel stories, the lost jewels of birthright? Will you tell your child about That Time Phil Was Fatter Than Garcia? Will you do that for me?

Stop typing.


Do something useful with your life.

Don’t wanna.

The Days Of Skull And Roses

Hey, Bobby. Whatcha doing?

“Scat singing.”



Yeah, that’s scat singing. Anyone told you to knock it off yet?

“Billy’s been, uh, winging drumsticks at me for a few minutes.”

That counts.

“But the sweater absorbs most of the blows.”

Hell of a sweater, pal.

“It might surprise you to hear that–”

Someone’s old lady knitted it for you.

“–it was handmade. Uh, yeah.”

It’s got that look to it.

“Toasty sucker, too.”

Sure. Hey, Phil.

“Eat it, pud.”

Good to see you, too.

Spot The Heineken: Brent Edition

Hey, Brent. Whatcha doing?

“Having a beer.”



We don’t talk much, do we?

“Not really.”

We should work on that. Hey, Phil! I see you back there!

“Pound sand, twerp.”


Hey, Phil. Whatcha doing?

“Well, goddammit, if anyone should know what this is, it’s you.”

Very aggressive.

“I’m not the one who won’t shut up about being a Jew.”

You’re not a Jew.

“I am Jew-ish.”

True. The Grateful Dead were Righteous among Nations.

“No idea what that means.”

What genre of music is Jewiest?

“Hmm. Jam bands or whatever they’re called, that’s probably first. Wait, no. What’s that crap with the clarinet?”


“Very Jew-y.”

True. Did the Grateful Dead ever celebrate Hanukkah?

“Well, we all tried to ball chicks named Stacy Rosenberg around this time of year. And the Road Crew used to spin the Dreidel.”


“Only when they lost their deck of cards, but it happened.”

Happy Hanukkah, Phil.

“It won’t be that happy if I can’t sell these vegan latkes. There’s, like, no margin.”

Godchaux, I Said Godchaux

Hey, Keith. Whatcha doing?

“Hurmphle drup. Blaaaaah. Glunth.”

Uh-huh. You all right, pal?


Okay, then.



Keith collapsed.

“Yeah, he does that.”

Why was he set up out front, anyway?

“Makes it easier to get to him when he collapses.”


Happy Birth, Jay

“Happy birthday, Jay.”

“Aw, man, thanks. Phil, this is so nice of you to–”

“Eight bucks.”

“–do, and…what now?”

“Cake is eight bucks a slice. Pony up, longhair.”

“But it’s my birthday.”

“I’m running a restaurant here, camerafucker. No free cake.”

“Okay. Eight bucks?”

“Mm-hm. And two more for the candle.”

“Two bucks for a candle?”

“It’s vegan.”

And Then There Was That Time Phil Was In CCR

“Petey Pumphouse.”


“My mustache. If I had one, that is. I’d name him ‘Petey Pumphouse.’ It’s informal, yet harkens back to a more masculine era. Lotta hark in that name.”

“I don’t give a shit, Weir.”

“What’s your’s name?”

“I didn’t name my goddamned mustache, man.”

“What if it wanders away?”

“I’m gonna go stand behind the drums for a while.”

“Okay. I’ll, uh, see the two of you soon.”

Go Tele On The Mountain

“Hey, Jer?”

“What, Weir?”

“I’m kinda digging this Telecaster. Thinking about maybe becoming a Tele guy.”

“A what?”

“Telecaster guy. Get myself a shirt styled in the cowboy fashion. Maybe one of those haircuts that requires unguent to maintain its integrity.”

“Haven’t I told you to stay away from unguents, man?”

“At least once a day since 1968.”

“It’s good advice I’m giving you.”

“I think the Deadheads would appreciate the change. Perhaps they could learn to line-dance.”

“They can barely stand in lines, man.”

“Jer, I’ve heard the sound of my soul, and that sound is ‘twang.'”

“Just play the damn song, Weir.”


Kim, Chi(ld)

Oh, so that’s what Grahame looks like under his beard.

“It’s not Grahame, you numbskull.”

Who is it?

“Ah, I dunno. One of those teen guitar prodigies that comes along every couple years. I think he plays the blues, maybe.”

You think?

“Just judging by the hat.”

Sure. You jam with him?

“Maybe when he gets his braces off.”



“Oh, thank God. I can ignore you.”

“Terrapin Crossroads, home of the all-you-can-eat vegan shrimp platter. Phil speaking.”


“Ah, shit.”

“That Baby Levon? Grow up so fast.”

“No, it’s not Baby Levon. What do you want?”

“Slasher there? He no pick up phone.”

“Who the hell is ‘Slasher?'”

“Has hair. Top hat. Used to no wear shirt, but now wear shirt.”

“Oh, Slash. Yeah, no. He’s not here.”

“No biggie. You get liver I send?”

“Yes, and you need to stop sending them. Where are you even getting all these human livers?”

“Only Korean politics very serious game.”


“See people on horses behind me? Are back-up organs. Always bring with.”

“I’m hanging up.”

“Tell Jill Kim Jong-Un say hi.”


Penny For Your Thoughts On The Dead

Hey, Phil. Whatcha doing?

“My job. Some of us have them, layabout.”

Are you using a penny as a pick?

“There are no guitar picks in Holland in 1981.”

Oh, right. This is the Oops Concert. You guys really did show up with no gear, huh?

“I didn’t even remember my glasses. The whole country is just a watery blur. Might as well be in Venice.”

Quick question.

“Is it stupid? Almost all of your questions are stupid as shit.”

It’s not stupid.

“I’ll be the judge.”

Are you hairier than you are sweaty, or sweatier than you are hairy?

“Yeah, like I said: stupid as shit.”

Mickey yoink that shirt for you?

“I was gonna grab it, but it gives him such joy.”

You’re a good friend.

“Go away.”

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