Grateful Dead

What do they believe? What do you think? Talk about religion as it exists today.
John2
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Re: Grateful Dead

Post by John2 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:29 am

Nice to see you here, Peter. And I agree with El Dorado:
For me, the point of going to their shows was never the acid/LSD and, to be honest, not even really their music (due to a lack of hallucinogenics maybe?), it was the colorful people, eccentric crowd and unpredictable circus/fair-like environment they attracted. There's really just nothing and no act or show that compares, none.
I never saw the Dead with Jerry, but I did take LSD at my first Dead-related show in 1998 in St. Louis (when I was 26), and I didn't take any at the last Dead-related show I saw in 2015 in Chicago (when I was 43), and I can say that I had an amazing experience at both shows (and I was 27 the last time I took any at all). It really is about the music for me. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had been a "straight edge" punk before I discovered the Dead in 1992 and still retain elements of that lifestyle (I'm a vegetarian and don't drink alcohol, for example).

There is/was a group of Dead Heads called Wharf Rats, named for the song Wharf Rat about an alcoholic who wants to get back on his feet ("the good Lord willing, if He says I may").
Wharf Rats are a group of concert-goers who have chosen to live drug and alcohol free ... Their primary purpose is to support other concert goers who choose to live drug-free, like themselves. They announce their presence with yellow balloons, signs, and the Wharf Rats information table ... Like Deadheads, members of Wharf Rats come from all walks of life.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wharf_Rats


Not that I am one; whatever floats your boat is my view.

Update. I found this discussion that attempts to explain what it is about the Dead that inspires so much devotion.

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/sho ... p?t=563189
What was it about them that made the hippies/potheads/insert label such devoted fans that they (many/some) saw hundreds of their shows per year? There are other bands that inspire loyalty, with fans who travel hours and hundreds of miles to see multiple concerts, but few in such an almost mythic dose (Phish seems to come closest since the Dead). What separated them from the pack along this particular point?

Their songs (so far as I know) didn't explicity pander to the drug set (in terms of lyrics, at least not any more than other bands -- they weren't the folk-rock version of Cheech and Chong, in other words), and although they were a jam style band, they weren't the only ones. A lot of jazz consists of jamming (as well as rock during the 60s and 70s), and while it can be argued the jazz musicians were notorious drug users, you never hear about Birdheads (in reference to Charlie Parker-I know he died in the mid-50s, but he's just an example).

So was it mainly a relaxed, intimate style, a festival with 5 or 30,000 of our closest friends, a jam session sort of atmosphere at their concerts? A kind of, "hey man, chill out, smoke a doobie, and get into the music and let it flow" sort of thing? I know they allowed (encouraged?) fans to record their concerts, but was there a particular reason they inspired an almost fanatical devotion (no "almost" about it, but otherwise, the reference wouldn't work)?
I've been to maybe a dozen or so Dead shows. I'm not sure if you'd call me a Deadhead; I didn't follow them around the country but I always tried to go see them when they were in the area. Your description isn't that far off from many people's experiences....except that there are in fact many people there NOT taking any drugs or even drinking. I loved the live shows because it was never the same show twice, unlike a lot of other bands who play the same damn set list every show. There was always a lot of dancing, too, which doesn't happen at a lot of other concerts. It was usually like one really big party, at which many people are drinking or getting high, but a lot of other people were just listening to the music or dancing. If I were going to follow a band around the country, it would have been them. I can't imagine doing that with any other band, but the experience at each show was always unique, which can't be said for many other bands.
Each show is different. Not only are the set lists different but the way they play the songs can be different too. Their jams are improvisational. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. When they were on, they were the best rock band ever.
There was really only one consistent aspect--the music.

Drugs? Plentiful and fun, sure, but there were vast numbers of non-users. There was even a large AA-like group (the Wharf Rats) that you could count on finding at every show. Not that for many folks the allure of drugs wasn't there, but to say that was a prime motivator in going to shows is hopelessly naive. Pot could be easily found outside of shows, and usually cheaper too. Saying it was about the drugs is the same as saying that people like NASCAR or baseball for the beer. Yeah, it's an element to many, but not the driving (heh) factor.

Tribe? Yeah, sure. Hitting a show and not making it inside (Cash for your extras! Need a miracle!) was a letdown, but there was (almost) always a great time to be had nonetheless. Did I enjoy seeing familiar faces on the road? Sure. Icons that are sorely missed (anyone remember the Ryder disco truck?), but that's an element that made going to shows a lot of fun and comfort, not what going to shows was all about. Do fanatical Packer-Backers go to their games every week because they love tailgating and get to know other season ticket holders? Or do they love watching football and game-day festivities are part of the fun?

It's the music. Underneath it all, for most Heads I've know, it's the music. Outside of shows, back before the net opened easy access, people went out of their way to trade and collect (legal) concert recordings. Collections with hundreds of hours weren't uncommon--the music was legally and free for the trade, all it really cost was a blank cassette and time. And they weren't collecting for the sake of collecting -- they were collecting to listen. Hearing the elegant flight from one song to another, dissecting the musical conversation during a jam that landed in a song, debating whether or not Donna was a good addition, whether '72 or '77 was the better era, what this or that song meant, and so on. Conversations and interactions outside of shows was all about the music. Yeah, there were exceptions, and yeah, there were a lot of great non-musical things (veggie burritos and grilled cheeses just aren't the same), but the dominant factor is the music.
Last edited by John2 on Wed Aug 30, 2017 3:18 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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John2
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Re: Grateful Dead

Post by John2 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:08 pm

Rich wrote:
I would not be surprised if one day, Jerry Garcia is transformed into a Jesus character.
I don't see him that way, but I suppose some people do. I cited an article earlier that referred to "Jews for Jerry," and here's another article that discusses the Dead in the context of Judaism.
...for secular Jews open to spiritual pursuit but uninterested in strict religious observance, the Dead may have provided a conduit for the sort of spiritual expression that they felt was lacking elsewhere.

“The Grateful Dead is a good example of people searching for the other, whatever that means, in terms of spirituality – trying to find something that goes beyond their own identity, beyond themselves,” argues Rob Weiner, editor of Perspectives on the Grateful Dead, a compendium of scholarly writings on the band. “It’s an important way to help them live their lives in a moral and reasonable way” ...

“Deadheads felt like outcasts in America, yet we were outcasts who built a very strong and vital and joyful community,” observes Steve Silberman, a writer who earned gold records for co-producing the So Many Roads (1965-1995) box set and penning liner notes for re-releases of Workingman’s Dead and Europe ‘72. “There’s a wink-wink understanding that we’re always in the same tribe. It’s a feeling of being both outcast and deeply inside. You’re deeply inside something that the uninitiated do not understand. It gave you a place to be special in a world in which you were told that you were less than ordinary.”

The propensity of serious Deadheads to knowledgably debate every chapter and verse of the band’s live oeuvre – easily summoning dates, statistics and other minutiae with lawyerly acumen – has been likened to the Jewish tradition of Talmudic disputation in which long passages of theological analysis detail the unresolved arguments among rabbis over the fine points of Hebraic law ...

There’s also the matter of a Grateful Dead show as a sacred space – independent from the profane world – where spiritual expression is possible through music, dance, and fellowship with a like-minded community ...

“Shows were very much like a secular Sabbath,” says Silberman. “[The Grateful Dead] were open to discovering [the sacred] every night, in the next set or the next song or the next transition. The possibility of the sacred being revealed was always there, but it was also never certain. You could have two shows that were relatively lame. But, just to be in the room when the sacred might be revealed, in these exploratory observations…” He trails off for a moment, as if trying to describe the ineffable. Perhaps he is.

https://www.relix.com/articles/detail/s ... -for-jerry
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arnoldo
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Re: Grateful Dead

Post by arnoldo » Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:03 pm


John2
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Re: Grateful Dead

Post by John2 » Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:49 am

Just having a nice day off here. Thanks for the above link, arnoldo. I'm not giving up on 1977. I'm really enjoying this show below (6/8) from the night before another show I linked to earlier. What a difference one night can make. And I have to admit that they do sound very strong that year.

https://archive.org/details/gd1977-06-0 ... d1t09.flac

Update. This is the best sounding recording of a show I've ever heard, period, it is converting me to 1977 for real, I think it is by far the best played show I've heard from 1977, and I'm tempted to call it the best show period. I'm loving it anyway, on another nice day off.

Update 2. I've been listening to this show exclusively for the last two weeks, and while I wouldn't call it mind blowing it's very comfortable and also has my new favorite versions of Jack-A-Roe, Lazy Lightning/Supplication, Bertha, Good Lovin', Estimated Prophet and Wharf Rat, so that's cool.

Update 3. Out of curiosity I thought I'd check to see what other Dead Heads think about the sound quality of this show and the entire June Winterland run seems to be universally praised, and this review from Amazon ranks 6/8/77 as the best of 1977.
1977 is one of my favorite years for the Dead, and with the recent purchase of "Winterland June 1977: The Complete Recordings" I asked myself, what of the '77 commercial material is best in terms of sound quality? I already know which shows I enjoy based on performance, setlist and energy, but I really wanted to know which shows have the best sound and balance (instruments and vocals).

The only way I could trick myself into not being biased is make up some mixed CDs of random songs in shuffled order from all the shows, then listen to them independently and give each song its own rating. This is of course subjective as any other review you're going to find, and since my focus was primarily sound quality it is directly related to the quality of my home stereo (which is pretty decent). Just to keep things fair I also threw in one of my favorite bootlegs and an import CD.

Below you will find the results of my little test, ranked from best sound quality (#1) to worst (#15):

01) 06/08/77 - "Winterland June 1977: The Complete Recordings": Winterland Arena, San Francisco, CA
02) 06/07/77 - "Winterland June 1977: The Complete Recordings": Winterland Arena, San Francisco, CA
03) 05/12/77 - "Winterland June 1977: Bonus Cuts": Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL
04) 06/09/77 - "Winterland June 1977: The Complete Recordings": Winterland Arena, San Francisco, CA
05) 04/30/77 - "Grateful Dead Download Series, Vol. 1": Palladium, New York City, NY
06) 11/05/77 - Dick's Picks, Vol. 34: Community War Memorial, Rochester, NY
07) 05/22/77 - Dick's Picks, Vol. 3: Sportatorium, Pembroke Pines, FL
08) 05/28/77 - "To Terrapin: Hartford '77": Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT
09) 05/07/77 - SBD Bootleg: Boston Garden, Boston, MA
10) 05/19/77 - Dick's Picks, Vol. 29: Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA
11) 10/29/77 - "Play Dead" Import CD: Evans Field House, DeKalb, IL
12) 05/21/77 - Dick's Picks, Vol. 29: Lakeland Civic Center Arena, Lakeland, FL
13) 10/11-16/77 - Road Trips Vol. 1 No. 2: Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana
14) 09/03/77 - Dick's Picks, Vol. 15: Raceway Park, Englishtown, NJ
15) 12/29/77 - Dick's Picks, Vol. 10: Winterland Arena, San Francisco, CA
Last edited by John2 on Thu Oct 19, 2017 3:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Grateful Dead

Post by arnoldo » Sun May 28, 2017 12:08 am

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Theo Bottorff
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Re: Grateful Dead

Post by Theo Bottorff » Mon May 29, 2017 4:00 am

Thay is a great video. I always forget about "The Wolf". Epic guitar. Everyone is near flawless. That is the best version I've ever heard!

John2
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Re: Grateful Dead

Post by John2 » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:53 am

I'm still exploring 1977 and am finally getting around to what is regarded as a "holy trilogy" of shows they did in May (5/7, 5/8 and 5/9). 5/8, for example, is generally regarded as being their "best show ever," but I'm still not "hearing" it. While I agree that it has a stand out Fire on the Mountain, it's not one of my favorite songs, and none of these shows (in any recording of them on the archive) has the same sound quality as the June shows I've linked to above, and none of them are "grabbing" me yet as far as their overall "feel" goes. But I'm trying. And I find that I like 5/9 the most so far out of the three (but still not as much as the June shows).

And it looks like this blogger (who I usually don't agree with but respect) feels the same way.
Immediately after what would later become arguably their most famous show of all time, the Grateful Dead just rolled right along. On the very next night they were simply playing the next stop on the Spring 77 tour in Buffalo, New York. For them, the events of the previous night were very likely to have passed relatively unnoticed. It was just what happened yesterday. A good show, no doubt. But the earth didn't shift on its axis. That said, when you go back and review the musical events of that May 1977 tour, you can appreciate that the band had set its own bar pretty high in early 77 and was coasting completely in the zone at this time ... It's as if the massive energy of the previous night's second set needed further release. It finds it in spades here.

http://www.deadlistening.com/2010/03/19 ... lo-ny.html
For me the stand out in 5/9 so far is the Other One (which seems apt given the above statements, I suppose), and that Cassidy is fantastic. Otherwise I'm still struggling to "hear" it.

https://archive.org/details/gd1977-05-0 ... s2t05.flac

Update. That blogger above also reviews 5/8 and he makes an interesting comment about the idea of there being a "best show ever":
It’s like trying to definitively answer an unanswerable question of existence. Grateful Dead tape collectors would not spend hours, days, and years debating which show/run/year was the best ever if there was actually an answer staring us in the face. There is no answer. But, you gotta hand it to 5/8/77; it brought a whole slew of neophytes into the debate, sparking an obsessive love for the music of the Grateful Dead. Barton Hall, Cornell College, Ithaca, NY 1977 was in the right place at the right time.

http://www.deadlistening.com/2008/10/19 ... rsity.html
And I found a better recording of 5/7 (I could barely hear the other soundboards) and so far it has a nice Jack Straw and Peggy-O, but .... I'm starting to feel like a heretic for not liking these "holy" shows (and 1977) as much as other people seem to, but oh, well.

https://archive.org/details/gd1977-05-0 ... s1t06.flac

And right off the bat this one from 5/5 is sounding (and feeling) better to me (and it too has a nice Peggy-O) so I'm going to put it here so I can explore it more from here (and it's included in the commercially released box set of 5/7, 5/8 and 5/9).

https://archive.org/details/gd1977-05-0 ... d1t02.flac

For now though I would still pick that June 8th show as the best of 1977.

Update 2. Here is an interesting article that previews the box set I mentioned (which was released last month). And I'm still giving these shows a fair shot.
The Grateful Dead played more than 2,000 concerts, but none continues to spark interest and provoke discussion quite like the band’s performance at Cornell University’s Barton Hall on May 8, 1977. It is one of the most collected, traded, and debated concerts by any band ever, has topped numerous fan polls through the years, and was a favorite of the group’s longtime archivist Dick Latvala, who stated: “Enough can’t be said about this superb show.” Even Uncle Sam got into the act in 2011 when the recording was “deemed so important to the history and culture of the United States” that a copy was added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of that magical show, Dead.net will release MAY 1977: GET SHOWN THE LIGHT, a new 11-disc boxed set that features the commercial debut of the Cornell University show (5/8/77) along with three other previously unreleased concerts: Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum, New Haven, CT (5/5/77), Boston Garden, Boston, MA (5/7/77), and Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, NY (5/9/77). As if that weren’t enough, the source for these recordings is the legendary Betty Boards, which Jeffrey Norman has mastered in HDCD for unrivaled sound quality. The transfers from the master tapes were produced by Plangent Processes, further ensuring that this is the best, most authentic that Cornell (and the other three shows) has ever sounded.
 
“These four concerts have been the holy grail of wish-list releases both externally and internally for a long, long time,” says David Lemieux, Grateful Dead archivist and the set’s producer. “ During the 18+ years I’ve worked with the Grateful Dead, no concert has garnered as much attention and as many requests for release as Cornell, with the New Haven, Boston, and Buffalo shows following very closely behind. For those who didn’t know the history of these master tapes and about their absence from the band’s vault, and for those who have, like us, lamented this hole in the collection, we join with you in celebrating what might be, minute-for-minute, song-for-song, the most high quality Grateful Dead release ever produced.”

http://media.rhino.com/press-release/ma ... hown-light
Update 3. For the sake of symmetry I'm going to put up what I think is the best sounding recording of 5/8 available on the archive, but even this one doesn't sound very good to me. Even Charlie Miller's versions (which I usually like) are based on audience recordings (if well-regarded ones) and thus are off putting for me. And I'm having the same issues I've always had about the performance of this show, but I'm going to pretend I've never heard it before and give it a fresh listen in the context of the shows above that surround it. So here it is, the "holy of holies," according to many (but still not me).

https://archive.org/details/gd1977-05-0 ... eok.flac16

Update 4. Regarding the 5/9 show, after further listening I now also like that Mexicali Blues, Music Never Stopped, Big River and Ship of Fools. And while it is by no means my favorite version (as it is to some), the opening medley of Help on the Way, Slipknot and Franklin's Tower is not shabby either. So all in all I feel that this is a "good show" and one that I would want in my collection (if I still had one).

And while I'm still not excited about 5/8 (at least not as much as everyone else), I do also like that Scarlet Begonias (I had the part of the solo that starts around 3:40 in my head today and was wondering which show it was from and was pleasantly surprised to find it is this version) and I agree that it has a good version of my all time favorite Grateful Dead song (at least lyrically), Brown Eyed Women (voted number one at headyversion.com), and I think it is better than the version on 5/9, so that's progress, I guess.

Update 5 (6/25/17). You know, I could say I love 5/8 now just for that Scarlet Begonias, which I am now totally on board with, and I think it's worth singling it out here (song starts at 1:30).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFt7DobqbfI
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arnoldo
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Dead & Company: Live from Atlanta, GA 6/13/2017 Set I

Post by arnoldo » Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:16 pm


starts @ 12:00 min

John2
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Re: Grateful Dead

Post by John2 » Wed Jun 14, 2017 3:21 pm

Thanks again, arnoldo. I was wondering what that configuration sounded like.

And I'm tired of feeling like a "heretic" over 1977, so here is a song from a late-era show that I agree with everyone else is the "best" version (and which seems suitable considering my present situation).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgvVbj_dSUo

http://headyversion.com/song/92/gratefu ... -stranger/
Last edited by John2 on Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:26 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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John2
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Re: Grateful Dead

Post by John2 » Wed Jun 14, 2017 7:40 pm

I found an interesting review of the recent Dead and Company show you linked to, arnoldo.
After incredible shows at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado on Friday and Saturday night, Dead & Company played full steam ahead in Atlanta on Tuesday night at the Lakewood Amphitheatre. It seems as though the Grateful Dead members are having an absolute ball with the contemporary players, as John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti continue to impress the dedicated fan base family show after show ...

By this point, it was obvious to everyone bearing witness (whether in real life or from their couches) that all six of the men playing in this band were practiced, focused, and playing superbly. Dead & Co started as an experiment: a handful of Dead veterans bringing in some fresh faces to attempt to revive some of the brilliance of old. But as they hit their stride during this summer tour, it’s clear that this group has moved beyond being a collection of talented musicians, and has come into their own as a fantastic unit in their own right.

http://liveforlivemusic.com/news/dead-co-atlanta-2017/
Update. I had never heard John Mayer before so that was an interesting way to get introduced to him. And I noticed this curious tidbit from the Dead and Company Wikipedia page.
In 2016, Mayer and Weir expressed strong optimism about the band's future, including the possibility of new studio recordings. Mayer said he "will never close the door on Dead & Company, ever." Weir spoke of a "cosmic, out-of-body vision" he had at the end of the 2015 tour:

"We were playing...and suddenly I was viewing this from about 20 feet behind my head, and I looked over at John from that point of view and it was 20 years later and John was almost fully gray. I looked over at Oteil and his hair was white. I looked over to my left and Jeff's hair was all gray." [Then, looking to where he, Hart and Kreutzmann would be playing,] "it was new guys, younger guys holding forth, doing a great job...playing with fire and aplomb....It changed my whole view of what it is that we're up to. I find myself wondering, 'Well, what are they gonna be saying about this new approach or this honoring of this tradition? What are they gonna be saying about that in 200 or 300 years at the Berklee School of music?' That's the kind of stuff that goes through my head now because this legacy here, there's a chance now that they'll be talking about us in years to come. So I find it incumbent on myself to think in those terms."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_%26_Company
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