• March 23, 2012
    http://www.dead.net/features/blairs-blog/blair-s-golden-road-blog-rainbows-unicorns-and-picky-dead-heads
    Blair’s Golden Road Blog — Rainbows, Unicorns and Picky Dead Heads

    We live in a cynical age. Believe it or not, “rainbows and unicorns” is a term that is used pejoratively online to describe that segment of Grateful Dead fans (and those of the post-Garcia bands) who believe that the Dead were, in a sense, beyond criticism. These folks believe that what the Dead did musically, coupled with the experience of being at shows with other Dead Heads was (is) so profoundly positive that it seems somehow unfair to complain about it in any way. They would really prefer you not say a negative word, thank you.

    I was that guy for many years. From the time I first saw the band in the spring of 1970, through about 1981, I really didn’t have anything bad to say. Were there songs I didn’t like and times I was a little bored? Absolutely! But I can’t recall ever coming away from a Dead show during that period feeling disappointed. I just loved everything about the band and the scene. Going to Dead shows was Magic Time for me. “Rainbows and unicorns” isn’t exactly an apt description of what my Grateful Dead worldview was — I was more “lightning and dragons” — but I felt a kinship with the utopian idealists who believed that the Dead environment could be a paradigm for a New Age, even with the hustlers and hucksters and burnouts and shady types who were always part of the scene.

    And that never changed for me. I never took the Grateful Dead experience for granted. It always remained Magic Time for me — even when the shows became something less than consistently magical the last couple of years. What changed, though, is that sometime in the early ’80s I encountered — and soon became —“ANOTHER PICKY DEADHEAD” (as a bumper sticker of the time said).

    Two things happened in the early ’80s that fostered the rise of the PDH: 1) More and more people went on tour, seeing multiple shows in different cities, along the way becoming more critical about song selection, repeated tunes and such; and 2) Tape collecting exploded, so suddenly fans were making more direct comparisons between, say, the 1980 Dead, and the 1977 or ’69 Dead. Hit four or five or six shows on an ’81 or ’82 tour, and chances are you’d get a few “Lost Sailor-Saints,” “Alabama Getaways” and either “Black Peter,” “Wharf Rat” or “Stella” in the late second set ballad slot. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, of course! The band still mixed up their sets more than any other band on the road (in fact no group was even close in those days), and the fact is, look at almost any earlier era of Dead music — when very few folks toured — and you’d find much more similarity in the song selection from night to night. In ’77, they played “Estimated” at 51 out of 60 shows. In ’71, they played “Casey Jones” and “Sugar Magnolia” almost every night. I didn’t hear anyone complaining about “Row Jimmy” turning up at 61 out of 72 shows in 1973. But by the mid-’80s a significant number of Dead Heads had become jaded.

    In my own case, starting my Dead ’zine The Golden Road is what really pushed me down the path of PDH-dom. Before ’84, I had never cared about what the band was playing night to night on tour, much less attempted analyses of trends in the group’s repertoire. It never occurred to me. I went to shows, I had a great time, I went home a better person! Before 1982, though, I also wasn’t going to between 20 and 30 shows a year, so every concert seemed more special, I suppose. I will say, though, that I never compared whatever version of the Dead I was seeing with earlier incarnations I'd enjoyed. I definitely accepted that they were what they were in that present day, not some pale comparison with the Dead of '72 or '77. Because fundamentally, it still hit me the same way.

    However, by the mid-'80s for me, it became a game of anticipation: “They opened with ‘Scarlet’ two nights ago, so we probably won’t hear that. We’re about due for another ‘Throwing Stones’ > ‘Not Fade Away’ closer, but I’d rather hear ‘Sugar Mag.’ I can’t believe Bob chose ‘Looks Like Rain’ instead of ‘Playing.’” It wasn’t pretty, people. I’m not proud of thinking those thoughts. (And admit it, some of you had those notions, too.) Still, very rare was the show that didn’t get me off, no matter what was played. If I had a moment’s thought of “Gee, ‘Throwing Stones’ again?” it never prevented me from enjoying a well-played version to the fullest. We all have our favorites, but if there’s passion in the effort, I can enjoy pretty much any song, and that continues to be true for me.

    The last several years of going to shows definitely tested my generally positive outlook. There were a few “new” songs I thought were actually bad (no names here), and then there was the whole matter of Jerry’s decline, which had to have been apparent even to the extreme “rainbows and unicorns” types. There were shows that left me … disturbed. And yet, to the bitter end I was upbeat about the next tour and the renaissance I was sure was coming around the bend. I guess I couldn’t see the dark clouds through my own rainbow glasses.

    Since Jerry’s death, I have moved back toward the “rainbows and unicorns” camp when it comes to the post-GD groups. In the process, I’ve been subjected to the slings of arrows of the new breed of PDH—hyper-critical Internet critics for whom nothing short of an appearance by Mr. Garcia himself could quell the relentless and at times disturbingly personal sniping at the surviving band members and their efforts. The level of vitriol in their commentary is shocking. The Internet is a take-no-prisoners war zone.

    But I feel that Phil, Bob, Mickey and Bill have admirably dedicated themselves to thoroughly exploring the Grateful Dead’s incredible repertoire and taking the Dead approach to playing in many new and unexpected directions with an amazing variety of players. At the same time, they’ve made a conscious attempt to keep the Dead Head community spirit alive, for veterans like me and for the young ’uns coming up. And that’s why I’m no longer jaded. Just grateful.

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We live in a cynical age. Believe it or not, “rainbows and unicorns” is a term that is used pejoratively online to describe that segment of Grateful Dead fans (and those of the post-Garcia bands) who believe that the Dead were, in a sense, beyond criticism. These folks believe that what the Dead did musically, coupled with the experience of being at shows with other Dead Heads was (is) so profoundly positive that it seems somehow unfair to complain about it in any way. They would really prefer you not say a negative word, thank you.

I was that guy for many years. From the time I first saw the band in the spring of 1970, through about 1981, I really didn’t have anything bad to say. Were there songs I didn’t like and times I was a little bored? Absolutely! But I can’t recall ever coming away from a Dead show during that period feeling disappointed. I just loved everything about the band and the scene. Going to Dead shows was Magic Time for me. “Rainbows and unicorns” isn’t exactly an apt description of what my Grateful Dead worldview was — I was more “lightning and dragons” — but I felt a kinship with the utopian idealists who believed that the Dead environment could be a paradigm for a New Age, even with the hustlers and hucksters and burnouts and shady types who were always part of the scene.

And that never changed for me. I never took the Grateful Dead experience for granted. It always remained Magic Time for me — even when the shows became something less than consistently magical the last couple of years. What changed, though, is that sometime in the early ’80s I encountered — and soon became —“ANOTHER PICKY DEADHEAD” (as a bumper sticker of the time said).

Two things happened in the early ’80s that fostered the rise of the PDH: 1) More and more people went on tour, seeing multiple shows in different cities, along the way becoming more critical about song selection, repeated tunes and such; and 2) Tape collecting exploded, so suddenly fans were making more direct comparisons between, say, the 1980 Dead, and the 1977 or ’69 Dead. Hit four or five or six shows on an ’81 or ’82 tour, and chances are you’d get a few “Lost Sailor-Saints,” “Alabama Getaways” and either “Black Peter,” “Wharf Rat” or “Stella” in the late second set ballad slot. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, of course! The band still mixed up their sets more than any other band on the road (in fact no group was even close in those days), and the fact is, look at almost any earlier era of Dead music — when very few folks toured — and you’d find much more similarity in the song selection from night to night. In ’77, they played “Estimated” at 51 out of 60 shows. In ’71, they played “Casey Jones” and “Sugar Magnolia” almost every night. I didn’t hear anyone complaining about “Row Jimmy” turning up at 61 out of 72 shows in 1973. But by the mid-’80s a significant number of Dead Heads had become jaded.

In my own case, starting my Dead ’zine The Golden Road is what really pushed me down the path of PDH-dom. Before ’84, I had never cared about what the band was playing night to night on tour, much less attempted analyses of trends in the group’s repertoire. It never occurred to me. I went to shows, I had a great time, I went home a better person! Before 1982, though, I also wasn’t going to between 20 and 30 shows a year, so every concert seemed more special, I suppose. I will say, though, that I never compared whatever version of the Dead I was seeing with earlier incarnations I'd enjoyed. I definitely accepted that they were what they were in that present day, not some pale comparison with the Dead of '72 or '77. Because fundamentally, it still hit me the same way.

However, by the mid-'80s for me, it became a game of anticipation: “They opened with ‘Scarlet’ two nights ago, so we probably won’t hear that. We’re about due for another ‘Throwing Stones’ > ‘Not Fade Away’ closer, but I’d rather hear ‘Sugar Mag.’ I can’t believe Bob chose ‘Looks Like Rain’ instead of ‘Playing.’” It wasn’t pretty, people. I’m not proud of thinking those thoughts. (And admit it, some of you had those notions, too.) Still, very rare was the show that didn’t get me off, no matter what was played. If I had a moment’s thought of “Gee, ‘Throwing Stones’ again?” it never prevented me from enjoying a well-played version to the fullest. We all have our favorites, but if there’s passion in the effort, I can enjoy pretty much any song, and that continues to be true for me.

The last several years of going to shows definitely tested my generally positive outlook. There were a few “new” songs I thought were actually bad (no names here), and then there was the whole matter of Jerry’s decline, which had to have been apparent even to the extreme “rainbows and unicorns” types. There were shows that left me … disturbed. And yet, to the bitter end I was upbeat about the next tour and the renaissance I was sure was coming around the bend. I guess I couldn’t see the dark clouds through my own rainbow glasses.

Since Jerry’s death, I have moved back toward the “rainbows and unicorns” camp when it comes to the post-GD groups. In the process, I’ve been subjected to the slings of arrows of the new breed of PDH—hyper-critical Internet critics for whom nothing short of an appearance by Mr. Garcia himself could quell the relentless and at times disturbingly personal sniping at the surviving band members and their efforts. The level of vitriol in their commentary is shocking. The Internet is a take-no-prisoners war zone.

But I feel that Phil, Bob, Mickey and Bill have admirably dedicated themselves to thoroughly exploring the Grateful Dead’s incredible repertoire and taking the Dead approach to playing in many new and unexpected directions with an amazing variety of players. At the same time, they’ve made a conscious attempt to keep the Dead Head community spirit alive, for veterans like me and for the young ’uns coming up. And that’s why I’m no longer jaded. Just grateful.

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We live in a cynical age. Believe it or not, “rainbows and unicorns” is a term that is used pejoratively online to describe that segment of Grateful Dead fans (and those of the post-Garcia bands) who believe that the Dead were, in a sense, beyond criticism. These folks believe that what the Dead did musically, coupled with the experience of being at shows with other Dead Heads was (is) so profoundly positive that it seems somehow unfair to complain about it in any way. They would really prefer you not say a negative word, thank you.

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don't kid yourself, if Jerry came back from the grave, they'd be complaining about him, too.
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So true. There are so many people who love this band that do A LOT of complaining! They complain about the picks for both weekly streams(which happen to be FREE!), or which show(s) will be released next. I know that they had a lot of good years and some very forgetable shows, but the shows that they put on were still better than many other bands. I, personally, enjoy listening to just about everything that gets released or streamed, and will buy almost everything that they release from the vault because it is all really good music. Yes there were some shows/years that are better than others, but I'd still rather hear a bad Grateful Dead show than listen to most radio stations for 5 minutes.
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Mary, that is hilarious! And yes, I probably would! "He's too decomposed to pull off the Supplication jam! Come ON Jerry!" Great, Mary, thanks.
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Yes, Blair, I was and, at times, still catch myself being a slightly picky Dead Head. It wasn't always that way. But once I started doing full tours, it became easier to be "critical," though in some ways, that was also part of the fun. It was rare that I ever asked myself why I was "on tour." If I found I was starting to get a little bored, along would come a show that blew my socks off and I'd be reminded "Right! THAT'S why I'm here!" And yes, even the average shows were more fun than words can tell. And the friends and the road trips, the adventures, the unknown possibilities, the inner and outer journeys... Now that Jerry's gone and we can look at the Grateful Dead in the context of a 30 year span, I certainly have the eras I love and the ones that thrill me less. But I'm always discovering a tour I hadn't explored deeply enough in the past that now blows my mind. Or I rediscover that tour or show I'd forgotten how much I love. It's been a long, wonderful journey and time allows us perspective. But I'm still the guy who will simultaneously feel glad to see another video release of the Grateful Dead and know without question that I'll buy it, and at the same time mourn that it's another show from 1989 and not one of the many unreleased videos from the '70's. I can't help it. No matter how much better Jerry got for a short period in the late '80's, he and the band never (IMHO) found the tightness and solidity of those first 15 years. But that doesn't mean I won't enjoy those later releases. However, some pickiness still remains. I like to think of them more as "preferences" now :) But even if not every release or post Jerry show is geared toward my personal preference, I still relish the experience. I love Furthur. Can't wait to see them again. As many times as possible, thank you. No, Kadlecik isn't Jerry and Furthur isn't the Dead, but what they do is so damn good that I am one happy puppy to be here to enjoy, celebrate and rave about it. And I will continue to do so, whether it's seeing Furthur or 7 Walkers or The Mickey Hart Band or purchasing a later-Dead release. The world of the Grateful Dead is still a grand place, even when it doesn't revolve around my personal preferences.
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I love this article...Perhaps a distinction should be made between complaining, and expressing an opinion, or offering a suggestion. Fine line maybe, it seems the difference is found within attitude and intention. I try to keep things as simple as possible. I'm still alive (give me five), my ears are healthy- I can listen to my heart's content. Grateful indeed.
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I'm with you on the plethora of '89-'90 video, but really, that's when they were actually shooting stuff regularly with multiple cameras. (And at least they were playing really well in that period). The '70s videos you speak of are mostly the simple black and white Winterland videos that BGP routinely made, but they exist in a murky legal area and are not in the GD vault, I gather. With any luck those will get sorted out one of these days, as will Copenhagen and Bremen '72, which exist and certainly SHOULD come out, sooner than later, one would hope...
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Glad you opened up this can of worms. I think they were listening to the heads comments 82-84 because 85 was a year when they really mixed it up and brought new life to their sets. I know I really appreciated this even though I didn't consider myself in the picky deadhead camp. We all know the scene changed for the worse in 1987. Unless, of course, you were there for the vending. Then it became very profitable and the capitalist mentality took over. To the point where the band got jealous and had their lawyers chase people around the parking lot! What a strange and twisted scene that must have been if you were one of those people on tour with 5,000 Stealie tie-dies in your rented Ryder truck... (I was the guy with 75, mostly the wrong sizes, made lovingly, hitching around with my backpack) I have to say that by 88 I became one of the jaded ones, only to have the whole thing turned around for me 89-91. Then it was off the bus for me except for a couple of shows that were the final nails in the Dead coffin in 93. I find it hard to believe that people could not see the scene for what it had become in 93 -- A forced death march. I kind of feel like the hard-core heads were kind of like those frogs in the beakers with the Bunsen burner underneath them, the one that heats up the water slowly till they are boiling alive. Many people aren't going top like that analogy but you have to be honest with yourself and take a long hard look at just what it meant to be on tour 93-95. If you were all "Unicorn & Rainbows" then you just weren't paying attention to Jerry or the people around you. As far as criticizing the remaining members of the band for appropriating their legacy? Absurd! Bob & Phil, Micky & Billy are to be congratulated 100% for their dedication to being hard core traveling minstrels. More power to them! If it was "All Jerry, All the time" for you, then you were (and still are) missing the point.
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I'm an over 60 year old dead head. I think there is a lot of stuff out there in today's america to be really cynical about but for me its not the Dead. I think its great that the surviving members are carrying on doing really creative things. It is inspiring to me and I'm not going to be picky about any of it or over analyze it-just enjoy it. I saw Phil and Friends several times when they were touring and Phil's enthusiasm and energy were palpable. I saw Mickey's Global Drum Project in a small theatre several years ago-I thought that it was absolutely tremendous what he was doing. There were a lot of youngsters and students in that audience(UCONN) and I'm sure they were getting a lesson thaught to them about the validity of the real music vision expoused by our favorite musicians. Furthur has kept the torch burning for this music and lifestyle-and made new Dead Heads along the way I'm sure. I've never really succumbed to the picky philosophy in the past(even though I was alarmed by Jerry's decline and felt sorry that it was happening) and will not fall into it now. PS-Let's not forget the dynamism Hunter is displaying in his song-writing-another topic for this Blog? Blair-check out his songs on the new NRPS. For this 60 something-these guys are inspirational still.
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I Jumped on the bus in 84 with an Outdoor SPAC in NY followed by Augusta, Me and to this day I've never regretting taking my seat and enjoying the ride. They happened to play a Baby Blue encore after a Satisfaction. I remember hearing people BMCing (bitch, moan & complain) about Baby blue and not understanding why. My particular group in New Hampshire that I hung out with despised Day Job & Hell in Bucket and I couldn't figure out why. There were some others also. After my introduction to archive.org & an iphone I started to finally collect all the shows I could remember attending. 33-40 best guess. Of those shows I only saw Three Day job and a Few of Baby blues. This is my theory, so many shows were being circulated and everyone had one that had these different songs they "didn't Like" that they just think they saw this song to many times. I got that way with Me & My Uncle>Mexically but was taught a lesson very early in my career a head. I was BMCing about the song selection from a recent show we went to and the friend I was with said "did you actually listen to it" and put on the tape and proceeded to hear it for the first time. I had closed my mind when they played it because of an opinion instead of listening to the music. Another observation was that because they mixed up a lot of the same songs in the 80's that you never knew when the fire breathing dragon was going to be released on a particular song that night. I will never forget a Providence RI show that opened with Hell in a Bucket>Sugaree and I was showing my appreciation for a Damn good rockin opener to a show and the guys behind me were jading me because "it's a f-ing bucket again". I went to my first DSO show in Charlotte a few weeks ago and and I think I found a lot of those unicorns. I thought it was a great show with some good peaks. During intermission I made the mistake of saying how great Furthur was to a small group and was amazed at the reaction. Did not understand nor will I try. I listen to Satellite radio with the Grateful Dead channel almost every free second I have and I have been exposed to a lot of era's of history I have shunned away from because of my affinity to Pigpen (Live Dead was my intro to that era) & the 80's which I attended and I thank them for my Grateful education.
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when it comes to being at a show, so many things got factored in... where you sat, who was by you, what you ate, the weather, etc... funny you mentioned spac 84. my first tour. that was MY show of the tour. i hung on every note. during the slow part of wharf rat, i thought i was in church. i loved the rain that night. one of my best trips ever. everyone else loved the 2nd night of merriweather. look at the set list! i liked it too, but spac was mine. now, i've never listened to either on tape. summer 85 was hershey park. i still listen to my 2nd set tape, and though i own almost every cd the dead have put out, i'll put 85 hershey up against anything. my fav music never stopped, and i listen the the normal 78 all the time. i'm not right or wrong, i'm me. and as for the 'dark' scene in the late years, i was at the st louis shows, just after deer creek and before chi-town, and was chatting with a lond time tour head who said he had to get out, the scene was so dark. kids strung out, on tour, knowing nothing about the band. it sounded to me how people described the beauty of the haight, then 69 hit, and the scene was over run with bad stuff. as for the shows, it was at times painful to hear jerry try to keep up with unbroken chain, but even still, like in big boss man, he could hit something that warmed your heart like no one else on earth could do. so while the pre 74 stuff might have bigger longer tighter stuff in them, the 80+ years still had the ingredients to make gold. and for me, even if those moments were less, they were every bit as powerful...
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I seem to have been spot on this time since writing on the subject with friends on Facebook the last two days. I have explained Grateful Dead may be my absolute favourite band of all time but I still don't love them unconditionally. They have their flaws and as I get older och get to listen to more shows I also become more and more critical. Also reading about how Jerry went downhill for all those years before he finally left us, makes me feel less charmed. Of course I'm grateful for all those archival recordings being released on records but I do not purchase them all. Some because I have had them on tapes for many years and have listened to them many times in the past and some because I might think they're not as good as I would like them to be. Yesterday I made the parable to avantgarde jazz musicians who play with their elbows. If you have heard ten musicians play like that it doesn't sound as adventuroes when listening to another ten like them. But every now and then somebody might be ON doing something done many times before, and that's how I feel about the Dead as well - even in the later years as Garcia was trading off. To tell you the truth - I havent listened through the Complete Europe '72 box set yet. Actually I have only listened to the first three shows so far because I don't feel any rush. Also I haven't purchased more than seven volumes of Dick's Picks and even though I'm a subscriber to Spotify where they all can be listened to (as well as the downloads from a a few years back), I haven't done that either. Neither have I been taken the opportunity to listen to a multiple shows through Internet Archives. It doesn't mean I'm not a Dead Head anymore - it means I have become picky. ;-) Now being a record collector I would very much like to own everything released by the Dead or almost everything that is. And I hope I live long enough to being able to listen to everything released at least once but then on the other hand, I will not be dissappointed if I never get to hear it all. Micke Östlund, Växjö, Sweden
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It may seem off-topic but I will pass on a link to an episode of a Swedish TV program, broadcast this week. Four minutes into the program it features almost 8 minutes on the Dead. The series is called The Songs That Changed The Music and the reason to why they covered the Dead in this program is because the series gets to San Francisco. The topic is Viola Lee Blues - a short song getting longer in the hands of the Dead. They also cover the Dead as an example of a band with a prominent bass player, arguing that putting the bass more forward in the mix is something the San Francisco bands was first in doing. Bobby is interviewed and also take play some guitar while explaining himself. http://urplay.se/166704 (Hope it's viewable for all, if not all together understandable.) Micke Östlund Växjö, Sweden
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> Grateful Dead may be my absolute favourite band of all time but I still don't love them unconditionally deadmike, your comment sums up my take on this discussion pretty well. It's going on 20 years since the GD stopped making new music and yet, GD music is still mostly what I listen to, but that doesn't mean I'm not critical. While the GD were still touring, I was another Picky Deadhead at times; there were so many classics that I hadn't heard performed (like St. Stephen, until Hartford 1983, or Dark Star, until 1991 at Soldier Field), so yeah, regularly performed songs like Day Job and Hell in a Bucket got kicked around a bit for not being what I wanted the band to play. Quite simply, I figured that I had invested heavily in the GD, like those nights when the band was struggling to achieve lift-off and my dosed mind became convinced that if I danced harder, the music would get better, which it sometimes did, and thus I had some say in what the band was playing, or not playing. On the matter of rainbows and unicorns, I'll add that my personal peeve was those damn dancing bears. They looked good on the back cover of Bear's Choice, but in just about every other application since, I've found them to be wishful, rather than experienced. I prefer a bone white skull over a cartoon bear; strip away the skin and what's left is what we all share in common.
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The Dancing Bears are borderline annoying a lot of the time, and I think most of the band's classic iconography is overused and has been corporatized. I still love the Skull & Roses best...
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I was never able to do a full tour (money, family, etc.) but since I lived in a small town in eastern Pa. I was able to take advantage of being at a "hub" where I (we) could travel to Philly, New York, Jersey, Boston, D.C. etc. and still get back home. So I was able to catch several shows within a tour & I remember furiously writing down the set list on the back of my ticket stub after a performance, while the high of the show was still in force. I wanted to be able to keep track what I'd seen because I thought what I'd seen was "important". The Grateful Dead had changed my perceptions about so many things that, in those days, I wanted my experiences to be embedded in my mind forever. I was definately keeping track of songs, hoping to catch something new & griping about "not another Round & Round closer". But I was snapped out of myself by a 3 night run at MSG in the late 70's/early 80's. The first night I was seated fairly close and the put on a fantastic set which included one of my all time favorites- China Cat/Rider. I thought it had been performed flawlessly & I left that show really pumped. Flash to the third night. I was able to scalp a seat but it was way at the back of the Garden near the top. Bummer you say- au contraire mon fraire. That show blew the other two away and the kicker was another China/Rider done with more energy & power than I'd ever seen- and I thought I'd just seen that two nights ago! It was then that I realized, It wasn't what they played, but how they played it. After that I never complained about a set list again. Never cared. If I happened to see a mediocre show I reminded myself and anyone I was with, that even a fair show by the Dead was better than almost any other concert experience you could get. Just one more comment about the "scene" in those last few years. I moved to Key West in '85 and geography (and money) kept me from regular check-ins with the band. One of my last shows was in Miami - never a band favorite- and I couldn' believe what had happened to the parking lot. So many people without tickets, just looking for drugs & handouts.It wasn't what I remembered. The show was good, in fact it included one of the most potent "Music Never Stops" I'd ever seen. But while they were playing (never heard before) "Liberty" Jerry almost shouted out the lines: "Liberty!-Freedom!- leave me alone, I'm gonna find my own way home". I tell ya my blood ran cold & I thought to myself- "he's had it- he's going to call it quits". This was soon after the riots & I think there was a fan death on one of the previous tours. Well they didn't quit, but it was already '92 and the end was closer than we all knew.
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Please don't look too closely at my Pic if you can see it but this shirt get more comments than any dye i've ever owned. a spiral pattern of Dancing Bears. What I like most is the average non-head just thinks they're cut. But a head knows.
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Thank you for articulating our unconditional love for the music & culture of the Dead. Each performance, however flawed, is unique & sincere and I am always grateful.
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no dark star @ soldier field 91, i would've remembered that, although it was that summer with the bust out. musta been another show
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ensemble Ive seen involving members of the Deadjust took place in the last couple of hours over at TRI Studios. Superb. And that trumpet.......
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Yeah!!! Wasn't that TRI Weir/National show AMAZING?!!! Great song list, fresh, exciting, intimate... and that trumpet! I'll be writing about it for Dead World Roundup...
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With a lot of Bob's recent efforts, I find myself somewhat distracted to the point of disappointment by a lack of a lead instrument, tempos that are way too slow, or talk singing. Tonight's TRI show with members of The National overcame all of those distractions, even if they were still present. I don't know if it was just the other musicians, but Bob seemed quite comfortable too, and that made a big difference. This group worked so well together that I would gladly see them again. Great stuff!
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> no dark star @ soldier field 91 Here's about 7 minutes worth, although they never quite got to the first verse: archive.org/details/gd1991-06-22.sbd.miller.105541.flac16
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...I agree with Underthevolcano on this & Blair---in later shows (81-last live fer me)-some we under par--but I didnt see them 20 days in a row---hey even your shorts get a little stale...... ya went to have fun & get tuned in to SOMETHING-----so as I say to certain people-like the"newcomers" --ya want some cheese with that whine- or---you'd complain -if ye got hung by a gold rope.....Happy Trails-& Keep on Smilin....Da Roach--ALOHA!
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i'll give ya that one, guess i'm a pdh, cause i'd call that a jam w/ no lyrics
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The latest manifestation of pickiness appears to be about soundboard collections. Now, every time there is a new release a sizeable number complain that the release is not rare enough or that it will not be a sufficient upgrade of the soundboard copy they have already. Some ‘character’ was even calling for David Lemieux to be fired last week because his tapers sections picks were not from deep enough in the vault!! Don’t get me wrong, I have great admiration for Charlie Miller (and others) and the work they do and I collect many of their releases, but should we really expect DL and others to check through ‘what is out there’ every time they plan a new release in order of fill the gaps in our vast collections?
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i guess I was snoozin and loozin-great blog article about Mr. Robert's post GD writing. Pretty soon blair can do a follow-up to cover the prolific Hunter's further efforts if he keeps up this new pace.
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about picky - discriminating, yes. I think if you tallied all the shows that the Dead community believes are worthy and then looked at all the shows they did, you'd come out with something like one every dozen or so. "Steal Your Jazz"
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> i'd call that a jam w/ no lyrics I hear you, legba23, but it's as close as I got to a genuine JG black hole excursion (the jam crossed the event horizon, I'd say), so I call it a Dark Star and deadlists.com seems to think so too. Blair, you write that "by the mid-'80s for me, it became a game of anticipation" and I can definitely relate to that, and especially when I think back to Hartford in the fall of 1983. The boys had played St. Stephen at MSG earlier in the week, and by the Friday night show in Hartford, I remember that the anticipation for a repeat was fairly intense. When DP6 came out years later, I was pretty much blown away by the Scarlet > Fire that opened the second set on Friday, but my memories of the weekend don't include it. I remember waiting for Stephen, and the moment it finally arrived, but everything else? I'll just say that I'm grateful for the tapers.
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...for "St. Stephen" was pervasive at the 10/30-31/83 shows at the Marin Civic. We got the "St. Stephen" on Halloween--the result, we heard later, of Rock Scully begging and browbeating Jerry to play it--and it wasn't that hot, frankly. I wasn't surprised they didn't play it again. Jerry did not look like he was into it particularly. Although he looked better on that than he did on the encore, "Revolution," another tune we were so hot to hear on the West Coast. I don't know what happened backstage between the last song of the set and the encore, but Jerry came out onstage looking grey-green, never a good sign. I'm pretty sure I didn't hallucinate that. I was sitting real close that night...
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Blair i consider you a pro at this as you have seen many more shows than i ever did but:I've had that tape from that halloween show for years and actually resurrected it twice before I found archive.org have considered it one of the best second sets. The jam starting with Drums and special guest through space and then the build up into St. Stephens is really fine Grateful Dead. The Help>slip Frank opener rocks and the energy just continues through St. Stephens. I Wasn't there but the tape got me through some hard times in my life where I just needed that escape from an ex-girl and that tape brought me there. I swear at one point I could play the the whole second set in my mind. I did my own personal shoot out of those last three St. Stephens a few years back and formed an opinion. I'd be curious to know if anyone else had
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The buildup to the return of St. Stephen in '83 was unlike anything I had experienced, though we saw it again with better results in '89 with Dark Star. I thought the Garden '83 shows were really good, and the crowd buzz just overtook my senses, it didn't matter how well or how badly St. Stephen came out. It was a whoosh moment. Although I liked it again in Hartford (from the front row), I was so taken with the night before (not front row), that I couldn't respond in kind. The Garden Stephen was the one, right or wrong, in my head. Years later I heard that Latvala was ready to release that Hartford '83 show with St. Stephen, and so my friends and I wrote to Dick and made the case for the first night instead. DIck came back and said that he agreed, the first Hartford show was a scorcher, and he was going with that. (We did the same thing again a few years later, lobbying for New Haven '78 instead of the planned Springfield '78 show. He came back gushing about New Haven...) Over the years I have filed away, in my head, many shows that I attended as truly special and worthy of obsession in terms of chasing a good board, a killer aud, or hounding those special archivists in our lives for release consideration. I think it's mostly all been said, but I think there are some molten gems from '80 to '83 that will astound us. I think Jerry was so red hot for most of '80 and '81 in particular, I expect there will be major treats ahead from those years.
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...you've got me intrigued. I'll go back and listen to that "St. Stephen" from 10/31/83, which I have not heard in years. Memory does play tricks occasionally, as we all know... And I'm certainly never to proud to change my opinion! I'll report back...
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I hate Jerry's tee-shirt....the break was too long.... you call this a parking lot.... you want how much for a tab!.... It is worth remembering why some of us are picky about the music, or at least what my reasons are. First, like Blair my experiences at shows, whether or not the band was on that night or not, were overwhelmingly positive. Our ability to hear the music played so long again, separated from our whole experience of the show, allows us to try to figure out what it was that drew us to the band, to think about the role of the scene, from the hitch-hike to the show, to the new friends met, to the role of drugs, etc and so forth, to our whole experience. To be critical at sites such as this, which do such a great service to us all by presenting us new music, for free, week after week, is to discuss critically, and sometimes heatedly, the music of the band. The music, in total, is such a fantastic legacy of creativity and wonder that it DESERVES careful attention. Everyone has shows, periods, songs they like less then others, and by saying so, and crucially WHY, we open ourselves up to reconsidering our opinions IF those who disagree comeback with something other than "you are a downer, it is all great!" For all my ocassional carping, many, many comments on this site have had me reconsider my views, listen again to shows I had dismissed, find hidden gems.....or perhaps new and more interesting reasons to hold on to views I have. The Dead themselves commented on the negative effects of "rainbow and unicorn" heads--if the audience does not push the band, and demand a certain level of interest and involvement, it is far to easy to slide into musical complacency, particularly if you are touring as much as the Dead did. Like Blair I saw many shows in a row in the late '70's and early '80's, and many a Black Peter sent me back to the parking lot to beet the crowd....but there was nowhere else I rather have been than on the road!
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...that 10/31/83 "St. Stephen" is STILL not good (IMO, of course). It sounds like they're on tranquilizers, it's so slow. It makes the slow '76 versions sound peppy. The transition back from the jam is botched, Bob is in the wrong verse, he and Jerry can't agree on the timing of the "fortune comes a crawlin'" line...Just a mess, and nowhere near the energy of the two East Coast versions. That said, the "drums and space" (featuring Airto) before it is totally cool and different, and the "Revolution" encore, though definitely not great, is better than I remember it. If anyone's going to check it out, I'd suggest the audience version on archive, rather than the soundboard, which feels cold and sterile and has Brent too loud in the mix...I checked out both...
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...to Blair's evocative description of how one could look at the set lists to figure out what was likely to be coming up at shows in that early 80's period: I distinctly remember how we would reckon that there would only be one Terrapin, one or at most two Morning Dews on those east coast tours. Part of the fun was seeing where those pieces would be played (would it be Hampton? Philly? New Haven?, the Byrne?), especially if it was at one of the shows you were attending. Sure, this was an incentive to see the whole tour, but it wasn't a marketing tool from my perspective, because at that point I would always try to see as many shows as I could in any event... I know these stats could be checked in Deadbase, etc., but that's the way we looked at it at the time. It was a scene like no other and it deserves to be recalled on a regular basis: but without the occasional shadows, how could we guage how good the vast majority was?
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...could live in my head for weeks. I don't think I ever viewed it as rare, but maybe it was. During many of the '79-'84 shows I saw, Terrapin was perhaps most often the monster set 2 peak. I wonder how often they played it after drums. Did I ever see one (besides Englishtown)?
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> did CM turn us into spoiled brats? Absolutely not. CM (and others) have merely facilitated my personal development as a brat. > That same anticipation... ...was for moments of true magnificence, and nothing less. Like the line from Paul Grushkin's old Book of the Deadheads: Mammoth Epiphanies. > shoot out of those last three St. Stephens Hartford was probably the best played, but NYC got to hear "in and out of the garden he goes" at the Garden. The crowd response in that moment alone must have stretched the suspension cables, upon which MSG is hung, to their limit. The resulting boing must have been intense. > a great Terrapin... Worcester, MA, October 8, 1984. I scored 4th row on Jerry's side from the box office the morning of the show. The first set opened with Iko; the second with Terrapin. It was one of those nights. Magnificent, in so many ways. http://archive.org/details/gd1984-10-08.senn421.pauline.miller.91376.sbeok.flac16
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Amen, Blair -- couldn't have said it better m'self. I distinctly remember after a show in '83 in New Haven (I'd boarded the bus in '81), saying to my crew -- I don't care what they play --it only matters how they play it. Then by spring '88 east coast tour they did Black Pete at 5 of the 6 shows that I went to (lucky me). I love the tune; don't get me wrong -- but 5 out of 6 ! What are the chances. I recall going to the 3 Worcester shows and saying to the crew in the car (as we excitedly anticpating this that or the other thing/tune, etc.) chiming in and saying again: "I don't care what they do, just as long as they do it w/ (in the words of Arlo Guthrie) WITH FEELING but adding . . . just not another Black Pete -- well, they ended up doing Black Pete back to back nites. BTW -- still love the tune and sing right along w/ it whenever i hear it. "Now, let's go run and see . . ." how this long strange trip continues . . . I am!
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I would only add that there was a lot of complaining and even derision depending on when you first got on the Bus. I recall when I saw my first shows in the Fall of 77 (Englishtown, like so many others, was my first), I was often told by "Heads" how much better things were with Pigpen. They said the Dead and the scene sucked compared to when they first started going to shows. Admittedly, I was similarly disrespectful to the new heads by the late 80s. I just think everyone is somewhat parochial to what they consider their own era. As far as today, initially I had convinced myself that I did not want to see anything Dead-related without Jerry. I have to say I am so happy that I relented and saw a Phil and Friends show a few years back. I then saw the "Dead" with Warren. But, I have loved every minute of Furthur. Once you accept the fact that Furthur is NOT the Grateful Dead, you can dance all night and appreciate that the music you love is still being enjoyed by so many. Thankfully, I am no longer held captive by my desire to hold on to my old memories.
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We heard two Terrapins and one Morning Dew over all of the shows...
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...is that they are in no way denigrated by the present; they exist independently and are what they are, with all the colorations and distortions and veils we put over them through the years. Listening to JK singing a beautiful version of "Comes a Time," as I did watching the Phil & Friends webcast from Terrapin Crossroads last night, in no way diminishes the many memories I have of seeing Jerry sing it, nor does it "compete" with great GD versions of it from '77 or '85 or whenever. Be here now! (And I bet Jerry would've LOVED to have had some tasteful Larry Campbell fiddle, like he played last night, on one of his versions.) Here's a good-sounding mp3 of last night's first-set ending "Foolish Heart" > "Comes a Time" > "Box of Rain": http://www.wmwv.com/3-25-Foolish-Comes-Box.mp3 Band is Phil and Grahame Lesh, Kadlicek, Russo, Chimenti and Larry Campbell. Larry's wifey, Teresa Williams, also sang on several songs. Good show.
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I, too, hope they find their way out of legal limbo. The quality may not be state of the art by todays standards, but to watch the band working their magic at their peak... The Durham, NC. 1978 show alone is worth its weight in gold. Or the '77 New Years run. Or the amazing shows (in both B&W and color) from 1977 and '78 at the Capital Theater in Passaic, NJ... All of these are multi-camera full show vids. Certainly much better quality than, say, the footage released from the Egypt shows. Any of these released with the CDs would be met with overwhelming joy (and open pockets, I daresay). I, for one, hope Rhino and the powers-that-be find both the desire and legal means to make these historic, epic videos available to an audience that would relish seeing them in the best quality possible. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.
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Those videos of those specific shows, flawed as they might be visually, when paired with great audio, would be a delightful upgrade to what we currently have. My other hope would be that the extra footage (outtakes) that was filmed at Winterland for the original 'Grateful Dead Movie' could be joined together to make us a show, or even put out as a box set of DVDs, for that era of the Dead. I would pay for that as well. The 'bonus songs' included on that disc are transportive, and to think that more of that exists (does it Blair?) makes my head spin a bit. Rhino, I do have money that I would love to trade you $ for DVDs of those wonderful shows (use Hal M's list as a start). Really, just make them available. The Truth is realized in an instant, the Act is practiced step by step.
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No Casey Jones, OMSN or GSET after 1972. No St. Stephen's after 1971. No Row Jimmy's at all. But the beauty of loving this band is the evolution of it all. I'm partial to the songs I heard when I attended shows, but every "era" has something to offer. My favorite "Shakedown Street" is from Phil & Friends (7-7-01 I think) and the "Attics" from RCMH (you know the one)will make you weep.

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Your post about Black Peter cracked me up. For me, it was Row Jimmy (amazing to read that Skwimite never saw one).....I worked it out in retrospect and I saw a Row Jimmy every third show on average ~ and several onesey-twosie (non-stand) shows in a row. And nearly as many Stella Blues. The funny thing is, those two songs have emerged over the post-GD years as sentimental favorites of mine, and on the short list of those I wish I could hear Jerry sing (and paint a solo on) just one more time. Lovely Row Jimmy on View From the Vault II (6/14/91), the umpteenth one in my show-seeing career at the time and the solo was still a near tear-jerker. Great latter-day Grateful Dead concert, that one. Pomo1, I think you're totally correct about being (righteously) partial to your own "era" compared to the one that followed. The Brent era was mine ~ though the '91 show noted above demonstrated there were still a few classics left in my post-Brent landscape. Far fewer, though, then had been. Then again, I was less starry-eyed about the band by then, too ~ yes, I was a picky Deadhead sometimes. I could elaborate, but I'm going to bed.......visions of sugar-plums, dancing bears, and...and.... has anyone else had that experience where you dream you're at a show again, Jerry and the boys are on stage, and you've got a great seat or place to stand....and then the band just never starts playing? Or if they do, it's Old Susannah, or something? Sigh. (I did get paid once with their launching into Cold Rain and Snow in a show dream in the anticipatory weeks leading up to Hampton '87 and Jerry's triumphant east coast return).
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....here is a picky head! Saw the above post, checked out the show....I find it one of the most pathetic lack-luster Terrapins I have ever heard! I am sure it was great to be there for any number of reasons, but if that is a great Terrapin (no tension and release, little subtle timbre variation during the jam, no "stop-time" moments, limited expressiveness, dynamically truncated, I could go on!), then I am Jerry reincarnated!
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For me pickiness is not an issue, but thoughtfulness is. There are those who think all shows were great, and those who think it was all downhill from the death of Pig Pen, who articulate there reasons both effectively, and not at all! Folks on this site, in my humble opinion, do both. Whatever you think your view has legitimacy if it comes off as the result of some sort of real reflection. It does not have to be "analytic," for me the most articulate member of "it is all good" camp is Shebear, who, by use of poetry, makes it clear that for her the experience of a Dead show, almost any show, was about personal transformation, it was a catalyst for her of personal journeys of discover, as her verse makes clear. I respect that! So folks, something you like or don't like, try to make others see what you see, because, as we all know, there comes a time......
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I like that! For me, those came during GREAT (1x or 2x a tour?) odd-meter and mid-tempo jams when you get caught up pondering "what song/verse was/is this? Music Never Stopped, Terrapin, Cassidy, Lazy Lightning, a few more. I suspect I most often had those "nirvanic" moments during intense mini-jams throughout Wharf Rat. What a song, and what a stylist Jerry was!
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  • uncjhn
    6 years 7 months ago
    Rainbows All The Way
    Grateful to have been part of this scene for more than 30 years. Thank You.Thank You. Thank You All.
  • uncjhn
    6 years 7 months ago
    Rainbows All The Way
    Grateful to have been part of this scene for more than 30 years. Thank You.Thank You. Thank You All.
  • fluffanutter
    6 years 7 months ago
    Yeah, Shady
    What is up with the hoodlums flying dead colors these days? It's happening right now in the town where I live. I don't like it. In more ways than one. Is there a gang that has adopted the the stealie??
  • Shady Backflash
    6 years 7 months ago
    Thanks Blair!
    I was not a PDH when Jerry was alive. Well, that's not entirely true. I was a picky Deadhead about the *audience* but not about *the music.* I loved the music and I loved the people playing the music and I wished that the audience that was showing up was more respectful. I was an arrogant youngster who somehow thought I had a handle on who should and shouldn't be showing up at shows. It bear's mentioning that I saw most of my shows on the left coast and was appalled by some of the east coast gigs. Now I'm straight up appalled by what I see at left coast gigs too. After the third night of a 3 show Dark Star Orchestra run at the Great American Music Hall, some punk on the sidewalk decided to hurl a nitrous tank through the plate glass window of the pipe shop next door the Great American. No doubt they were yelling that they were "Grateful Dead Family" while doing so. It pains me to see people behave rudely in the name of the Grateful Dead, like they've somehow earned the right to take up "our" colors as "their" flag and pretend like the Grateful Dead was a street gang that only select hoodlums could join. Bleh. Anyway, I was not much of a PDH about the Grateful Dead. There were songs I loved and songs I didn't love so much, and I was able to understand more clearly after Jerry died what made a TRULY GREAT SHOW (on tape.) These days I try to keep my rainbow and unicorn vision from getting tarnished by what I see as rampant thuggy stupidity, but it is definitely disheartening. As for the current music, 7 Walkers is my favorite new project on the road because I love the Meters almost as much as I love the Grateful Dead, but I commend all the surviving members of the Grateful Dead for carrying the torch, each in their own unique way.
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    blackbearmama
    6 years 7 months ago
    The music
    I love all the years of the music. Its like a big family of sound, early years are children that grow up. We connect to whatever sounds and memories our experience defines at whatever level of growth. The music evolves, the band evolves, the new bands, peripheral sounds, all encompassing a common thread that is not so defined in text. Keep it coming, in whatever form with whatever spirits.....I love all the years of the music. Some moments are better than others, but I would never trade one moment for no moment. Thanks musicians. We appreciate what you give.