Sunday, March 25, 2012

And We Bid You Goodnight Videos from Youtube

Indescribable emotions on this journey through some videos of And We Bid You Goodnight.  Each one of these is special in its own way but that first one from Hamptom really distinguishes itself (Jerry playing The Wolf!)

Dire Wolf - Grateful Dead Song Review

Dire Wolf is a cool song from Workingman's Dead that I connected to immediately as a teenager (unlike so many of the great songs that it took me years to appreciate).  Of course, I heard it for the first time when discovering the Dead in the 1990's, but still it is a catchy and accessible tune - even to my 'unexperienced' ears.

The lyrics are the product of Robert Hunter's amazing imagination and take you to a (seemingly) long ago snowy night where the protagonist is visited by an eerie and imposing animal.

The song was played throughout the Dead's career and translated well to acoustic and Jerry would also include it on "acoustic type" shows with John Kahn.  Having the song available for the acoustic JGB means that Jerry was really comfortable with the song and performances of it seem consistently great.

It's definitely a 'classic' and the version on Workingman's Dead has some great pedal steel playing on it (by Jerry).

One interesting memory I have is hearing the tale of Jerry playing this song at Deer Creek on July 2nd 1995 after receiving death threats. That concert was played with the house lights on (for the safety of the band).  The sense of humor involved in singing these lyrics:

Don't murder me
I beg of you dont murder me
Please don't murder me

after getting death threats is pretty legendary.  I believe that version is available on here (an audience recording with some nice crowd reaction):

There's an amazingly long comment thread on that page about the gate crashing incident.  Many commenters have gone out of their way to point out how bad Jerry played at this show.  This may be true, (I havent listened to the entire show) but that means that what I said about Dire Wolf being consistently great is true because it's a pretty flawless version on that recording.

Dire Wolf Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 8.8

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion (and be sure to read my blog manifesto to understand a little more about where I'm coming from).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Couple Great Reuben and Cherise Videos

I was just listening to songs on youtube and  have you ever noticed how people are confrontational and there's a lot of haters on youtube?

So I really appreciate that there is 66 "likes" and 0 "dislikes" on the above video and 195 "likes" and 0 "dislikes" on the below.

Chilling crowd reaction on the above video.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Desolation Row - Grateful Dead Song Review

I'm a huge Dylan fan so I wonder why this song isn't more of a favorite of mine.

In an interview I read in the Relix Compilation Book Jerry Garcia was asked what songs he wants to remove from the Grateful Dead repertoire.  Surprisingly instead of dodging the question outright, he responds "some of the Dylan" tunes (something along those lines*).  The interview was from later in the band's career - I believe in the 1990's.

I imagine Jerry was referring to Desolation Row and/or Queen Jane Approximately - first set "Bobby songs."  When I paint My Masterpiece seemed to be a little more of a favorite of the band (and much shorter with a harmonic modulation to keep it interesting).  Phil's Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues was rarer and pretty great too.  There are more examples of Dylan tunes (Watchtower, Baby Blue, Memphis Blues, etc.) but in my opinion Jerry was talking about Desolation and Queen Jane.

Why would Jerry be wanting to remove these songs from the Dead setlist?  For the same reason I think Desolation Row is a little lackluster - they are simple, long, and a bit boring.  Desolation Row is basically a very long acoustic beatnik poem that the band adopted to the live setting.  There's just too much firepower on stage to waste it on 11 minutes of Desolation Row.   The song also had no real jam section, just soloists taking "a verse here," and "a verse there."

So while there are some iconic lines like:  ....playing the electric violin on Desolation Row.
And: Cinderella she seems so easy, it takes one to know one she smiles, and puts her hands in her back pockets, Bette Davis Style...

Overall, the song is a little lackluster.  It would've been great to see Desolation Row (I never did) but it is hard to make it through it on tapes.

Desolation Row Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 6.8

*the Relix book is great and reviewed here, but it does not have a table of contents so it is hard to find specific articles.

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion (and be sure to read my blog manifesto to understand a little more about where I'm coming from).

Friday, March 16, 2012

Relix -The Book Compiled by Toni Brown - Grateful Dead Book Review

This book contains enough material for 10 "average" books about The Grateful Dead. It was released in late 2009 and I am pretty sure it is pretty easy to get a hold of if you do an online search.

The 'old Relix' was a psychedelic music magazine that actually started out as a Grateful Dead tape trading document.  I say the 'old Relix' because I feel that it is different now, even though it has stayed true to the jamband scene (visit the website of the 'modern day Relix').

This compilation of articles and artwork from Relix is so extensive it is a Deadhead's dream.  If you were an anthropologist, I think you would appreciate this book even if you had never heard of The Grateful Dead.

There are over 200 pages of
  • articles
  • artwork
  • cartoons 
  • jokes 
  • fan mail 
  • photos 
  • interviews

...and everything else you could imagine. Each "scrapbook style" page can hold  multiple  pages worth of magazine content from old Relix magazines. There is just way too much good stuff in this book. No one could ever read every word - impossible.

All info is taken from the pages of Relix.  There is ample coverage of the Jamband scene through the years (before it really was a scene) and you can read about what was happening with the Allman Brothers or Hot Tuna at random times in their careers.  There's lots of funny "political style" cartoons that make light of the Grateful Dead experience. As an example of the 'fun' nature: there's a Jefferson Airplane word search on one page(!).

I really enjoyed the coverage and activism around the legal problems that Deadheads faced in the 80's and 90's due to gnarly LSD sentencing.

I also enjoyed the foreword by Les Kippel (who started Dead Relix for tape trading).  He also has an article in the Relix compilation called "the History of Taping" (or something like that) from back in the 80's (I think).  I can't actually find it to verify because there's no table of contents (I wouldn't even want one - it's not that kind of book).

To be sure there's tons of Dead content including exclusive interviews.  There's a section about the scene "Post Jerry." Ther'es just about everything you could imagine.

Relix, The Book: The Grateful Dead Experience Book Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 10.0  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Grateful Dead Songs that are Not Bobby or Jerry Songs

I was thinking about how Jack Straw is not really a Bobby or Jerry tune but rather a Grateful Dead tune, and I thought I'd try to put together a list of songs that are not associated with any particular member (from Pigpen all the way through Vince). I left out instrumentsals of course.

What am I missing?

Grateful Dead "Not Bobby Not Jerry (Not Anyone)" Songlist

And We Bid you Goodnight (okay, a little more Jerry than everyone else)
Attics of My Life 
Blues for Allah
Brokedown Palace (the most controversial choice - but I stand by it not being a "Jerry" tune - many would disagree)
Dancing in the Street
Gimme Some Lovin  (really feels like a Brent song)
I know you Rider
Jack Straw
Let the Good Times Roll
Maggies Farm
Not Fade Away
Rainy Day Women (included because they played it after Dylan/Dead tour)
Saint Stephen (a slight lean to being a "Jerry tune")
The Eleven 
The Last Time
The Weight 
The Wheel  (another slight lean to a "Jerry tune")
Till the Morning Comes
Uncle John's Band
Viola Lee Blues
Why Don't We Do it in the Road

Diclaimer: This blog is just the opinion of one solitary guy and intended to encourage discourse.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Grateful Dead Facebook Fan Pages - Communities Reviews

Disclaimer: I love that people put their time and energy into sharing information and media of GD on facebook.  I commend them for doing so and they all enhance my life in a positive way.

I link to them below and also add a bit of a review of which ones I like the best. My "review"  is just for fun and only one guy's opinion (see blog disclaimer).  Just because I prefer not to see posts of GD lyrics snippets or "post Jerry" Dead family projects does not mean that isn't great information for other users. One thing though, it really chaps my hide when these pages post incorrect lyrics (happens way too often) - that's totally gross.

Grateful Dead Facebook Fan Pages/Communities Reviews

Parking Lots of Grateful Dead Tours - Mike's Favorite 

Current Members:  9,2645
Location:  San Francisco
Posts Per Day:  10-20
Gratuitous Dead Lyrics Posts:  Medium
Unrelated Acts/Information:  Minimal

The name alone makes this page great, and you gotta love the choice of content on this facebook fan page.  My favorite thing about it is that they administrate a youtube channel and put links to great footage on it.  And my second favorite thing about this fan page is that they post youtube videos of ENTIRE SETS/SHOWS.  Delicious. 

Grateful Dead Books - Another Great Page  
Current Members: 14,088
Location: Atlanta Georgia
Posts Per Day: 40+
Gratuitous Dead Lyrics Posts: Medium
Unrelated Acts/Information: A lot of content unrelated to GD

I must point out that the "Grateful Dead Books" community is a treasure trove.  I think it's the first "unofficial" GD Facebook community I joined, and they post great stuff.  I think there's at least couple of different administrators (sometimes you see signature like ~GDB-SEPA~, or a reference to Grateful Dead Books West). This is where I learn about a lot of great books (and other products). They post links to good youtube videos and often post several original/alternative versions of songs that the Grateful Dead cover (which I find interesting but never watch).  I believe it was this page that "live tweets" shows that are broadcasted online (like from TRI Studios), and I enjoyed one time when they were critical of the song Corrina.

A little too much "un Dead" related content though (for my tastes), and I was deeply disturbed by the recent post of  a youtube video of Warren Haynes singing a Metallica song.  It seems like JK has nailed down the guitar duties for the remaining Dead acts (wish Kimock would also be in that mix, or even Jimmy Herring), but we need to do everything we can to make sure Warren Haynes does not somehow slip back onstage with the Dead.

Grateful Dead Hall of Fame  - Ooooh, the awesome "child" of Grateful Dead Books

Current Members:  2495
Location:  San Francisco
Posts Per Day:  5-10
Gratuitous Dead Lyrics Posts: Never
Unrelated Acts/Information:  Medium

I wish there was a "love" button that would allow me to differentiate from merely "liking" things on facebook.  This page appears to be an offshoot of Grateful Dead Books page but there's nothing wrong with that.  This page seems to have mostly GD related posts including links to FULL SETS/SHOWS on Youtube and more notably FULL JGB Shows (yes!).  

I just found this one recently and I can already tell when I need something to listen to, it's going to be my "go to" page.

Grateful Dead - I think this is the "Official" GD Page
Current Members:  1,248,181
Location:  San Francisco
Posts Per Day:  1-2
Gratuitous Dead Lyrics Posts:  Never
Unrelated Acts/Information:  Almost None

This is the "official" Grateful Dead Facebook page so of course it's a "must follow" but much like The Grateful Dead Almanac was not nearly as juicy as Relix Magazine, sometimes the polished corporate voice isn't as fun as fan generated content.

I'm couldn't be less interested in the recent video series called the "Dead Covers Project" but I am sure it's great fun for others. There's lots of other great content on here and of course many many reminders about upcoming "official" GD releases.

Grateful Dead Tour - Nothing Left to Do But Like Like Like

Current Members:  14,262
Posts Per Day:  10
Gratuitous Dead Lyrics Posts:  Often
Unrelated Acts/Information: None

The profile picture above (of Brent) and the pictures to the right of it (including blotter artwork) should tell you that this fan page is legit. Of course, what I also love is the links to youtube of JGB shows and ENTIRE SHOWS/SETS of the Dead (!) This page posts lots of really nice youtube finds of rarities and interesting tunes.  No "post Jerry" Dead projects here that I can find (thanks).

Current Members:  18,794
Location:  Alameda
Posts Per Day:  10
Gratuitous Dead Lyrics Posts:  Never
Unrelated Acts/Information:  Tons of good info about Dead side projects

A good resource for modern day Dead related events.  Lots of updates about Jackie Greene, Mickey Hart, 7 Walkers and other Dead related projects.  So I'm not that interested in this one, but another good tool to keep on top of what's going on in the  "Deadsphere."

It is also apparently the facebook manifestation of a blog about current Dead topics (naturally located at  This blog is where you can find some good editorial content about recent Dead related shows and setlists, etc.Deadheadland has a couple of youtube channels as well.

Deadheadland is doing a lot of fundraising on the facebook platform and the blog, and at first I thought there was an actual Deadheadland location but it turns out it is just to support the costs of the guy who writes the content... that's cool I guess, if you enjoy it I suppose you should contribute.

I will update with more pages as I become aware of them...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

DVD Review: Grateful Dead View from the Vault IV

View from the Vault IV: DVD Review

I bet you my neighbors were very bummed that I got my hands on this DVD because that's about 4 hours of live Dead that was played at full volume over the course of 2 nights.

The shows are from 1987 - most of 2 sets from Oakland Coliseum and most of 2 sets from Anaheim Stadium.  The shows are tight.  This is the Grateful Dead putting on excellent performances in front of large audiences on the "Dylan & the Dead Tour."

It is kind of hard to believe the Dead would continue after two sets and put on a 3rd set with Bob Dylan singing.  Although I am a huge Dylan fan, I am glad this DVD doesn't feature any of his sets.  Dylan's live performances are mired in a strange vocal delivery that is as eccentric as Dylan himself.

The Anaheim Stadium show I watched first and I think I have to give a slight nod to this show over the other. The show starts with an Iko Iko which is just great to behold during a bright sunny outdoor show - what fun everyone must have had.

The Anaheim  show heats up with a nice West L.A. Fadeaway and a great version of Mexicali Blues.  There's a Bird Song with some crazy sound effects.  Throughout both DVDs there's some great psychedelic video effects - sometimes completely drowning out the image  but usually just perfectly enhancing the video without stealing the show.

The highlight of the second set (for me) was the performance of Terrapin Station. This song is also during the day - kind of a weird setting for Terrapin if you ask me.  I appreciate that they cut out several songs but opted to leave in Drums/Space for both shows.

The Oakland Show is really great because the band is in such comfortable environment and you really get to see Brent and Jerry vibing off each other as they sing together on songs like Dear Mr. Fantasy and Uncle John's Band.  The beginning of Dear Mr. Fantasy is really rough but I think the interplay of Jerry and Brent on this song is my favorite part of the DVD set.

The rest of the show is good, and Jerry is wearing his flannel at this show which is pretty rare.

View from the Vault 4: Highly Recommended.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Open Letter for the Release of all 1990s Audio and Video Footage of the Grateful Dead

Feel free to leave a comment below to show your support for this letter:

It's been nearly 17 years since Jerry Garcia died on August 9th, 1995.

In that time many others have passed away. Many of us who remain live with a void in our life.

The Grateful Dead were one of the biggest touring bands in the world, and their performances were well documented.  There has been a trickle of commercial releases which are wonderful to behold.

But for fans of the late era of The Grateful Dead (specifically 1990 -1995), there is a dearth of commercial releases.

In light of the many years that have passed and the ephemereal nature of life, we ask that the Grateful Dead release the entire archive of audio and video so that the greater community can have access to as much of the legacy as possible.

Even if the archive is sold at a premium cost, we are willing to support this endeavor financially.  It is not a "freebie" we are expecting, it is merely access to the recordings that represent such a special period in our lives.

Mike of Mike's Grateful Dead Blog
comment below to support this movement and share with friends
photo credit Jim Anderson

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sunshine Daydream - One Girl's Tale... Book Review

I got higher spinning continuously to "Morning Dew" than I could ever get off any drug.  I went places that are not of this plane. My soul was cleansed and the strength to carry on filled my body and mind. "Morning Dew" became my church.  - excerpt from Sunshine Daydream - One Girls Tale of Life on the Bus

Wow, what a great read.  This is the story of "real" Deadheads - the kind that went on tour for their living and made it a real life choice. Talia's book chronicles several years on tour in the late 1980s (and a little bit in the 1990s too I think).  

When I went to Dead shows (always on the West Coast for me and I made it to Vegas too), there were the righteous hippies that had school buses and really seemed to live in a completely different "system" than the rest of America.  These folk were active in environmental issues, would clean up the parking lot, and would generally "walk the talk." This is the kind of Dead family that Talia Rose was a part of.
Incidentally, as I've attempted to recapture the Dead experience at other types of shows (Phish, etc), one of the main things missing is the presence of these kind of "rainbow family hippies" who really would enhance the experience with their presence.    

An Ethnographic Foray Into an Often Dark Subculture 

The book is detailed and long.  For me it was hard to put down, but I am not sure if it would be nearly as addictive to someone who's not a Grateful Dead fanatic.

One thing is for sure  - Talia pulled no punches and you can see the dark side of the Dead tourheads in this book.  Within the first 40 pages of the book (420 pages long!) she is addicted to heroin - and that's the very beginning of life on tour for her.  She manages to get away from that deadly addiction and experiences the ups and downs of life on tour for a few years. 

There's lots of great shows and beautiful experiences - including a lot of psychedelic adventures. Talia is influential in getting Deadheads to take care of the parking lot in order to make a better impression on the surrounding communities and lessen the Dead tour "footprint."  Talia also shares many great camping and travelling adventures, including her experience travelling to the Telluride Shows for the Harmonic Convergence (which would be the #1 show to go to if I had a time machine).  

But as much joy and fun as there is "on tour"  there's also many disturbing accounts of shockingly bad parenting, addiction, betrayal, and the Feds infiltrating Dead tour.

Talia and her Dead family network are based in Northern California in between tours and make money selling legal and illegal items on Dead tour.  Talia experiences more car trouble during this few years than most people will experience in a lifetime, and really makes me glad I never bought that VW bus I always fantasized about.

Talia has constant obsessions that people are photographing and watching her on Dead tour and it seems she is being paranoid but then she eventually gets busted by the DEA.  In once scene the Feds offer her a deal that she can walk away from her (very serious) LSD charge if she can implicate one of the band members in conspiracy to traffic LSD! This indicates to me that there really was a war against the Dead  by the authorities and I think the fact that people were tripping and starting to "think differently" or "radically" might have been been part of "the system's" fear.

Prison Life and Unfair LSD Sentencing Activism

Sunshine Daydream does a great job telling the reader what it was like to be plucked away from tour to go on trial and then eventually to prison for drug trafficking.  This was a part of the experience for a lot of Deadheads that I've met.

Talia was a influential in the movement against unlawful LSD sentencing (unlawful due to the practice of weighing the material that LSD came on).  She was part of an underground network of prisoners who communicated via letters and she got in trouble many times in prison for this type of activity.  Ultimately, I know the Grateful Dead band members even spoke out about this unjust sentencing practice and the issue got a bit of media exposure.  I am still not sure if the unfortunate souls who who were unfairly sentenced for exaggerated LSD quantities ever got much leniency as a result of this kind of activism.

The prison experience part of the book was very interesting to me.  Talia continues to experiment with psychedelics, frequently tunes into to The Grateful Dead Hour show (which understandably becomes a lifeline for her), and ultimately makes peace with the prison experience so it does not destroy her.  She also dedicates herself to writing (probably she was working on this very book). I found this kind of inspirational.

Life after prison shows her looking in on the touring lifestyle, but things have changed - but has she changed or is it the Dead scene?

...This is a great book about life on tour, and anyone who is a Deadhead will enjoy it

Sunshine Daydream -One Girl's Tale of Life on the Bus Book Rating: N/A(not going to do any more numerical ratings of books like this because they are not perfect yet I am too appreciative of their existence to give anything but a 10.0).