Why hasn’t Barton Hall been released commercially? Not that I’m looking for it, obviously: I can still remember the all-black Maxxell with 5/8/77!!! written on the tag in red ink. Since then, I’ve never not listened to this show. Even though the boys and I drifted apart during the first decade of the new millennium, that second set still called to me. “Just the first little bit,” I would tell myself. “Just the opening to Scarlet: dat dat dat–bom ba WHOOOM!” And then, of course, it would be seventy minutes later and the Dead would have destroyed and rebuilt the world with Morning Dew.
But no official release. They have the tapes, obviously, along with a fondness for releasing Spring/Fall ’77 shows–there have been 5 Dick’s Picks, one Road Trip, one Digital Download, To Terrapin, and the 10 CD Winterland ’77 box set. (Swear I did that by memory, so if I’m wrong, then…I don’t know: nothing, I guess. Carry on wasting time reading this nonsense.)
There’s a great book that came out last year, Love Goes to Buildings on Fire by Will Hermes. It might be the definitive history of one of the most fertile musical scenes in history, New York in the 70’s. The author is mugged taking the subway to the train for Cornell and loses not only his money, but also his Dead tickets. The New York Times wrote an article recently about the archive and the sheer volume of shows available nowadays and its effect on ranking shows and whether or not the band should be appreciated show-by-show or by tour. Quite honestly, I think the author of the article was assigned an article covering The Dead’s weary arrival into Manhattan and just couldn’t interview Bobby again. True, there had been no dickpunching since Billy went back to the ocean, but still, you try asking Bobby any other question other than, “When did you start looking like Dad Wolf from Teen Wolf?
Anyway, what I’m saying is that 5/8/77 is kind of almost vaguely “out there.” And we’re coming up on the 35th anniversary, but no one’s talking advantage of it. New members, fresh blood. Think I haven’t seen hobbies die? I used to work in a comic book shop, man: Hell holds no terrors for me.