Spurs ‘n’ Chaps Bobby had his cowboy songs, which the drummers hated; New Wave Bobby had his oeuevre of angular, weirdly melodied songs, which Jerry hated; and Blind Lemon Bobby had his clusterfuckingly tortuous first set Blooz-stravaganza, which ear-possessors hated.
Speak not to me of wang, nor dang, nor doodle, Bobert Weir! I will not look what you done done. And you put DOWN that slide guitar, Mister! Next time I see you with that slide guitar, you better be trying to flush a South American strongman out of hiding.
But there was one more Bobby, and he was my favorite Bobby: Sock Hop Bobby, who loved the old jukebox singles and 50’s rock and, most of all, Chuck Berry. (At both Woodstock and the Trans-Canada Festival, Bobby paid way too much attention to Sha Na Na. He shrieked like a girl when he clapped for them and after their set, Bobby followed the lead singer into the bathroom and just openly stared at the guy’s cock. Like not in a gay way? It was more like–I’m not explaining this right. It was Bobby just being all, “That is a thing. That is an honest-to-god thing right there. It is a cock that cock right there and I am LOOKING. I am LOOKING right AT IT. Hey, stop hitting me.” Even for Bobby, that was a behavioral outlier. It led to a stern talking to from Phil that touched upon many subjects, but mostly “expectations.”)
Except, Phil kinda ruined most of the Chuck Berry songs, didn’t he? The rest of them were pretty adroit with the rockers: Jerry always bit into them with vigor, Bobby could yelp just as good as Bob Seger or any other white guy in the Seventies, and Keith played the shit out of the boogie piano. (Strangely enough, he was absolutely amateurish at woogie piano.)
But, Phil? No, he was far too good of a musician to play those songs well. They were brutal, dumb hammers of music, but as we all know: Phil was a surgeon. He delicately flitted about both the root note and the downbeat like a savage butterfly, exposing the inner horrible grace of the mixed-ionian-calipygian modes and the sweet, sw–PHIL, STOP FUCKING AROUND AND PLAY THE GODDAMN SONG. IT’S JUST A FAST TWELVE-BAR BLUES TUNE. STOP WITH THE CHORD SUBSTITUTION.