Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

All I Said Was Come On In

I’ve often heard the question about the Philosopher’s Stone of the Dead. The show or album or song that, when played to a normal human being, will convert them to Enthusiasts instantly and irrevocably.  This is kind of a vampire fantasy, isn’t it. Infecting someone…someone with a future and hopes and dreams and $52 in his pocket who just hit the big city and needs to DANCE.

That got away from me. I apologize.

My point is: remember how the Dead (and we) would winkingly refer to the first set as the warm-up? Most people prefer the band they have paid good money to see warm up prior to the audience arriving. What I’m getting at is that the Dead did a lot of weird, almost deliberately off-putting stuff that we, as Enthusiasts might love (or at least tolerate), but people who like U2 might not. These are the things that will never, ever convert anyone into ONE OF US, ONE OF US.

  • Blues for Allah, the song, is just too much. It is the Dead at its Deadiest. This song is the sound of seven people Grateful Deading as hard as they fucking could. How Grateful Dead is it? Mickey spent a hundred grand playing the crickets. (To their credit, though: can you imagine an American band writing a 20-minute opus about fucking Allah nowadays? Megyn Kelly’s head would explode, live on camera.
  • Don’t start people off with Seastones. Don’t ever play people Seastones. In fact, it’s better to not mention Ned Lagin at all.
  • Brent’s songs. Sorry, but true.
  • Any show that contains more than one stretch of tuning that last longer than the song preceding it. And don’t tell me about “banter.” If it’s actually banter, then it will be labeled as such. Do you think you’re dealing with children here?
  • Dark Star. Yes, I know: a controversial and attention-gathering choice. I imagine you’re perturbed, but under no circumstances riot. No circumstances at all. (So, yeah, Dark Star is a bad intro because, c’mon: it’s barely a song. Dark Star was more of a magic trick: when we play these chords and sing these words, they act as an invocation to the muse and we just jam for 20 minutes and are AWESOME. Dark Star was like SHAZAM: say the word and save the world.)
  • Any Sugaree over 16 minutes. A sixteen minute Sugaree? You’re gonna throw that at an unprepared guy? That is so much Sugaree. Now, you and I  know that there is no amount of Sugaree that is too much Sugaree, but the average human is unaware of this fact. They have, in my experience, even become violently opposed to (and I am quoting), “ONE MORE SECOND OF THE DOODLY-DOODLY, AND I’LL PLOW INTO A FUCKING TREE.” Philistines.

Besides, we all know the perfect intro to the Dead is Eyes off of One from the Vault. Case closed.

In addendum: While writing this post, I was obviously listening to One from the Vault, but hadn’t gotten to Blues for Allah yet.

I just got to Blues for Allah.

Are you fucking kidding me? None of us are ever allowed to make fun of Yes again. This is goofier than a sackful of your cousins. It’s just Orientalist noise; Edward Said would have loathed this thing.


  1. Major points for the Edward Said reference.

    What you say about Sugaree is true. For us, the longer the better, but for the uninitiated…

  2. Yes to Eyes but also China Cat/Rider from Europe ’72 and Not Fade Away/GDTRFB from Skull & Roses. Sides 2 & 3 of the vinyl Live Dead (St. Stephen through Lovelight) did it for me, too.

    What’s the common thread here? Recorded live, 1975 or earlier. After 1980 or so, it was a long, slow slide to oblivion.

  3. The common thread for this poet is “stuff you shouldn’t play normal people because it will cause them to hate the Dead forever and possibly call the authorities on you.”

  4. david notliemouz

    August 9, 2014 at 11:20 am

    *mumbles about live/dead dark star and cow palace ’76 eyes*

  5. GENIUS post. (i am similar to the new yorker, right?)

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