The new Dave’s Picks, number 9 of what I hope will be an infinite series, has been announced. The Dead’s only Montana show, and it is am all-time, but perhaps underrated great: 5/14/74 in Missoula. This is in Big Sky Country, which has earned its name by having nothing in the way of an immense canopy of blue. I’ve seen pictures, and if I were there and ventured outside, I would immediately drop to the ground, clutching at shrubbery in fear of shooting upwards: falling to death in reverse, ever upwards.
Billy’s deft snare work and light hand cymbal was always what separated him from the common, thundering horde. Billy put the ‘b’ in subtle, and that was evident on the cowboy songs at this show, and they played fucking all of them. Bobby saw that sky and screamed, “Bobby the Kid RIDES tonight!” And then he leapt on the back of a hefty groupie and put his spurs (Bobby was wearing his spurs; this would be the last time it was permitted) into her sides. Except, you know: she wasn’t a horse, so she just had the wind knocked out of her and collapsed. Bobby skinned his knee.
And listen to 3.18 into the Weather Report Suite, when Garcia’s guitar chokes back a tear…
The PITB (I always hated that shorthand: my brain insists on pronouncing it like a Bronx Cheer) from Montana is a masterpiece, with a the band stretching out for hours in between Mrs. Donna Jean’s wails. Keith stays on the down-and-dirty Rhodes piano and Bobby plays flamenco flourishes until they completely whiff on the transition back into the song, each of them stuttering and deferring to the others, like Englishmen arriving at a door simultaneously.
The Dark Star is a ’74 Dark Star, and if you don’t know what that means, then I hope Billy punch your mother right in her dick.