Thoughts On The Dead

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

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Is there a God? Where did Atlantis get to? Why don’t french fries travel? These are timeless and possibly unanswerable questions, as is “What is the Best EVAR Sugaree?” (The question about the fries is a far more worthy subject of thought: if you could invent a gadget to make french fries that have gone cold edible again, then you would make a ton of money; even if there were an answer to the Sugaree dilemma, and you came up with it, no one would give a shit.)

There is no Best EVAR Sugaree, or any other Dead song, or any other anything: we all know this. (And if you don’t, play along.) You can put together a list of a dozen of the suckers, and say that those are the outstanding performances, but any finer gradation is a waste of time for everyone except the freelancer being paid to put together the listicle; as I am not being paid, I will not rank the Top Ten Harblegarble Sugabarbles.

It’s beneath us.

But, Enthusiasts, can we define the necessary essential traits of a Best EVAR Sugaree? Do a shadow drawing of the Sugaree on the cave wall? I believe we can.

A Certain Vintage No Sugaree from before 1977 can be considered. A Sugaree from 1972 is a teeny-tiny Sugaree, and wobbles about in its crib in an adorable fashion; ’73 is no better, and you know my love for that year. The song needed a couple of years to figure itself out, like a gay teen or a straight teen or any teen at all. (Teens are all fucked up.) What happens when you let sugar age? It turns into booze. A pre-1977 Sugaree is like drinking wine that hasn’t turned into wine just quite yet.

A Certain Length Get that eleven-minute bullshit out of here, Grateful Dead. You think this is a game, Grateful Dead? You get back on that stage, you turn on those amplifiers, and you play Sugaree for ten or twelve more minutes. Sugaree wants to be at least fifteen-minutes long, and not allowing it to self-actualize is racist. Do not be racist against Sugaree, Grateful Dead.

Seriously: Gotta Be Long Like a porn dong or a line of coke (both of which could be found in John Holmes’ trousers), longer is better. Is the longest Sugaree by definition the Best EVAR? No, but kinda.

And The Jams, Sir? What of The Jams? They should be mighty. Like ranging battlefields, slick with blood and victory and D chords. (It must at this point be noted that there are only two chords in Sugaree, except for the little bit before the chorus. Sugaree and Fire on the Mountain are almost mostly the same song.) The jams–of which there are two major ones–must bristle with velocity and lope with keen ferocity; make no mistake, Enthusiasts: Sugaree is Deep Choogle.

How Much Should Garcia Solo? As much as is possible by the laws of man and God.

When Should Garcia Stop Soloing? If a fire breaks out in the venue. Or when it’s time for him to sing. Otherwise, never.


Yeah, That Thing He absolutely must do that in order for the Sugaree to be in contention for Best EVAR, yes.

Other Assorted Requirements For Best EVAR

  • Phil has to play that descending lick under “Maybe I’ll meet you on the run,” that he does sometimes.
  • Must smell like pine.
  • All lyrics remembered. (I mean: within reason. Let’s not be Lyric Nazis.)
  • Song cannot break down at the eight-minute mark due to a fistfight between drummers.
  • 3.6 weighted GPA, 1300 SAT score, and extra-curriculars.
  • Can’t be one of the renditions in which someone (I wont mention Garcia’s name) goes in and out of consciousness several times.
  • Credit score of 680, or a co-signer.


  1. Douglas MacKinnon

    October 27, 2016 at 12:24 am

    10/17/83 Lake Placid

  2. Don’t know about God and Atlantis, but, re: french fries, a foodie friend has come up with this:

    Y’all. Please gather ’round for this important announcement: this morning, I cracked an important code. I am having a DJ Khaled, major key moment and I need to share that with y’all.
    So we all know that next day #fries are the pits. Even Jesus Christ can’t save second day papas. Before I go into the big reveal, I need to qualify myself by saying fried potatoes are my favorite and most commonly ingested food, and I’m a real stickler ’bout mine. This discernment is in no small way attributed to my time @nopa_sf when I ate them five days per week, for nearly five years. Crispy Nopa fries are a benchmark. They were never good on the second day. Until now.
    That’s right. I figured out how to re-fry fries! It doesn’t involve adding more oil, or baking or any of that. All you need is a cast-iron skillet. Refrigerated fries get soggy. Putting them on a cast-iron skillet on high heat removes the moisture. Shaking them around the pan like they’re in a vigorous drying cycle. The residual oil somehow re-crisps them in a spectacular and surprising fashion. If you have cold fries try this now. Sharing is caring, guys. I love you.

    As for Sugaree, just when you think they don’t have another good one left in them, you get over 18 minutes of heaven:

    And you get this in the very first verse: “just one chance I ask of you, just one chance (unintelligible, and Garcia plays a BIG clam).” There are various lyric drop outs, fans, peaks and valleys, etc., and at the end you have no idea if Garcia thinks the song is over or if he’s gonna bring it back for the big finale. He does, and it’s glorious. Listen to the audience reactions throughout; and if the pedal steely sweetness from 11:00 to 14:00 doesn’t bring you to your knees, well, you ain’t got no heart. In short: the juju was there.

  3. I second lake Placid ’83. Also, let’s be accurate here, there is no D chord in Sugaree. Only B, E, F#M, A and C#M. Lyric Nazi = No, but Key Nazi = Absolutely.
    I can’t tell you how excited I was when the Lake Placid Sugaree was released on the 30 Days a couple years back. It’s the only selection I’ve ever been able to specifically identify in all the years of 30 Days. Have a nice day, everyone!

  4. Curtains should match the drapes.

  5. Sirius channel 23 has been playing some 94 lately, and you know I quit when Brent quit, and for the most part that may have been a good decision, a man needs to diversify at some time.

    But, that said, although I would like to think that any era that I skipped was a bad era, there is some gold to mine in the 90’s.

    Thanks Ste4ve.

    In regards to Sugaree however, I can not help but think that if The Travis, or Wolf had a favorite song, and a tone that allowed them to growl, and a song that favored that tone and growl I would think that Sugaree was a Wolf, or a Travis favorite.

    Makes me think we should have a quiz where you draw a line between song and guitar.

    Sugaree –> Wolf
    Terrapin –> Tiger
    Chuck Berry Tunes –> Travis
    Days Between -> Lightning Bolt
    Playin in the Band –> Tiger
    Morning Dew –> Wolf
    Stella Blue –> Tiger

  6. So 11/24/78 has 2 major black marks that prevent it’s consideration.

    -Bobby playing slide. Ew.
    -Garcia’s voice is completely shot.

    Still I’m obsessed with it for a few reasons a lot of it having to do with an excellent quality color youtube video
    -possibly in penance for the terrible voice, Garcia just wrestles those solos to the f’ing ground. It’s sort of a high point of his playing for me. He’s like – here’s a theme, here’s a variation, here’s another variation and another. He’s in total command.
    -that thing he does? He does it here.
    -Keith in full 78 coma
    – donna doing some groovy dancing.

    Now I’m gonna have to go watch it again.

  7. This is clearly not best EVAR, but its the only sugaree used in a Budweiser commercial:
    …selected, alas, to evoke a sad bar.

  8. NoThoughtsOnDead

    October 28, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    This post deserves consideration for inclusion in “best blog EVAR” because:
    • it would be funny even if the Internet didn’t contain a lot of lame blogging about music and musicians;
    • frank admission (“I am not being paid.”);
    • links to shows, clips, and a beer commercial; and,
    • fully-weaponized comments section.
    Congratulations, TotD; y’all don’t forget about the “Donate” button.

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