FROM THE DESK OF JERRY GARCIA:
To the Grateful Dead:
It pains and bothers me to write this open letter, but I have reached the end of my tether and an understanding needs to be reached. My point is simple: I do not know when nor why my microphone became communal property, but it needs to stop.
We are not that type of band–this is my first argument. We do not have stage clothes, nor stage moves. We stand there and play. Three of us don’t even stand, and if I could figure out a way to sit down: I would, too. There’s no running about or leaping; neither of the drum sets levitate and start spinning while shooting fireworks. We just stand there, so it looks weird when, having spent the preceding two-plus hours relatively motionless, one of you comes gooning towards me to harmonize poorly.
Another point: certain people have microphone privileges and the rest of you don’t. I shouldn’t have to explain this, but if a vocal mic has not been provided for you, that means you do not have mic privileges. It does not mean that everyone’s mic belongs to you. It also does not mean that you are allowed to yell ethnic slurs into your bass drum microphone, but one problem at a time.
We turn to the singers: all of you have your own microphones. If it breaks, you may alert the nearest member of the road crew, who will replace it. At no point is it ever necessary to shimmy up behind me and make like Bruce Springsteen and Little Steven. Besides it sounding terrible, your sudden appearance six inches from my face freaks me out every time. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but I am barely conscious and easily startled.
I here must make a small but urgent digression, and if nothing else from this letter sinks in, hear this: the drummers are never to sing anything ever anywhere. Was this not a rule? Perhaps this rule was not articulated because of its self-evidence. Neither of you are able to sing. You do not know the words (which, admittedly, has never stopped Bobby) and are prone to making up your own lyrics, which are always about sex and blood and sexy blood and bloody sex. (If these reasons were not enough, one of you–and I’m going to just come out and say it was Billy–tried to come up and sing with me and tripped over your drum kit, dismantling half the thing and then when Bobby came to help, you punched him in the dick so, you know: end of first set. Drummers can’t sing.
In conclusion: next person who tries to sing at the same mic with me is getting bitten on the nose.