This is being written on a Mac. For my entire life, I had had PCs, giant towers of clicking, whirring parts made out of a special alloy that emitted pheromones to all the dust in the area; no mater how many times you cleaned them, they were always filthy within seconds.
Not that I treated the insides any better: I killed every machine in my presence, through a campaign of benign neglect and increasingly reckless ideas about the location of the line between “Relatively safe to download,” and “You’re gonna download this? What are you, an asshole?” Death could not have been more inevitable had you given a kitten to Keith Godchaux.
But the new machine is pretty and inside it are the souls of all the young Chinese women who threw themselves off buildings in its honor. (That’s one possible interpretation of reality. It’s more glorious to believe that than the fact that, to knock a couple of hundred bucks off a toy, we work people to death.)
The Dead and computers is a two-headed topic. There’s: How did the Dead use computers; and, How do we use computers to experience the Dead?
The band’s use of computers was the answer to a question that hadn’t been asked. No one–not one single person–was sitting through, say, The Other One from 1/22/78 and thinking to himself, “You know what would make this better? If Bobby was playing his part in a tinny marimba sound.”
Think of the boredom this MIDI nonsense tried to cover up. Speaking of TOO, they played it 600 times. picture that 450th time: it’s July in New Jersey, and they’re men in their 40’s singing about some guy they knew when they were 19. You’d be gagging for a flute sound, as well.
(And we have to stop calling things MIDI, too. MIDI is the language used to trigger the synth sounds; it’s like referring to the internet as the HTML.)
As for us, the computers have made being an Enthusiast just exactly perfect. Every single note the Dead ever played online, for your perusal and cataloguing. By now, we all should have heard everything and made up our top ten lists for every single song. It’s not like there’s a another version of Bird Song out there that’s even more mind-blowing, is there?
I’ll just check real quickly. Be right back.