Thoughts On The Dead

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

Grateful Dead Confessions

  • Don’t know if I’ve listened to several of their studio albums; I might have heard, say, In The Dark by accident at someone’s house, but I didn’t buy them back when you had to buy music, and I haven’t stolen them now that they’re free. (Definitely listened to: American Beauty, Workingman’s, Aoxomoxoa. The rest are maybes.)
  • If the song was introduced post-Brent, I do not know it. At the Farewell Shoes, I had to ask whether Liberty had always been a Bobby song. Don’t get me started on Wave To The Wind. I wouldn’t know Wave To The Wind if I fell over it. Samba In The Rain? I mean: I know how a samba goes, so I could guess at the song’s basic rhythm, but I couldn’t sing the fucker for you.
  • I can’t remember anything past basic and acontextual flashes from any of the shows I went to.
  • High Time still ain’t doing it for me.
  • The “real” lyrics don’t matter to me: I still sing “flashing my keys out on Main Street.” The guy in the green suit without a face–the Doo-Dah Man–is standing beneath a neon arrow, he’s got his keys on the end of the chain that was worn with a zoot suit, and he’s twirling them around like a lifeguard with his whistle. Everyone knows this.

What are yours? Confess your sins, Enthusiasts, and we will be merciful. Don’t make us drag them out of you. We have dragons. For dragging.

Why are you speaking in third person?

It sounds eviller.



  1. I used to sell Garcia chocolate doughnuts.
    So many chocolate doughnuts.

  2. The Central Shaft

    August 1, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    The dancing bears, the gamboling terrapins, the strolling skeletons a la Luke Walton’s bad tattoo … basically all the iconography other than the One True Stealie can burn in hell for all I care.

  3. Terrapin is a boring song.

    • Thoughts On The Dead

      August 2, 2017 at 12:14 am

      Now THAT is a good confession.

    • The first half of Terrapin, particularly. Those chords used to be my cue to dash for the bathroom. I had to revise this m.o. in later years as it became impossible to navigate through all the feverishly whirling spinners during the F-Lydian jam when I got done peeing.

  4. Forgive me for these..

    I bought “Bobby and the Midnites”

    I saw “Bobby and the Midnites”

    Pig Pen singing about his girl being a motor car revved up and ready to go, or singing “The Rub” I hate that. Most PigPen outside of Easy Wind, I can do without.

    I don’t believe Spanish Jam is a “thing”

    • Thoughts On The Dead

      August 2, 2017 at 12:20 am

      Spanish Jam is most certainly a thing. It’s a non-varying sequence of chords distinct from the music around it. Absolutely a thing. If Spanish Jam isn’t a thing, then the Mind Left Body Jam isn’t a thing, and I know you’re not saying that.

  5. Ive pressed skip on dark star alot in the last few years

    Ive come to love picasso moon

    Despite having countless tapes, a robust and xarefully curated collection of well tagged flac shows and access to i mostly listened to official releases

    Naked poll guy manages my IRA and has gotten me into some high performing mutual funds

  6. i love the studio album version of terrapin.

    i used to hate drums and space, and spent that time going to the bathroom and roaming around outside of the show itself, watching the spinners and “waiting for the music to start again.”

    i too saw bobby and the midnites. but didn’t much like them. i saw jgb a few times, and i did like them.

  7. drink all day and rock all night

    August 2, 2017 at 2:11 am

    Never dropped acid… or ate shrooms. I figured I couldn’t handle it. And I’m guessing if you think that going into it, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
    Weed and beer worked well enough for me though (and still does). But I know it’s not the same.

  8. I saw “Seastones” live – twice – in October 1974 at Winterland. OMG that was awful. Talk about waiting for the music to start again! During the hiatus I saw Kingfish a couple of times and thought they really weren’t bad. I even owned the first two Kingfish LPs. I might have owned the Bobby & the Midnites album too.

    I thought people were idiots for yelling for Jerry songs at Kingfish shows, but then I saw the JGB far from its home turf (Santa Barbara – go Banana Slugs!) and people yelled for Bobby songs.

    On the plus side, JGB with Nicky Hopkins at Keystone Berkeley – that was a fantastic show.

    Speaking of confessions, I just read the lyrics to Truckin for the first time. I sure had those mangled in my mind for the last 45 years. No wonder Bobby could never remember them.

  9. I do not like Brent.

  10. I never liked the Bobby sings the blues songs in first set. Wang Dang Doodle, especially Little Red Rooster. I don’t know why.

  11. I hate Phil’s voice

  12. I like “France.”

  13. I was happy when Keith and Donna left the band and regretted their ouster as soon as Brent started singing his own songs.

  14. I still listen to CDs in the car. I burn them myself. With some exceptions, I like my shows to fill up only 2 CDs, not 3 CDs with one CD only having 20 minutes of music. So to accomplish this, I cut out Drums/Space. If that’s not enough, I leave out some Bobby songs (Rooster, Walkin Blues, Des Row, Same Thing, Victim or the Crime etc). I never skip the cowboy songs though.

    Songs I have never burned to a CD: Corrina, Samba in the Rain, Picasso Moon, Easy Answers, Broken Arrow

  15. when I sing along I sing the Donna parts. even if it’s not a Donna show
    not every song needs a Garcia solo
    I recall being at the two shows I saw, but that’s it
    the band did not improvise nearly as much as they say they did

  16. allthebeerscombine

    August 2, 2017 at 9:45 am

    I fell asleep at more than one JGB show in the late 80’s. Tangled up in blue has so many, many verses.

  17. ‘Days Between’ is a better Bobby song.

  18. I once had the opportunity to buy Pigpen’s minibike for $100. Running with provenance intact. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t pull the trigger. If I had, I’d now be known as “the guy who rides the minibike everywhere”.

  19. I feel hustled after buying Get Shown The Light. A little dirty, even. I turned off a live concert feed on the radio in Detroit in 1972 after 10 minutes of incomparably bad playing. I still love Donna, especially the way she sings the word “river.”

  20. Donna Jean Band’s “Back Around” (w/Jeff Mattson) is a more enjoyable listen than any release I’ve heard from the other GDs since Jerry’s passing…maybe since “In The Dark,” even.

  21. Just finished listening to DP 23 and was underwhelmed by the Garcia Close Encounters rendition.

  22. I think Phil is a stunningly poor singer.
    I often skip past Drums>Space.
    I strongly prefer Brent songs to Pig songs.

  23. Luther Von Baconson

    August 2, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    I too have considered dying my hair & beard a Sultry Copper.

  24. I’m lukewarm at best on pre-1970. Good jams, but I find the later stuff to be way more dynamic and interesting.

  25. For the past five years or so, I’ve been listening to every single show that’s out there on the internet. In chronological order.

  26. I think the food a Phil’s joint is actually pretty good. And reasonably priced.

  27. First set Row Jimmy was always a buzz kill for me.

  28. i have zero interest in anything post-jerry. It sounds competent, but no thank you. Life is short, listen to the dead.
    The studio albums on the whole are good and invite a listen every once in awhile.
    i haven’t pinpointed the date, but by (i’m guessing) late 1994, vince was contributing extremely competently. I don’t really care for it, but that is the case.
    i like samba in the rain, but i am not really a fan of vince.

  29. Weary from the road, I dozed off at more than one show.

    To my ear, drums sounds better with Dead & Co. than it ever did then.

    I think every song Donna sang on is better for it.

    Bobby’s cowboy tunes tended to bore me; they do now as well.

  30. I saw maybe 15 shows or so towards the end 93, 94, 95 all West Coast and some JGB shows at the Warfield. But the best show I was at was the Polo fields for Jerry’s passing. I think Dick Latvala was playing shit on the Dead’s system and I remember having the distinct feeling that we were in a bubble ship in a reality next to earth and I didn’t ever want to come back. That’s when I got it.

    I just remember walking around at the other shows and seeing the band play and thinking- there is no music! They are miming playing to fuck with me. Just some tennis shoes in the dryer drums and no other sounds. And these other folks who are losing their minds are in on it!

  31. i imagine that now we all feel better! maybe catholocism is smarter than i thought.

  32. Fennario Timber

    August 3, 2017 at 12:25 am

    I once met Delilah Jones in a small general store in Bigfoot County, when I saw her eight boys I instinctively knew which one was the “bad” one but I didn’t say anything and years later that boy grew up and cut his buddy down, I could have at least warned her but I’ve got two good eyes and I still don’t see.

  33. SmokingLeather

    August 3, 2017 at 1:29 am

    When I was young I liked the skull and roses better than the Stealie.

    Also that I am such a Grateful Dead nerd that I know that the “real” name of the Stealie is ‘Laughing Jack’ which can be confirmed on Owlslys website

  34. Thoughts On The Dead

    August 3, 2017 at 2:02 am

    These are wonderful confessions. Now someone tell me about the spouse they killed.

  35. I know someone is suppressing a crazy story from a van. I’ll settle for a parking lot one though.

    • SmokingLeather

      August 3, 2017 at 4:10 am

      So the three of us are driving down the road, heading east, and I’m asleep in the back of the van. I wake up to “light a cigarette, we’re getting pulled over and we just smoked a joint.” So I light up and the big hippie driving says to the littler hippie in the passenger seat “I don’t have a license, so I’m going to jerk the wheel really fast to pull over then I’m going to go over, and your going to go under.” And that is what happened. The cop even let us go with a warning.

  36. The so-called “Drums and Space” was a misbegotten musical direction when it became a staple of the second set. Maybe it was so that the musicians could take a pee (sorry drummers), but geez, what a bore.

    Sorry, Mickey, but the two drummers thing stopped working somewhere in ’68. Ok, I’ll spot you the occasional Other One. But seriously, who needs two drummers on Sugaree or Big River? The Allmans made it work, usually, but the Dead? Not so much. Yes, I am a ’72 Truther.

    The is one song that I’d keep, post-Brent, is “Days Between”, though I’m not sure that the Dead ever really did it justice. Even so, it’s a great Hunter lyric, and the mournful arrangement suits tone well.

    The people chanting “Let Phil sing” don’t know anything about singing. That being said, he’s entitled to sing anything he damn pleases, in my book. Bobby too.

    MIDI was a bad discovery for Jerry. It just seemed like fucking around with sounds for the purpose of fucking around with sounds, and not for making good music.

    Brent never did it for me as a keyboardist. Sure, he was a better singer than Keith, but where was he in the lead-in to the outro of Playin’, I ask?

    • I’m pretty certain that ‘let Phil sing’ was just a goof on Bobby, like how the ‘god squad’ would sit down when Bobby sang.

  37. The more I listen, the more emotional the songs are to me, to the point where I tear up regularly.

    • Luther Von Baconson

      August 3, 2017 at 11:00 am

      me too. though i dismissed it as “going through the change of life”. which i guess is true also.

      • SmokingLeather

        August 3, 2017 at 1:43 pm

        I cry at a LOT of the Little Aleppo story as well. I cried so hard over the temple fire, that my wife made me explain what was up. So in the middle of sobbing out a plot synopsis, with tears running a river down my face I find myself saying “Flower Childs is a bitch, or at least is considered to be, because she’s the first female fire chief in The Neighborhood and she took over from a very charismatic, well that’s not important right now I guess,” SNIFF ” just that she’s an established character who wanted to be a firefighter since she was a little girl, in a time when…”

  38. I got popped selling undelivered newspapers as a kid by my boss, figured it was better than littering them in a ditch? it was the beginning of a life of crime. Keep up the great work TOTD!

  39. I’ve never gotten the allure of any of the following:

    JG Band
    Fare Thee Well (as )
    the Arista albums
    the Hornsby-less Vince era
    Phil’s live vocals after about 1973
    Jerry’s live vocals (by and large) post 1980 acoustic run
    The Electric sets during the 1980 acoustic run

    Caring about who gets what of Garcia’s guitars after he died

    On the other had I also confess I have a VERY soft spot for:
    the entirety of the Keith and Donna era
    the ditto of the Hornsby era
    and I care entirely TOO MUCH about which ExWife/wives a given author got to interview in order to write his book

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