Thoughts On The Dead

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

It’s A Set-Up

We are told that the triangle is the strongest shape found in nature, but triangles do not occur in nature. Lot of shit’s triangular–mountains are pretty trianglescent, for example–but no actual triangles. Spheres? Circles? Absolutely. Bees’ll do ya up a nice hexagon. But triangles? Nah.

And certainly not hairy rhombi, which is the configuration the Dead have assembled into here. The Mickey-Bobby and Phil-Billy-Garcia (hereafter known as MB and PKG) line segments are parallel and share a slope of +1 (roughly).  The rhombus is an inherently unstable shape, which is why the Egyptians did not entomb their kings in them. (Also, Ptolemy hated rhombuses. “Your name being spelled wrong is my thing,” the pharaoh would often say, to which his courtiers did not respond, as the joke only works in modern-day English.)

Which brings me to my thesis: the Grateful Dead did shit wrong.

Is that your thesis or an overarching theme?



Look at them. I mean, just look at them. Everyone is entirely off their kilter; perhaps no one had even been on their kilter at all that day. Besides the asymmetry–which would be bettered if Pig were in the shot–it’s the bocce court in between Mickey and Billy that’s the beauty bit.

You see those monitors? They’re not monitors. They’re speakers shimmed into position with some stolen motel Bibles. Monitors are wedge-shaped so you don’t have to lean them against stuff to get them into the right position, and in 1970 they didn’t exist. So you propped up some PA speakers, plugged ’em into the board, and fiddled with knobs until they didn’t feedback. That was about it. And they were just for the vocals, really; you heard your guitar through the nine giant amplifiers stacked behind you.

So, if you wanted to hear the drummer, you had to stand right next to the drummer.

But the mic was all the way at the front of the stage, so Phil had to run up Drummer’s Alley every time he had to sing. (Do you think he waited til the last second and sprinted up dramatically like the big-time Rock Stars used to do? Or was it a casual mosey? It was a casual mosey, wasn’t it?)


Whatever their current relationship, Phil and Billy used to be Shirt Buddies, and that’s how I’ll continue thinking of them.

1 Comment

  1. Mean, Green, Devil Eating Machine

    January 3, 2018 at 10:37 am

    There were only like two of those purple shirts. But, everybody wanted to wear one. At the end of the night, I would collect those, launder them, and put them and other shirts, in a box or a big bag. The next afternoon, the guys would reach in and pick out a shirt to wear that night. The purple shirts were made of different fabric, so they were easy to pick out from the other shirts, and the first picker would usually score. The whole purple shirt thing ended after a tour or three, most of them got lost, and I ended up with one, raggedy.

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