Time hates us and it most certainly hated Them. One third of them, let’s not forget, kicked the living shit out the actuarial tables by dying at 27, 32, 37, and 55. Y’know that scene from the beginning of every movie that requires the hero to go through some sort of training where the sergeant goes, “Look to your right. Look to your left. Now some pelvic thrusts that really drive you insane.” You know the scene I’m talking about, but the thing is: the Dead could have done that. There’s a lot of non-metaphorically dead people in the band.
If the Grateful Dead hit curveballs the way they killed people, they’d bat third.
But time is cruel to the GD obsessive, as well. I decided to listen to Spring ’77. Not parts or highlights or a general overview slapped together from gratefuldeadprojects and the top hundred lists on DeadBase or whatever.–
(Not that those two sites aren’t wonderful giant black holes of time and sanity that you visit and look up from a week later, having listened to, say, “Liberty,” over and over to truly give the song its chance rather than judge it prematurely. (Of course, no matter what length of time you spend with”Liberty,” it is exactly as awful as every other time. No mater how they play it, or how long it takes, or whether they blow they lyrics or not: each version is exactly as awful. It’s constant, like the speed of light.))
–but every single note the Grateful Dead played in the Spring of 1977.
I didn’t have a ton of tapes as a younger Enthusiast of the Musical Stylings of the Rock Combo The Grateful Dead. (I shall not call myself that word. I own no tie-dye. My hair-cut is respectable. I get waved through at borders.) Mostly it was stuff my friend Glenn had copied for me. Glenn might have been the perfect proselytizer for the band: he was a taper, always had really good weed, and his parents did that “better to be screwing around in the basement than out in the streets” thing.
So, I only owned like a dozen. To this day, I will defend 9/10/91 as one of the finest shows every played, mostly because I’ve heard it 8 billion times.
Now, it’s become some sort of contest between me and the shows, trying to listen to as many of them as I can, while the shows try to make me go back and listen again or, worse, multiply.
And the thing is, 9/10/91 actually was very good.