They played The Eleven and Loose Lucy 98 times each. One song is more important than the other, but it is not the better song in any way.

The Eleven is more representative of Primal Dead than any other song, including Dark Star, for the simple fact that they kept playing Dark Star. DS kept popping up every few years or so, always reflective of the current makeup of the band: in the 60’s, it was a dark and speedy hellride; in the early ’70’s, it was jazzy and air-filled; in the late ’70’s, it was played in a hockey arena; and in the 80’s and 90’s, people were just happy that the song was being played at all. But they left The Eleven back in the nether reaches of the misty baroque Baby Dead.

They barely qualify as songs: Dark Star is just a head theme, then some lyrics, and The Eleven is just a party trick–Hey, look what we learned to play in! It’s not very subtle, either: it’s in eleven, about a list of eleven things, and called The Eleven. Perhaps they were auditioning for Sesame Street:

“Hi, I’m Billy!”

“And I’m Bobby, and we’re gonna teach you about the number 11, and the letter 7.”

“That’s ‘L.’ Why did we let the dyslexic guy do this? Hey, puppet-guy: c’mere.”

And then Billy punched the guy holding Grover in the nuts and then he punched Mr. Hooper in the nuts four, maybe five times. Mr. Hooper wasn’t moving after Billy got done with him. That’s really how Mr. Hooper died: Bill Kreutzmann, drummer for the Grateful Dead, dickpunched him to death.  David Gans is KEEPING THIS INFORMATION FROM YOU.

The Dead is no longer Primal by 1970. Mickey and TC would leave the band, everyone would watch one too many John Ford movies, and they would be in the next great phase of their run.Looking back, the Primal period was shouty and wobbly–the sound of a baby band.

But sometimes, the baby sounded like this.

P.S. Loose Lucy isn’t all that awful; it has a nice lope. It might have been a hit for .38 Special. But I don’t particularly care to hear Garcia talking about getting on top of ladies. Or, having ladies climb on top of him, which is, let’s be honest, almost definitely the case.