There are, as always, rumors and scuttlebutt floating around the interwebs about the Dead’s 50th, and the plans for it. Ideas about residencies on both coasts, with select stadia shows, and headlining gigs at two or three of the big festivals. This is much better than some of the other concepts, including Mickey’s: he lobbied hard to sneak into people’s homes at night and throw raccoons at them while they slept. One of the business guys told Mickey that the insurance would just be too expensive, but the guy hadn’t called the insurance office: he just wanted Mickey to stop throwing chairs around the office.
As this is the Dead, things need a good complicating up, so the trial balloon of “rotating guitarists” has been floated. This is for logistic reasons, I suppose. Financial, also. Plus, Billy is in a fight with at least one of the guitarists. (That’s absolutely true.) The usual suspects: Steve Kimock, Warren Haynes. Trey is mentioned, because–you know–why the fuck not bring him into this debacle?
Ruler of the Northwest Realms and Dryer of Socks Mr. Completely saves the day yet again (with help from Gavin’s Dad and Little Umbrellas) with this list of the most inappropriate fill-in guitarists for the reunion:
10. Steve Vai
9. Neil Young
8. Jack Black
7. The Edge
6. Mid-80s Alex Lifeson
4. Johnny Ramone
3. Michael Kang (of SCI)
2. Ted Nugent
1. John Kadlicek
A few notes.
Steve Vai was chosen to represent the entire decade of wheedley-deedley shredding machines. He’s roughly equivalent to Joe Satriani, but he has better hair and–let’s never forget–ran out of notes to play on a six-string guitar and forced an otherwise sane guitar company to build him a seven-string.
What about Eddie Van Halen? you might ask. He would be tragically mismatched, you might say. True, but Van Halen afficianados (and I wear that label with pride, but ony when no one else is around or can see me) know a hilarious thing about Eddie: he can ony play Van Halen music. At quite literally any other style of music more complicated than a twelve-bar, he’s terrible and just ends up making noises with his guitar. So, Eddie would just give up fairly early in the set, but Steve would think he was fucking killing it and would be playing those solos of his that sound like air raid sirens getting raped all night.
Johnny Ramone and the Nuge would be worth the booking because the Dead would dose the living shit out of both of those mean-spirited little men and I would find that amusing. Also, if Johnny Ramone tried to play Terrapin Station, he would get a nosebleed.
I do not know what a Michael Kang is, but I wish him luck.
Slash would be the most interesting musically. He was always an awfully melodic player and he’s played with just about everyone. Plus, he had ten years of dealing with Axl’s bullshit, so he can handle Billy and Mickey no problem.
Speaking of getting along with people, Alex Lifeson is a Canadian, and a particularly affable one. Being the nice Canadian is impressive: it’s like being the guy Argentinians refer to as “the passionate one” or being known as a “yeller” in Vietnam. Much like the Dead, he favors stupidly complicated guitar rigs that never sound anywhere near as good as plugging a good guitar into a good amp. He’s familiar with weird time signatures. There’s the language barrier, sure, but David Lemountaindieux can translate. On the “minus” list: Alex Lifeson has not jammed in 40 years.
The Edge is terrible.
I’ll be honest with you: I have no idea why Jack Black is there. he’s not really a guitarist, but watching him over-emote Garcia’s tunes would be amusing briefly.
And then there’s Neil. Putting aside the fact that he might demand the Boys accompany him on a brand-new folk-opera about the Prairie Blizzard of 1883, or get in a fight with someone and stop showing up. (If Neil Young were both alone and paralyzed, he could still get in a fight with someone and then not show up.) Plus, he’d do that thing where he plays one note for the entire solo, which was clever when he first stole it from a black guy in 1968, but just looks like slacking these days. Also, Neil Young’s voice sounds like the screams of animals as they flee a cornfield fire.