Thoughts On The Dead

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

Six String Ringer

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

5. Slash

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.

Any thoughts?


  1. So many opinions I don’t know where to start, so:

    1. LeMountaindieux. Congratulations.

    2. Steve Vai, because I wanna see that fucker get Matt Kelly’d. Inevitably, he’ll make that sickening guitarface and I can’t imagine the boys will abide it.

    • 1. Thank you. I had thought that well dry, but there you go.

      2. I generally don’t advocate violence, but against Steve Vai, I’m gonna allow it. Also acceptable would be punching Nuno Bettancourt in the dick.

      • Yeah. It’s a frustrating disparity: I’m a nonviolent guy and even spiritually generous, but sometimes that only works when considering humanity in the abstract. Individual people can be ridiculous fuckers and sometimes need to be punched in their dicks. This will be codified more specifically when I am benevolent dictator.

        Also, I bought myself a shiny black SG the other day. Are they holding auditions or something? I’ve demonstrated a resistance to multiple drug toxicity, have my own car and have been described by several women as “surly” and “aloof,” so I believe I may be qualified.

  2. I think they should consider Mark Knopfler. He wears a headband.

    Or, if there is, as you imply, a need to ratchet up the tension to get the band more interested, why not go for Robbie Robertson?

    • You make an excellent point about Mark Knopfler’s headband. Would his brother have to come along?

      Robbie is hopefully not incuded in the Martin Scorsese deal because Micikey will no joke strangle that man.

    • There were talks, but Phil wouldn’t let him sing lead on “Broken Arrow,” and that was the deal breaker.

  3. Kim Mitchell.

    Nobody drowns, nobody dies.

    • This is the single greatest thing that has ever been.


      Why are people drowning? And slandering each other?

      • It’s an inside joke about legendary Vancouver underground musician Frank Soda. Nobody gets it. Also on the same album: “Lager and Ale” Also, Mothers Against Drunk Driving used this as a theme song and Kim was like “Why bother explaining the joke? I don’t even get it anymore”. But actually, much like Jerry and Bob Hunter, Kim had a nearly career long lyricist named Pye Dubois who kinda looks like Hunter. But instead of trains and gunfights and gambling he wrote about sodas and patio lanterns. Very Canadian.

  4. Ooh! I’m ripping Peepot off, but Mojo Nixon. I love Mojo Nixon and he’s the opposite of Steve Vai. He’s also fat, hairy and usually seen in flannel.

    Knopfler might actually kick ass in the Fake Jerry seat.

    The only Fake Jerry I’ve really liked so far has been Kimock. Warren doesn’t do it for me, and I’ve been to his orchestral show twice due to a miscommunication.

  5. Warning: “Go for Soda” is possibly the most infectious earworm ever.

    Even more than “Victim or the Crime.”

  6. pleas watch the video for “go for soda”, if only for the recedo mullet on Kim

  7. my choices for fake Jerry

    Jim Campilongo
    Bill Frisell
    Stephen Malkmus
    Doug Martsch

  8. Hate to break it to you, but Johnny Ramone’s been dead for 10 years now. Personally, I think the Ramones and the Dead are the two greatest American bands of all time.

    I’ve always been a big Jimmy Herring fan.

    Most inappropriate but they might do it – John Mayer

    • Johnny Ramone died!? How are Joey and Dee Dee taking it?

      • Do you know the joke about Buddy Rich’s widow?

      • A horn player who had been playing with Buddy Rich for many years came back from vacation to hear a rumour that Buddy had died. He didn’t quite believe it, so he phoned Buddy’s wife and said “Can I speak to Buddy please?” Buddy’s wife said, “I’m sorry, Buddy passed away last week.” “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” he said, and hung up. A couple of hours later, he called her again. “Is Buddy there please?” “No, I’m sorry. Buddy’s no longer with us,” said Buddy’s wife. And hung up the phone. Ten minuted later, he called Buddy’s wife again. “Can I speak to Buddy please?” he said. She recognised his voice, and said: “Look, I’ve told you before, BUDDY’S DEAD!” And slammed down the phone. Two minutes later, and the phone rang again… “Is Buddy at home please?” the horn player asked. Buddy’s wife was furious. “I’m not going to tell you again, Buddy is dead.. D. E. A. D. DEAD. Why do you keep ringing me to ask for Buddy???!!!!” He thought for a moment, and said: “I just love hearing you say it.”

      • Hard at first, but life goes on. Joey & Dee Dee decided to retire the name “The Ramones” but reunited and hit the road the next year as “The Ram-Ones” with the clone from Green Day on guitar. Things got so good that Linda Ramone ended up back in Joey’s sack saying, “I don’t know why I left you for that Republican asshole.”

  9. Keith Richards because: They could just make a cardboard cutout of the guy, make it nod every so often, have a guy behind the back line do all the work and nobody would know the difference. Besides, the guy simply will not die. Ever.

  10. Maybe Weir could gain 40 pounds and just move over a space. Then they could get Sheryl Crow to be Bob.

  11. Curt Kirkwood would be awesome.

    Will Oldham and Emmett Kelly? (The guitar player, not the sad clown.)

    That skinny hippie guy who sang “Mission in the Rain” in that Move Me Brightly thing was pretty great. Jim Lauderdale was too. And Cass McCombs. They could do a lot worse for vocals. So who would play guitar?

    Danny Gatton or Roy Buchanan but they, in addition to being fine guitar players (as was Garcia), are similarly dead.

    Johnny Marr! Except that wouldn’t work, not at all.

    Ooh, ooh! I’ve got it!!

    Damn, I forgot. But it was perfect. And it was not someone who’s ever played KindFest (that’s a thing right?) or won a Bammie.

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