Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: 1972 (page 1 of 8)

Francois’ Tower

Ah, gay Paree.

“I dunno about the gay part, but it’s definitely Paris, man.”

Tower gives it away.

“Yeah. It’ll be nice when they finish it.”

What now?

“Shh. We’re trying to convince Bobby that it’s half-built.”

It does look a bit naked.

“Well, yeah, man. It’s French.”

Speaking of which, how you guys doing with the ladies over there?

“Ah, man. You thought hippie chicks were hairy? Come to Europe. Billy gave up and started developing a relationship with his bidet.”

Clean, but sensual.

“You said it.”

I Got A Bob, You Got A Bob, Everybody Got A Bob

Ladies and gentlemen: the third Franco brother, Yup-Yup. James and Dave get most of the attention, but don’t sleep on Yup-Yup.

OR

Whenever Hunter would start talking about poems or whatnot and Bobby got confused, he would look in the mirror at his hair and feel all right.

OR

The building in the background looks (West) German, but the car right behind them looks like a Citroen. Any world-travelling Enthusiasts able to place this pic?

It’s The Same Ol’ Show

Loyal readers will know that TotD features show recommendations only rarely, and virtually never engages in any of that “on this date in Grateful Deadery” business, but I will now recommend a show that happened on this date. I am unpredictabel. (Not a typo. Just showing you the depths of my unpredictability.)

The Champion of Cascadia, Mr. Completely, described 8/24/72 at the Berkeley Community Theater as “pretty much the same show as Veneta, but the guitars are in tune;” this is an accurate observation, but I shall go him one better: this show is better than Veneta.

I will now prove my argument:

  1. No Ken Babbs. The delight of not having to listen to Chatty Crappy in between every damned song ordering people around and fingering himself to the sound of his voice real loud is a palpable and sensuous delight. Not hearing Ken Babbs gives me a boner.
  2. As I mentioned, the guitars are in tune. Or, you know, the Grateful Dead definition of “in tune.” And, obviously, Garcia still ends Playing with three strings sharp and three strings flat, but for the most part? In tune.
  3. There’s no such thing as the best Dead show, but if there were, it would have an intro by Bill Graham.
  4. Naked Pole Guy and his terrifying penis are in no way affiliated with 8/24/72.

Counter-argument:

  1. Veneta’s got that Dark Star>El Paso>Sing Me Back Home sequence. 8/24/72 has a massive Dark Star, but it goes straight into Morning Dew and loses a bit of rustic psychosis that the Veneta pairing had. (Fun fact: you can hear Garcia try to steer DS into Dew at Veneta two or three times, but Bobby pretends not to hear him and plays his cowboy song.)

Risible-argument

  1. Oh, so everyone you disagree with is a Nazi?

Dead & Company At Citi Field

When did Bobby dye his hair?

That’s Garcia.

No. Garcia’s dead. I had to explain this to Nephew, but I thought you knew. Oh, shit, I’m not breaking this to you, am I?

This attitude is why Pitchfork won’t hire you.

Fuck Pitchfork.

That attitude, too.

Dude, hop on the D & C train.

It’s not Dead & Company. That’s the actual Grateful Dead at Bickershaw.

Nonsense. It’s Citi Field. Look in the crowd to the left of the stage; you can see Mr. Met giving Oteil the finger.

That’s not Oteil.

He would totally wear that sweater.

Absolutely, yes. Still: no.

I don’t get you, man. What about this picture doesn’t scream “21st century corporate perfection” to you?

Every single thing.

Ah, I’m just funning with you.

It’s never fun when you fun.

What’s the most Precarious Lee part of this setup?

Ooh, good game. Let’s play. Hmm. Amateurs might say the oblique angle that the monitors are lined up at.

Amateurs.

A more seasoned vet would point out that Pig is literally behind the PA.

Well, it’s not like there was any room on the stage.

True. But the real Enthusiast sees Precarious’ handiwork in that super-taut wire leading to the speaker all the way up top on the right.

So many points of failure.

It’s amazing they’re all alive.

They aren’t.

I was funning with you.

Yeah, you’re right: funning isn’t fun.

I know.

Nudie, Nudie Minglewood Blues

Last shot of the Nudie Suits. (Is this Winterland?)

OR

Everybody’s favorite fun game: Spot Precarious Lee’s Work. Here’s a hint: it’s the monitors.

Nudielicious

Here’s another shot of Garcia’s Nudie Suit from behind; the outfit maintains the usual Dead motifs: skulls and roses and bullshit. Nothing says Grateful Dead like skulls and roses and bullshit.

Fuck it, might as well empty out the Nudie Suit library in one easy-to-find place. Here’s Bobby:

Is that a chicken? I think that’s a chicken. Here’s another of Bobby:

The son of a bitch just didn’t have a bad angle.

Say “Cheese.”

“Cheese!”

You look spiffy.

“Flash, baby.”

Awesome. This is Phil:

But you already knew that. (Check out the cowboy boots.)

This is a better shot of the weirdo Strat from late ’72:

This is 12/12, and he also played Numbers (I just named the guitar) on 11/22/72 at the Municipal Auditorium in Austin. We know this from this picture…

and this article.

I gotta be honest with you, Enthusiasts: this research horseshit is not for me. I’m exhausted. The president’s right: facts are for suckers.

And we finish up with a shot featuring both the Nudie Suit and the weird guitar. I brought all the threads together.

And you without a Pulitzer.

I know, right?

Live Nudies

The Nudie Suit experiment has never been properly explained; this sounds like a job for Lost Live Dead. There’s not many pics of The Boys in their suits, and they only wore them for a few shows: one (or more) of the Winterland run in December ’72, and then again at New Year’s. The outfits came out again 2/19/73 in Chicago, and then made their final appearance on 3/19/73 at Nassau Coliseum. (And not even for the whole show: everyone changed during set break.)

Wait, you’re saying. Those sound suspiciously like facts, TotD. You don’t traffic in fact and research.

Stop talking, I’d say, or I’ll throw myself out the window and you’ll never find out how the Little Aleppo story ends.

Wow, you’d reply. That got dark real fast.

And then I’d start crying. Are you happy? Is that what you wanted?

Stop this.

They did it. It’s all their fault.

Who is “they?”

Them.

Just stop it.

Fine. The dates from Winterland and Chicago may be wrong–I’m just going on Archive comments–but the Nassau show is a confirmed event. There is, Enthusiasts, evidence.

Look:

Bobby says in an interview that Garcia had his first, in fact had his before April of ’72 because he brought it to Europe with him (even though he didn’t have the balls to wear it onstage.) After March of ’73, though, they were gone forever. Phil still has his…

…and it still fits. (Phil went a little low-key with his, which I disagree with. What’s the point of a Nudie Suit if it can’t be seen from space?)

Who has Garcia’s? Gotta be worth something, more if it hasn’t been laundered.

But let me start at the beginning: 1902 was a terrible time to be born Jewish in Kiev. There’s never been a good time, but 1902 was worse than usual.

“Izzy?”

“Yes, Schmuley?”

“We should go somewhere where there aren’t Cossacks.”

“What is it with those guys?”

“They just seem to like hitting us with sticks.”

“And kicking.”

“Kicking, too. Let’s go to America.”

“You mean the Land of the Free, a country built on immigration that would never turn away needy and desperate refugees?”

“No, America.”

“Oh, okay. At least there’ll be jobs.”

“Sure.”

And so on.

One of these newly-arrived Jews was a young man named Nuta Kotlyarenko, who renamed himself Nudie Cohn and became a tailor, first in Minnesota where he met his wife Bobbie; they opened a shop in New York selling underwear to showgirls, and then moved to Los Angeles in the 40’s to make Western Wear. Spangles and frills and themes, and the last one is the most important: the key to the Nudie Suit is the theme. Anyone can slap some rhinestones onto a jacket, but a Nudie has a raison d’etre.

Look at this bullshit:

That’s some down-home bullshit right there.

That’s Porter Wagoner (right), and he was the first Country star to start wearing Nudie Suits; in fact, Nudie gave him his first suit for free, thinking it would be good promotion. It was. Soon, every male Country star had to have a Nudie Suit.

Hank Williams had one:

The notes represented his love of music.

Gram Parsons had one, too:

The drugs represent his love of drugs.

Every artist has a masterpiece, and Nudie Cohn was certainly an artist. His greatest suit of all time may have been both his simplest and his flashiest. You’ve seen it before once or twice:

“AH’M BACK!”

No, you’re not. Shh.

Anyway, Nudie Cohn died in 1984, but you can still get “Nudie Suits;” they make periodic comebacks adorning roots-rockers or alt-country acts. (You really can’t wear a Nudie Suit anywhere other than the stage. If you walk into a Taco Bell dressed like this, you will get gorditas thrown at you.)

Circling back to the Dead (this is about the Grateful Dead, remember), we still have many questions. Why would Garcia have had one in the first place? A Nudie Suit wasn’t an impulse purchase, nor could it have been a gift: they were hand-made, so you have to visit Nudie for measurement and fittings, and very expensive. And recall that Garcia got his before everyone else did, so it wasn’t a group decision. Garcia–in an entirely out-of-character move–bought himself a Nudie Suit out of nowhere? None of this makes sense. Bobby was the one who thought he was a cowboy. Someone explain this to me.

Like I said, the rest of the band thought it was a spiffy idea, so they followed Garcia down to the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, where Nudie’s of Hollywood was located, and fancied themselves right up. Bobby and Billy looked like this:

“I was gonna get skank on the legs, but I settled for pot.”

Quiet. This is not a dialogue post.

“Ah, suck my nuts.”

Great.

Even Keith had one, though there’s just this one black-and-white photo of him:

Poor Keith. He doesn’t want to be in a Nudie Suit. He knows he’s not pulling it off. Aw.

Much like the Farewell Shoes, Mrs. Donna Jean was not included. She did, however, wear a very fetching red number when the rest of the band payed dress-up. She looked like this:

Another alternate reality created, another unwritten future. What if they hadn’t learned to write songs? What if they buckled down and rehearsed and continued being the band they were in ’77? What if Brent didn’t die? And: What if they gave a shit about what they looked like?

Alas, it was not to be. The Nudie Suits were put in the closet, and the tee-shirts and jeans came out; in the 80’s, sweatpants and short shorts replaced the jeans. Never again would the Dead have “stage clothes.” But for a moment, they looked bitchin’.

Bundled Of Joy

Where the hell are you, Pig?

“Not America! Can’t make hair nor hide o’ one word these people saying!”

Do they sound angry or hoity-toity?

“Hoity-toity!”

You’re in France.

“The Pig don’t like it! I’m a damn California boy. How can a man sing the blues when he’s turnin’ blue? It ain’t natural!”

I agree. How you feeling?

“Not so hot.”

Ha.

“Yeah, I made a li’l joke. Nah, I ain’t so great. S’okay, though. Touring Europe’s just what the doctor ordered.”

Really?

“Hell, no, peabrain! Fact, the doc said to me the exact opposite thing! Was specific ’bout it, too! ‘Pig, whatever you do: don’t let no one drag you ’round Europe on a bus, and then make you stand out in the cold all afternoon.’ Wrote it all down on his pad!”

Well, what do doctors know?

“That’s right. The Pig’s schedule ain’t made by no sawbones!”

Seriously, though: you look cold. Do you want some cocoa?

“Aw, you know they don’t make it right over here. Probably all fancy.”

I’ll find you some Nesquik.

“And if you could rustle up some of them itty-bitty marshmallows, then I wouldn’t mind.”

Sure.

jerry-spotlight-bobby-phil-32873

Penduluminescent super troopers wrestle feedback gremlins in the balcony, while the ushers and the kids have ongoing discussions about the propriety of sitting on stairs, and the road crew barters for blowjobs backstage. The bathrooms need to be cleaned, cleansed, purified, all. In the concourse run round the loge, there is dynamism and torque, spooky action at such a far distance from the stage, where the next chord is a B minor.

Jerry, Lee(on)

jerry-leon-russell

So, there’s Doug Sahm singing on the left; all the way in back with the Strat is Leon Russell, and there’s our man Reddy Kilowatt standing behind the drummer because otherwise he would be able to hear the bass drum. I wanna say Buddy Cage is on drums, but I’m guessing, and also Buddy Cage might be black, but I also could be thinking about Buddy Miles. (I know Buddy Holly was white and Buddy Guy is black, but besides those two I cannot tell one Buddy from another.) You know the shaggy fellow on the pedal steel.

The violinists are Abigail and Zachariah Mumphree, twin virtuosos from Galveston who need to be separated lest they start fencing with their bows again.

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