Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: 1973 (page 1 of 7)

One Of These Men Is Dead, And Yet We Are Informed That There Is A God

Psst. Hey. Garcia. Psst.

“Don’t psst at me, man.”

You gotta do me a favor.

“I really don’t.”

Please do me a favor?

“What, man?”

Keep that chick away from Harvey.

“I was planning on it. You see this look she’s giving me?”

That’s the look.

“That’s the look of love.”

Wasn’t that fun?

“Eh.”

OR

Garcia wore the fuck out of that turtleneck in late ’73.

Turtle, Horse, Cat

Billy?

“Ass?”

You’re white again?

“Had to switch back, man. I got pulled over nine times in an afternoon.”

That’ll happen.

“I wasn’t anywhere near a car.”

Yup. So, uh, why is there a picture of a horse crudely taped to your bass drum?

“Skank sees horse, skank thinks dick.”

Sure.

“Skank has a simple thought process. Salt of the earth. Know what needs salt on it?”

Popcorn?

“Meat. Specifically, mine.”

Don’t you have any other topics of conversation?

“I once punched both Gumbels in the dick.”

I’d almost rather talk about skank.

“Speaking of meat, you can find prime skank at the butcher’s shop.”

Like, ordering something in particular?

“Nah, not in the store. Out back feeding the stray cats. That’s choice skank right there, but you gotta watch out for toxoplasmosis. Then once you bang her, you can shit in a litter box.”

Wow.

“And that’s what America means to me.”

We’re done. Wait: who’s the chair for?

“Elijah.”

Now we’re done.

Fabulous

“Jenkins!”

“Yes, sir?”

“Did reality just hiccup?”

“I think we may have had a Time Blip, sir.”

“Y’know, just because you capitalize a thing doesn’t make it a thing.”

“Regardless, sir.”

“When are we?”

“1973.”

“Nice. Let’s go get Quaaludes.”

“Maybe later, sir.”

“1973. Ooh, this is exciting. Jenkins, you have no idea how sexist I’m going to be.”

“I think I do, sir.”

“Probably. But I won’t be yelled at for my actions in ’73. Good God, am I going to honk some boobies. Also systemic oppression, but I’m more excited about the honking. Gonna lude up and grab strange titties, and if she gets mad, everyone will tell her to stop being hysterical.”

“I’m still not seeing a difference between the eras, sir.”

“Can’t get ludes any more.”

“I was talking about the sexism, sir.”

“No sexism anymore, Jenkins. We elected a black man, so therefore women are equal. That’s science.”

“No, sir.”

“Political science.”

“Sir, don’t honk strange women’s boobs.”

“How else will the women know they’re attractive?”

“Sir, despite the chrono-shift, we still have work to do.”

“Boob-honking isn’t work, Jenkins. Not how I do it.”

“The poster, sir.”

“Poster! Now, you’re sure we’re in ’73?”

“Do we have a newspaper?”

“WUXTRY! WUXTRY! Read all about it!”

“There’s a paperboy right there, Jenkins.”

“How fortuitous. One, please.”

“Here ya go, mister.”

“Thanks.”

BANG!

“Sir, you didn’t need to shoot the paperboy. I had the dime.”

“But now you have the paper and the dime.”

“Ahem. Yup, we’re in 1973. Just look at these stories: President of the United States is an amoral, dangerous lunatic in serious legal trouble; racial tensions are high; Prince Charles is sitting around waiting for his mom to die. Yup, 1973.”

“Such a different time.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, as long as we’re not in 2017, the posters don’t have to be hideous, do they?”

“No, sir.”

“Well, then. Hire an artist.”

“Gladly, sir. Any ideas?”

“Not ugly.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And figure out a way to work the word ‘fabulous’ in there.”

“Yes, sir.”

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’.

The Least They Could Do

Perhaps as usual I’ve stumbled onto a theme for the evening: the rank unprofessionalism of the past. All of this–every single part of it–is unacceptable in today’s shiny and buffed branding exercise of a culture: the duct tape all over the piano, the circus tent, the plywood the plywood the plywood holy shit the plywood. No one even thought to order some tie-dyed curtains from Nighthawk to drape over the backdrop which, as I have mentioned, is just naked plywood.

So much unused space to announce corporate partnerships.

OR

Precarious?

“Yo.”

What are you doing?

“Checking the stage to make sure it won’t collapse.”

You think maybe you should’ve done that before the band got on it?

“Things get gotten to when I get to them.”

Okay.

“You all right?”

Took me a second to parse that sentence.

“You knew what I meant.”

I truly didn’t.

Horde, Tour

Younger Enthusiast, I cannot overemphasize how unprofessional the past was. In 2016, putting on a concert is a science, literally: people have written dissertations on the subject. (Okay, it’s a soft science.) But in 1973–and this picture is from the Watkins Glen Festival on 7/27/73*–no one knew what they were doing, ever.

The promoter of the show (Bill Graham) wanted to protect the band from numbskulls; he just didn’t know how. The high stage is only half the equation. You also need a moat filled with enormous security guards. Otherwise, as pictured, there will be boosting.

OR

At least two people in this photo are using cell phones.

OR

99% of being a Rock Star was enjoyable, but this bullshit? Here’s the analogy: one of you breaking in to my home while I wrote. Keith Richards was completely right to whack anyone who got onstage with his Telecaster.

Speaking of Rock Stars: the Dead’s crew were probably a little rough with the guys, less so with the girls, but if you pulled this shit on Led Zeppelin then you’d be dead.

OR

Thanks for the help, Number 12.

*Wait, this might be RFK. I don’t give a shit. It’s definitely ’73. Listen to the Watkins Gen soundcheck.

Things Stacked On Top Of Other Things

band-onstage-32873

Game time, Enthusiasts: let’s play Spot The Heineken.

Yeah, there it is.

OR

Sadly, Keith died before he could reap the publicity benefits of the “panorama” setting on phone cameras.

Awful Forte For A Piano

jerry-bobby-side-32873

Precarious!

“Yo.”

Keith is having trouble hearing himself.

“Yeah?”

“I could put a giant speaker a foot from his face.”

Good plan.

“Eh. Plan.”

Guitar, Solo

bobby-32873-bw

BACKSTAGE

“How long til he notices?”

“That it’s the set break?”

“Yeah.”

“Honestly? If he hasn’t by now, then he might not.”

“Sounds right. Crowd still there?”

“Guys went to the bathroom. Girls are still there.”

“That sounds right, too.”

A Day Like Any Other

jerry-spotlight-32873

“What is it, Jer?”

“C’mon, guess.”

“Jeeeer, guess.”

“It’s a duck, Weir. Stop making shadow puppets and play your guitar.”

“ZzzWHANGggg!”

“Phil.”

“BahkaDOOOOM”

“Phil.”

“NONGANONGANONG!”

“Just play your bass, man. Stop making the noises.”

“Bite me, Garcia. SHWURM!”

“What’s this one Jer?”

“It’s also a duck, Bob. You only know one shadow puppet.”

flump

“Did Keith just pass out again, Jer?”

“Just keep playing, Weir.”

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