Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: 1980 (page 1 of 3)

There’s Always One More

Here you go, Enthusiasts: this is my contribution. Previously, there were three pictures of Bobby in various stages of bunnification; now there are four. (I always figure if I haven’t seen a photo, then most haven’t. If that comes across as arrogant, well: consider the topic. It’s like bragging about Magic the Gathering. And plus I didn’t even claim to be the best at it, so it’s like bragging about coming in sixth at a Magic the Gathering tournament.)

The Grateful Dead, Younger Enthusiasts, didn’t do a lot of teevee. Possibly because the first time they were booked on a show, Playboy After Dark in 1969, they ended up dosing the entire building. But it also makes sense: there weren’t too many televised venues for any rock music back then. There was Ed Sullivan in the 1960’s, and the Smothers Brothers for a year or two, but after that the opportunities dried up. Pop stars were all over the dial, obviously, but not rock. Johnny Carson didn’t book bands at all until much later in his run. There was Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, and that was about it.

And then, in 1975, came Saturday Night Live. They had rock bands on, good ones and wild ones and sometimes things would go terribly wrong, which was horribly entertaining, and they had very hip taste. Tom Waits was on in 1977, and Sun Ra in ’78. The first four musical guests in ’78 were the Stones, Devo, Frank Zappa, and Van Morrison. (Zappa was actually the host, and that went precisely as well as you’d assume. It turns out that “doing sketch comedy with stoners” wasn’t in Frank’s toolbox; he and the cast hated each other by the end of the week.)

Week five was the Dead. The comedy writers Al Franken (who is now a Senator) and Tom Davis (who is now dead) were massive Deadheads and lobbied Lorne Michaels to book the band. He didn’t want to–the Dead were not very cool at the time, and certainly not Lorne Michaels’ New York-centric version of cool–but one has to believe that Al Franken can wear you down. Lorne must have liked them because he had them back the following year, and even let Billy be in a sketch.


Told you.

Contrary to Frank’s Zappa’s surliness, the Dead are affable fellows (and Mrs. Donna Jean) and made friends with the cast; Belushi and Ackroyd would do their Blues Brothers routine at Winterland with the band the night they closed the place down.

Phil may or may not have gone to town on Lorraine Newman.

A Deeper Shade Of Solstice

The Dead played Alaska only once, 6/19,20,21, 80 in Anchorage, which means they played Alaska three times. The shows were in West High Auditorium, which is a high school auditorium that seats 2,000; until 1984, it was the largest hall in the state and the Dead’s appearance there was not a show biz anomaly. Ray Charles and Ozzy Osbourne and Itzhak Perlman played West High Auditorium, too.

I posted the show from the 20th a while ago, so here’s the 19th. It’s a consistent run, and unlike most three-show stints there’s no clear winner, just three big, energetic, and boppy performances. The run would make a great box set, but–of course–it’s not in the Vault. Go listen, anyway: there’s the cowboy song, and the long song, and the song with just the drums, and the song about America, and the song about Jesus.

You don’t actually remember any of this show, do you?

I listened to 6/20 the other day and was going to post that, but I typed it into the “Tag” box and saw that I had already posted it. So I just flipped a coin between the 19th and the 21st. They’re all good.

The effort you put forth is staggering.

The ladies call me the Human Dynamo.

Rock, Band

I’d not seen this shot before. The other more famous and widely-circulated frames from this roll of film, yes, but not this one. Any day, any day at all, you could wake up and meet your true love, or step in front of a Honda, or you might see a picture of the Grateful Dead you’d not before.

There’s always a reason to wake up.


Get out of the picture, Rock.


Spot the Heineken(s).

Five Minutes, Mr. Garcia


Are all the lights set?
Yes, the lights are all set.
What about the sound?
It’s as good as we’ll get.

Where is the drummer?
I’ll try the bar.
And who’s seen the bassist?
He got into a car.
And where’s the road manager?
I think he got fired.
How about the keyboardist?
Napping: he’s tired

Is it hot in the hall?
Yes, it’s hot in the hall.
Tickets for that redhead?
Left with Will Call.

Is everything ready?
Yes, everything’s fine.
Then go get Garcia,
And tell him it’s time.

That’s What It’s All About


“Weir, knock it off.”

“I’m gonna take it out, Jer.”

“I didn’t mean to finish doing the hokey-pokey. I meant to stop doing it entirely.”

“I gotta shake it all about, Jer.”

“You really don’t, Bob.”

Happy Things

  • Puppies.
  • Puppy-shaped balloon animals.
  • Other animal-shaped balloon animals.
  • Coca-Cola from the fountain.
  • Wearing new socks for the first time.
  • The new Dave’s Pick should be announced any day now, I think.
  • The smell of grass after it rains.
  • The word for that is petrichor, which is a lovely word and therefore is also included in the list of Happy Things.
  • In parts of the world, albinos are snatched from their homes at night and hacked to death with machetes; you do not live in any of these places, and that should make you happy.
  • The next time you see an asshole weaving in and out of traffic, you should be happy; here’s why: you live in a society in which the overwhelmingly vast majority of people are behaving themselves on the road, and so the one asshole stands out; that you noticed his behavior and marked it as aberrant points to the general politeness of American drivers. (This is not applicable to Boston, as everyone in Boston drives like a complete asshole 100% of the time and there’s no upside to it, and there’s no perspective broad enough to see it as a good thing.)
  • Speaking of cars: sometime in the near future, you’re going to get the best parking space.
  • A stand of virgin spruce, or a field of sunflowers, or maybe a mountain or something: some nature shit, whatever you’re into.
  • Tacos exist, and you can get a good one for cheap.
  • Every single End-Of-The-World prediction up until now has been wrong; that should make you smile just a little bit.
  • Honestly, if you want to be happy happy, then you should listen to a Dick’s Pick or a ’73 or something; if you’d settle for listening to a Dead show, then 8/27/80 from Clarkston, Michigan is your best bet: it is acceptable.
  • Finding money in a pair of pant you haven’t worn in a while.
  • Finding money in a pair of pants someone else is wearing, and them not noticing.
  • This guy:
  • images_article_2010_05_20_shmoo_by_nickdraw
  • That’s the Shmoo.
  • Say it out loud and you’ll smile.
  • Go ahead, no one’s listening.
  • Right?
  • You’re welcome.

Fat Man In A Bathtub

jerry bathtub bw

Ya gotta turn–

“Get out.”

–the water on. I’m leaving.

Mister, Mix, Picks

We have, Enthusiasts, crossed a Rubicon. (I want to write a screenplay in which a character named Rubicon gets double-crossed.) Scientists used to think that the sound barrier was unbreakable, but Chuck Yeager thought scientists were pussies, and thus discovered the world beyond Mach 1. Knowledge accrues, and our understanding of the world grows. On the other hand, sometimes we gain wisdom and this just makes everything more damn confusing.

They didn’t used to speak. Have you read through the archives? You should. Guy from a magazine called me a genius for writing them, and I agreed with him; you will too. But they didn’t used to speak, and they definitely didn’t used to speak to me. Just little essays, or snatches of dialogue, and then one day Bobby started chatting with me, and the concept of semi-fictionality was born.

You’re talking about fan fict–



Sore spot?

I hate you.


I’m just going to continue and hope a frat boy eats your face. And while I was gleeful about making bullshit up as fast as I could type, and cheered at all the new characters I met, and inanimate objects that kept coming to life, I was wary of using Photoshop or any other picture manipulator to fuck with photographs of the Dead, or others.

Luckily, Spencer and others in the Comment Section made that decision for me, and I’m glad of it. Without the Ministry of Truth’s work (that’s what I’m calling all you wonderful liars now), we would not have this:


And I believe the world needs that, whatever the fuck it is, I don’t know, don’t ask me, I didn’t make it, blame Canada.

But now, Enthusiasts, we have reached a new world, like Rocky Balboa viewing the Pacific Ocean for the first time, and the midwife to this enbirthening is none other than Portland’s own local super-hero, Mr. Completely, also known as the Tree Octopus; he fights crime with his hectocotylus, which is a fancy way of saying “arm-dick.”

What this wild man has done is unprecedented in the history of man! [EDIT: Mr. Completely has made a mix tape. It’s a real good one, but it is not a brand-new concept. TotD regrets the error.] Mr. Completely’s Sick 80’s Mix is, I posit, the very first semi-fictional show: it follows the rules of a show from 1980, but never actually happened. (You know: there’s not a first set Dark Star or anything.)

Completely’s self-stated goal was to make the best show of 1980, perhaps for Enthusiasts not quite familiar with the underrated year, or for newcomers, or for hobos to kill time waiting for the Zephyr Express to come through the switching yard, or for pet owners to play for their animals while they run errands. I believe he has succeed: this is truly the best Grateful Dead show that never actually existed from 1980.

Listen. It’s great, plus he spent some effort making the transitions disappear; honestly, after a bong hit or two, you’ll forget it’s a mix entirely. Plus the LL>Supplication and the Sailor>Saint are among Bobby’s best work. I have no quibbles, except for the inclusion of High Time, but that’s a personal quibble and hardly worth mentioning, so let’s not even include it in the final accounting of quibbles.


EDIT: Oh my God, that motherfucker used different sources for the Lost Sailor and the Saint of Circumstances, AND I didn’t notice at all, AND he FUCKING PREDICTED it in his notes. I am awarding EotD (Enthusiast of the Day) to Mr. Completely. Congratulations, but please do not shake my hand because your arm is also your dick.

You Can Take The Berlin Wall, Give Me Stalin And St. Paul’s

Listen, Enthusiasts: I ain’t no fortunate son. Daddy wasn’t powerful, and Mommy was no trophy; you might have noticed a smallish chip on my shoulder (that I placed there deliberately, but let’s not get into that) about the opinions of the fancy and the shmancy.

But those swells up at that boarding school, the one with the dorm suite nicknamed The Fox’s Den? They just might have been right about the transition in the 11/30/80 Scarlet>Fire being the BEST EVAR, and will thus be the last of their kind put up against the wall when the revolution comes.

(Phil. The key is Phil, and the way he won’t let the chord resolve for an extra couple bars, so when they do all drop into Fire on the Mountain, it feels like your ears just came.)

Here Comes That Dangerous Man

Yes, it’s an AUD from 1980 (which is an underrated year), but the selling point from this recording of 6/8/80 at Folsom Field in Boulder, CO, isn’t the Dead: I haven’t listened to the Dead’s sets. The fun here, Enthusiasts, is the three songs tagged onto the end of the recording from that day’s opening act, Warren Zevon. Does he kiss up to the Dead during Werewolves? You know he does. Check out this recommendation from West Coast Promotion Man, Mr. Completely, and go strike up the band.

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