Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: Big Sky Country

Yo, Montana!

While MONSEIUR Lemeiuuxiueeixixeuux may endeavor to hide the truth from you–obfuscate, prevaricate, confibulate, and other words I may or may not have made up–there is one thing that even he and the shadowy figures behind Big Dead cannot cover up:

Montana is not actually known as “Big Sky Country” because of the grandeur of its scenery, no: the name stems from a 19th-century prospector and salloon owner named Kermit “Big Sky” Chesterville. Myths abound about the man: he was to the West what Mose the Bowery B’hoy was to New York. Seven feet tall and eight feet across, they say he was.

Montana legend says that Big Sky Chesterville carved the Platte River out of the ground with one swipe of his pick. People who aren’t from Montana will often reply politely, “Isn’t the Platte in Missouri?” Montana folks never been much for cartography: don’t hold with it.

When Big Sky would smile at the streams, the gold would glint and shimmer in the light. It would call to him and he could scoop it up in his mighty paws, dislodging boulders and fallen trees with his knuckles, each the size of a wagon wheel. His breath would rush from him in excited torrents; WHOOOOOSH and rise, rise into the huge blue empty, and swirl around, faster faster faster as the pressure drops; invisible tornadoes that eagles would come for miles to ride and they would call him by name in the fresculating light of the late afternoon: SKY! SKY!

He once got busy in a Burger King bathroom.

One April morning in 1883, Big Sky was whitewashing the prostitutes at the Gem Saloon when a bear walked in and that creature was just as big as Big Sky himself. It was a mama and she was ornery, one swipe of her paw sent the piano player’s head flying across the bar; the music stopped. Big Sky walked with purpose towards the grizzly and roughly took her by the scruff, loosening his belt with the other hand.

Big Sky made love to that mama grizzly that day, and he did it masterfully. He was gentle, he was forceful: most of all, he was present. The bear cooed at him and tried to cuddle, but Bug Sky sneered at her, threw a handful of salmon on the dresser, and told her to beat it. She tried to contact him, but Big Sky would never respond, and the bear ended up drinking herself to death.

And that’s the story of Idaho.

Montana.

Same bullshit.

 

Big Sky, Dark Star

The new Dave’s Picks, number 9 of what I hope will be an infinite series, has been announced. The Dead’s only Montana show, and it is am all-time, but perhaps underrated great: 5/14/74 in Missoula. This is in Big Sky Country, which has earned its name by having nothing in the way of an immense canopy of blue. I’ve seen pictures, and if I were there and ventured outside, I would immediately drop to the ground, clutching at shrubbery in fear of shooting upwards: falling to death in reverse, ever upwards.

Billy’s deft snare work and light hand cymbal was always what separated him from the common, thundering horde. Billy put the ‘b’ in subtle, and that was evident on the cowboy songs at this show, and they played fucking all of them. Bobby saw that sky and screamed, “Bobby the Kid RIDES tonight!” And then he leapt on the back of a hefty groupie and put his spurs (Bobby was wearing his spurs; this would be the last time it was permitted) into her sides. Except, you know: she wasn’t a horse, so she just had the wind knocked out of her and collapsed. Bobby skinned his knee.

And listen to 3.18 into the Weather Report Suite, when Garcia’s guitar chokes back a tear…

The PITB (I always hated that shorthand: my brain insists on pronouncing it like a Bronx Cheer) from Montana is a masterpiece, with a the band stretching out for hours in between Mrs. Donna Jean’s wails. Keith stays on the down-and-dirty Rhodes piano and Bobby plays flamenco flourishes until they completely whiff on the transition back into the song, each of them stuttering and deferring to the others, like Englishmen arriving at a door simultaneously.

The Dark Star is a ’74 Dark Star, and if you don’t know what that means, then I hope Billy punch your mother right in her dick.

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