Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: david browne (page 1 of 2)

Playing In The Paisley Park

Reading time, Enthusiasts, but also looking. Reading is lovely, but exhausting, and sometimes you’d rather just look.

Let’s see what we’ve got in the sack: there’s the indispensable Lost Live Dead with a chronology of the Dead’s free shows, but not just a dry recap, no: Corry wouldn’t do that to us. There’s stories and subtle sarcasm, and as always a grounded reading of the Dead’s actions, rather than any airy-fairy “the music should be free” bullshit: the Dead certainly enjoyed playing surprise shows in the park as a goof, but they mostly did it to build a fanbase, and the moment they realized that broadcasting their shows on FM radio was even more efficacious and required less effort, they did that.

Dressing up in spangled clothing and rehearsing your dance moves is the opposite of the Grateful Dead, but pretty much everything Prince did was the opposite of the Dead. (Prince did not allow a Taper’s Section, and if some hippies had named an ice cream flavor after him without his permission he would have had his lawyers firebomb Vermont.) The Purple Rain tour was massive–stadiums only–and FoTotD David Browne has assembled the recollections of all involved and shared them with us. Lucky us.

For your looking pleasure, there are photos included in both of the articles. Did you think I was going to find things for you to look at? Jesus, you’re lazy.

Bobby, Browne

Two new Dead-related items from FoTotD David Browne winging over the transom today, Enthusiasts, and you should go read them; the first is about the Dead playing the grand opening of the North Face store in North Beach, and two important things happened that day.

First: this was the Dead’s first corporate gig. Later on, they would do Levi’s commercials, and sell ice cream, and a veritable Wall of Merch; every one of these ventures caused Deadheads to accuse them of selling out, but true Enthusiasts know that the Dead began selling out the very instant anyone offered them any money. (Although, North Face could be seen as “clean graft.” It was hip and chic and snow-bunnies and apres-ski were big back then, so it wasn’t like hawking toothpaste or anything.)

Second: this may have been the first time the Hells [sic] Angels were used as security, and that turned out to be a miscalculation down the line.

(The article is in Men’s Journal, and after ten minutes of poking around the site, I have come to a conclusion: men don’t like being outdoors as much they like buying geegaws to facilitate being outdoors.)

The other piece is in Rolling Stone, and it’s an interview with Bobby. There’s an illustration that goes with it, and the artist was laboring under the delusion that he was working for the Wall Street Journal. Look:


Right? Like he’s written an op-ed about the primacy of copyright law, or how climate change can best be cured via the free market.

Now, do I accuse David Browne of things? Yes, of course, obviously. I could not accuse the man more vociferously; there is much vocifer in my accusations. Was I discussed? I was not, Enthusiasts, though I found several allusions. (You can find allusions to yourself in anything if you’re crazy enough.)

There is an interesting exchange, though, in which Bobby talks (just a little, and obliquely) about the rumors of waywardness and dipsomania that sprung up that year he kept falling over in public. Bobby brings it up first, and then David asks him about it, and then Bobby starts talking about 1972. Go read it; I’m not lying.

All The News That Fits, Plus Whatever The Fuck This Nonsense Is


Never let it be said that Rolling Stone is not still a bastion of journalism. What about the guy who wrote Monster Mash? Who’s he voting for?

BUT, you should go read the great David Browne’s latest article about the royal purple clusterfuck that is Prince’s estate. (WARNING! AUTO-PLAY!)

We Want The Airwaves

Two pieces of news on this Sunday, Enthusiasts:

  1. Tales from the Golden Road, the long-running Grateful Dead radio show on SiriusXM’s channel 23 hosted by David Gans (co-author of This is All a Dream we Dreamed)and Gary Lambert, will be a FoTotD party today: Jesse Jarnow, author of Heads, and David Browne, author of So Many Roads, will be appearing on the show at 4 o’clock today (Eastern). They’ll be taking calls, and if you’d like to phone in and bring up, say, poop on the bocce courts or magical highways or a sentient PA system, then that would be cool. Even cooler, you could buy all of their books in the sidebar.
  2. TotD will not be covering the Beyoncé album.

The Only Thing That Could Distract Me Today Was Me

The softcover version of So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead by the great David Browne is coming out, and you can buy it here. even if you have the hardcover, you should spend a couple more bucks and get this version: there’s a new chapter on the Farewell Shoes, plus–and here’s the important part–a blurb on the back cover from yours truly!

Check it out:


And if that’s not reason enough to lay your Tubman down, then look at the expanded love TotD gets in the front of the book:


If we’re being completely honest, I would have preferred the People blurb to separate Steve Silberman’s quote and mine; certainly not out of animus: it’s an honor for my words to appear on the same page as his. But, Jesus: Steve’s quote is all grown-up sentences and Rashomon references; he sneaks a “hitherto” in there!

What do I have? Idiosyncratic punctuation and “purchase the fucker.” Someone nail a dunce cap to my skull and push me into traffic.

We end on a high note, though, in that TotD is now anticipating a large payday from Mr. Browne or his publisher. Exhibit A, Enthusiasts:


I have told you this before: I stole choogle first. I stole it fair, and I stole it square. It’s my word now.

Also, Bobby owes me money for the “Let Trey Sing” shirt, and Peter Shapiro still owes me 50 bucks from the webcast I purchased but did not watch.

Why are you still here? Go purchase the fucker.

The Assassination Of Julius Caesar, As Recreated Using Books About The Grateful Dead

What’s wrong with you? Honestly; no joke: what is your problem?

There’s not just one.

No. Ran out of steak knives?

Why would you need more than one steak knife? How many steaks can you eat at a time?

Sure. Please stop doing this.

It’s educational!

Yeah, but not about the thing you think.

I shot according to the Dogma 95 rules, except I made the toga out of paper towel. And I didn’t have a purple marker, so I drew the stripe with the red and blue ones at the same time.

Again I repeat: what is wrong with you?

Besides the fact that I put society on trial every damn day?

Yeah, besides that.

Little bit crazy.

Yeah. Plug the book.

You mean the latest in the acclaimed 33 and a Third series written by the great Buzz Poole about one of the only halfway decent records the Dead ever made, Workingman’s Dead?

Yes. Stop making weird videos.




I’m suing.

What is it now?

I was given no input.

Into the blurb on the back of David Browne’s So Many Roads, available for pre-order in softcover right over there on the sidebar?


Just wanted to know what we were going to be getting wrong.

That was some good book-pluggin’.

I do what I can. Anyway: what’s the problem? Do you feel the blurb was taken out of context and misrepresents your feelings about the book?

Not at all. Loved the sucker. Gonna do a whole day on it when I get my softcover copy.

Why are you such a whore for free books?

I like it when the UPS guy comes. It makes me feel important.


Here’s the thing: I can beat that. I can do better. David Browne should have given me another crack at it. I’m not going to ask him to have the whole run of the softcover pulped.

That’s good.

I shouldn’t have to ask: he should do it because it’s the right thing.

It’s weird how you think networking works.

Hey, Norman Mailer used to headbutt people at parties.

Are you comparing yourself to Norman Mailer?

Norman Mailer was a fraud and boor and plus he had curly hair. Never been a good writer with curly hair.

I actually can’t think of one.

Comment Section will come up with it.


I just wish he had asked. I have a whole bunch that are much more complimentary than the one he used.

Such as?

“David Browne’s So Many Roads cured me of cancer. I had face cancer and then I made out with So Many Roads for fifteen or twenty minutes, and then I didn’t have it anymore. The cancer.”

Holy shit.



That was a warm up.

Take your time, but let me interrupt to mention that David’s book is immediately to the right.



Oh, there.

If you’re gonna screw around, then I’m not playing. If you have a good blurb, then let’s hear it.

Fine. “If Garcia were alive, he would love So Many Roads, but it would have a different last chapter.”

That’s a bit dryer than called for by the blurb form, don’t you think?

Yeah, maybe. Okay: “So Many Roads has all the stories a Dead Book is legally required to have, but also a lot of new stories, and they are written well; there are pictures, too.”

That’s not a blurb, that’s a statement of fact. Blurbs are effusive.

You’re right: “YAAAAAAAAY”

Too effusive.

I’m trying to calibrate my effusion here, man.

Neither of those.

Try this: “Within the pages of David Browne’s So Many Roads is a series of clues that when deciphered lead to treasure.”

Is that true?

Well, I didn’t ask David, but I would assume it wasn’t.

Then you can’t write that.

Why not? It would sell a ton of books!

It’s a felony. I’m not sure which, but one of them. Maybe several.

Fine. Better idea: “So Many Roads is only a book about a semi-defunct choogly-type band on the outside. This book is actually the LOST TWILIGHT NOVEL!”

Same felony, chief. Can’t do that. Exact same concept.

I like it when you call me chief.

Are we almost done?

One more: “Buy this book or I’ll hunt you down and stab you in the asshole with a pen.”

Yeah, we’re done.



“The superfluous “e” in David Browne’s name stands for ‘Excellent book about the Grateful Dead.'”

We’re done.

A List Of Demands For David Browne

  1. My blurb is the top blurb. I’m aware that you’ll have to include others’ opinions and plaudits on the cover, but mine will be the best, or at least have the fussiest punctuation: I get to be on top.
  2. I would also like my blurb to go on the front cover, in full. This may require removal of the band picture, or possibly the title of the book, but demands are demands.
  3. My picture must replace yours in the softcover release of So Many Roads, wherever it is. (The author picture wanders all over the place on softcovers). This is not personal: you are a handsome man with rugged features that project power; you also have what looks to be a butt-chin, and everyone knows my feelings on butt-chins. Still: let’s change the picture.
  4. The fact that my blurb will only be printed in English is Angliconormative and therefore offensive. I demand that my blurb be translated into Spanish, French, Urdu, all the Chineses, and Canadian. (I will rewrite my blurb to make it appear as though your book is about Rush.) Furthermore, the blurb is to be translated in Russian, but deliberately badly. Russia’s getting on my tits lately.
  5. One chapter in the text of the book. Let’s call it 25 pages. My words may not be edited, nor may any attorney for the publishing house be allowed to read said words before publication. I may or may not include directions for summoning the Abandoned Gods, but leave out the containment spells because I think it’s funny.
  6. In addition to the back cover of your book, you must get my blurb tattooed onto your back. This is non-negotiable, and I would hate to revoke my consent to be blurbinated.
  7. As I’ve mentioned: when I die, I’d like a Tibetan Sky Burial, so I demand you do it. Bring my corpse to Tibet and find some vultures. (The vultures will probably find you; finding the vultures will be the easiest part of all this.) If you’re thinking that this is a bit onerous, well: I didn’t ask you for a blurb, did I? No. You asked me, so now you have to cart my corpse halfway around the world and up the side of a mountain, and then feed me to birds. That’s the way the media world works: favors.
  8. (It’s only fair to mention that you’ll also have to steal my body from my family, but if you pretend you’re Gram Parsons’ road manager, then you can Rock Nerd cosplay the whole trip.)
  9. I like blueberries, but sometimes have none. I demand you make that stop happening, David Browne.

All of these demands must be met. Any hesitation or deviation from the plan will result in dead hostages.

Dude, don’t kill the hostages.

There are hostages?



Soothe My Soul

Good news, Enthusiasts: as if you needed any reason besides the book’s wide-ranging brilliance, the upcoming soft-cover release of David Browne’s So Many Roads (available for pre-order now at Amazon) will feature a blurb on the back cover from TotD himself. As Browne’s well-researched and beautifully-written history is a clear rival to the title of BEST EVAR that McNally’s Official Version has held for years, this is an honor. I’d like to thank David.

Now, I shall accuse him of things, and quote from his only one-star review on Amazon.

You’re shitting me.

What? It’s how I thank people.

Please be nice.

I’m being sweet as Fun Dip. Remember Fun Dip?


That was a thing that used to exist.

It was red sugar.

There was also a stick.


Besides, I haven’t even mentioned that infuriating “e” at the end of his name.

Why won’t Jesus kill you?

Just look at this: So Many Roads has a bunch of reviews and stars and shit, and they’re all exemplary. There’s a single one-star review and it’s just exactly perfect.

I’ll allow it, but you’re on a very short leash, counselor.

Okay the whole thing’s boring, but here’s the best sentence:

Written by another dude out to make a quick buck.

A quick buck?

I know, right?

The book’s 400 pages long. Identity theft is a quick buck; writing a 400-page book is a legitimate job.

I know, right?

Did you immediately skip to the worst reviews?

Of course. That’s where the juice is. The most interesting Amazon reviews are bad critiques of universally respected and enjoyed work. What would be the point of reading the good reviews? I want to understand the guy who gives The Godfather one star. He’s fascinating.

Your mind works weird.

I also accuse David Browne of banditry.



I’m not gonna tell you again: stop doing that to French and to historical allusions. Neither deserve that kind of treatment.

Yeah, probably.

Banditry? I certainly hope you’re not accusing him of stealing other’s words.

What? No. Jesus, no. Of course not. You’re an asshole for even bringing that up.

I mean he hides behind trees and waits for rich people’s carriages to pass and robs them.

He doesn’t do that. Also: that’s being a highwayman, not a bandit.

A highwayman engages in banditry. English is not terribly difficult.

It is, actually.

Many quirks.

Also: stop accusing people of things. This is great and you should be proud and honored. David’s book is a towering addition to the Dead canon and he kindly chose you to be a part of it. Instead of making your little jokes, you should just say “Thank you.”

You’re right. Thank you, David. Everybody go buy his book, or go buy his book again. Christmas is coming!

Doesn’t that feel better than accusing?



I do have demands.

Of course.

You said “Dead cannon.”

I didn’t. Canon. One “n.”

Sure, but now I’m thinking about the Dead Cannon.

Are the drummers in charge of it?


How many people die?


And I Hope They Turn It Up Way Too Loud

David Browne, writer of the great So Many Roads and Friend of Thoughts on the Dead (FoTotD,) has this history of the Bataclan, the Parisian music hall that opened in 1864 and will open again, I hope, very soon.


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