Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: franklin’s tower

Guitar Zero

I have a Squier now, a shitty sunburst Strat knock-off with crackling and mostly-fucked electronics. No matter, I don’t plug it in mostly: it’s just us and some chord charts from the internet. When I do rock the fuck out, though. it’s with a very cool and smart amp with all the sexy.

Remember those candy-colored pedals, so wondrously named: BIG MUFF, WAH-FUZZ, SLAP-BACK, all that back page of Guitar Player magazine bullshit? A real professional would have, like, 15 of them hot-glued to a big wooden board. (Alex Lifeson might have had three or four separate boards. That giuy single-handedly kept the Toronto Sam Ash in business.)

These new amps do all of that by themselves. The reverb and delay and aggressive squealy metal and rumbly surf rock: just everything you can thing of, and for one single hundred-dollar bill. Not a bad country. Fender Mustang, baby.

Which is odd, because I’ve already owned a Fender Mustang. It was my other electric guitar: my father came home from work one day with it. Some guy at the office, he said, had sold it to him. The Mustang was a mess from its conception: small-scale neck, weird-o switches for the pickups and the worst tremolo system known to man that made it physically impossible to keep in tune. My friend Jay and I had to open it up and slather the springs and doo-hickeys in Krazy Glue (you should be aware that we did not consult a luthier before beginning this project) to keep the thing solid.

Worked, though. Damned fine guitar after that, were it not for the sound.

Our earlier project did improve the sound of a shitty guitar. (Some people’s lives can be measured in dogs; mine by which shitty guitar did I not practice.) We took a $40 guitar from Sears–no, not Sears. My mother got it for me with Green Stamps–and sanded the lacquer off. We spray-painted it white Then, using electrical tape, we laid in long, straight, black stripes. Another layer of red paint, pull some of the tape off and I had myself the only Eddie Van Halen acoustic guitar on the planet.

I neer really learned to play the damn thing. But, you know: I can play. I shall use Dead songs to illustrate, from “I could jam that shit right now, bro,” to “I would have a better chance of flying than of playing this song if I practiced nothing but it for the remainder of my life.”

  • Fire on the Mountain is just two chords.
  • Franklin’s is three chords, but only two of them are important.
  • Bertha’s pretty simple.
  • St. Stephen is (mostly) just I-IV-V, too.

Now it’s getting out of my comfort zone.

  • You know that chord in Ship of Fools that sounds really tricky? It is.
  • Same thing with China Doll.
  • Brown-Eyed Women is far tougher than it sounds.

We now come to things that I might take a run at, only to fail miserably and not touch the guitar for a week.

  • Deal is the devil. Seriously: go try to play it on guitar.
  • Slipknot! is way tougher than it sounds, and it already sounds like La Villa Strangiata.
  • Bobby’s parts on China Cat.

Help>Slip And Hend Grenades

I won’t go on about this one: you’ve heard it before: 9/28/75 in Lindley Meadows. Hell, I’ve written about it before but something just occurred to me: much like how the year they retired was their most consistently brilliant, the BEST EVAR Help>Slip>Franklin’s is the one that doesn’t quite exist.

Mickeyleaks #16

When Bobby started dating that dance instructor from San Anselmo, nobody paid it any mind.

Until Bobby broke out the full Single Ladies choreography behind Garcia during Franklin’s.

Wave That Black Flag

Right up front: I have no idea how I feel about this. It might be good; in fact, I think I might dig it the most.

And it might suck.

Listen to it: Henry Rollins doing a go-go/industrial cover of Franklin’s Tower.

 

Whaddya think?

 

Thoughts On A Dead Show

This show is not Hall Of Fame, and it is certainly not TEH GRATEST EVAR, but it beats the famed (but to my ears sluggish) From Egypt With Love shows by a good margin.

It’s a ’78, and moreover, it’s the most ’78 that ’78 ever was. Half-Step>Franklin’s opener? Check. A wobbly but fun Stagger Lee? Yup. Bobby playing slide? You betcha. Tempos jangling and skittering out-of-control? Why not?

But the NFA>GDTRFB is nuts, bursting at the seams with energy, derived from gram-sized baggies or not. Slower than expected (the NFA at least, the Goin’ Down is halfway to speed metal) and pulsing with the rocksteady beat that the rest of the show is only semi-familiar with, the second set ends with a great laid-back Around and Around featuring Bobby with an audible smirk on his face and buttoning a “y’all” to the end of very line.

Caveat Emptor is what I’m saying: this one.  For the ’78 fans only: 12/12/78 at the Jai Alai Fronton in Miami.

 

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