Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: jeffrey norman

Diagnosis: Completism

In a rare display of helpfulness, one of the commentators over at links to this interview with David Lemooooooooooooooooooooooo–



Stop it.

–ooox on the subject of the Europe ’72 box set, which was expensive and audacious and all-encompassing and hand-crafted from obscure wood: it was the perfect Grateful Dead release. It looked like this:

europe 72 box open

The shows are individually packaged up all nice; there are booklets of both the hard and soft covered varieties; the box is a manner old-timey. If the inside of your luggage looked like that, then you were on the winning side of Colonialism. I’m not a collector of anything tangible, but this fucker is cool; I would approve of someone purchasing one.

The interview is worth reading: DL goes into detail about the technical bullshit behind releasing a massive chunk of Dead like this, all the inside-baseball stuff about the 22-show, 73-CD box. But if you don’t have the time, I have collated the salient points for you:

  • Billy kept calling Rhino and demanding the set be titled You’re A-Peein’ Tour.
  • At several points during the interview, DL gets distracted by animals and the weather.
  • The mixing and mastering and whatnot took more than a year, mostly because of all the subliminal messages they had to weave into the music.
  • Due to several obscure treaties concerning the intellectual rights of countries, by purchasing the Europe ’72 set you become an EU citizen; you will have to let some refugees stay in your basement.
  • As usual, information about Bobby’s espionage activities during the tour have been censored by Big Dead.
  • A vinyl release was considered until someone did the math and realized that 22 Dead shows equals a million, billion LPs.
  • There are five golden CDs hidden within the 7200 boxes; the people who find them get to come to The Vault, where they will be murdered ironically by oompa-loompas.
  • Mickey wanted to put raccoons in the collector’s-item cases.
  • “Furious ones,”
  • Mickey said.
  • So David Lemieux said,
  • “What?”
  • “It’ll be funny. When the raccoon leaps out.”
  • “But you won’t be there when the person opens it, Mick.”
  • “We’ll know it happened, though.”
  • “And wouldn’t the raccoon die?”
  • “They’re tough little fuckers.”
  • And so on.
  • The stalwart (and under-appreciated) Jeffrey Norman required eight months to mix and master all three-and-a-half day’s worth of Dead music; throughout the process, David Lemieux would send him notes such as “Are those new trousers? They fit you well,” and “I believe in you, Jeffyballs,” and “You’re the best;” Jeffrey Norman was heartened by DL’s direct and sincere show of friendship and support, but he put an end to the Jeffyballs bullshit immediately.
  • Considered making Keith audible at all times, but finally decided on making Keith audible at some times.
  • Once you open the case and remove the booklets, you need to keep the softcover and hardcover separated; they will mate, and you will have pamphlets on your hands.
  • Europe ’72: The Complete Recordings is gluten-free.
  • During this interview, David Lemieutopiax is asked about whether releasing all of one tour would lead to further “theme” boxes; the questioner brings up a “Complete Cleveland” compilation, and DL does not begin to loudly berate him about how Atlanta would be a much better candidate for a complete collection; that is good manners.
  • On the other hand, are there any enormous themes left for another huge box?
  • Let’s see:
    • The only weapon in the Dead’s sheath as imbued with weight and importance (maaaaaan) is the Wall. You could do a complete ’74, but a bunch of shows have already been released and then there’s the September European tour; at least three of those shows are utter stinkers, not even average or boring: downright bad. But if you’re doing the “complete” thing, then you have to put them on.
    • Every New York City show: 157 shows, which puts you around 460 compact discs. The packaging could be a life-size Checker cab, and the mixing and mastering would take Jeffrey Norman the rest of his life.
    • TC Comes Alive: The Complete Tom Constanten Year-And-A-Half.
    • A random show from ’79, but slowed down so much that it takes up 70 CDs, and it comes in a nice wooden box.
    • 231 shows. 700 discs. $4,000. Every Dark Star show. It comes with Hologram Garcia. (Do not make Hologram Garcia.)
      • Hey, look at what I can do.
      • Stop screwing around.
      • I wonder if it goes any further. Do I dare?
        • AHHHHHHH!
        • Knock it off! Go back to normal.
        • I can’t! I don’t know how!
          • See!
          • Motherfucker, you put us back where we’re supposed to be.
          • OKAY. Wait. I think I can do this.
            • Shit.
            • I hate you.

No Further

Well, I’ve found my new favorite thing: the story of a boy, his bus, and some serious bullshit.

Zane Kesey is Ken’s boy and he tends to his dad’s old van and listens to his dad’s old friends’ old stories. Does he own the rights to the name “Acid test?” Does anyone? If anyone does, it seems like it would have been Bill Graham and no one would have realized it until years later, but that is neither here nor there.

So, Zane wanted to drive out and show off the bus, which is the original one. New paint job, but otherwise original. Also, the brakes, but those needed fixing. The engine seized in the late 90’s, and then mice chewed up the entire electrical harness while it sat there, so those are all new, too. Small amount of body work. Brand-new exhaust and also the transmission. Obviously, there are new tires.

Like she just rolled out of the factory.

And then a person named Normal Bean showed up.  You can read about it here and, for the second time today, I beseech one of the smarter Enthusiasts to explain to me just what the fuck is going on. I was never real clever-like with your sinuous-type narrative, y’see. Spy movies? I just watch the attractive people kill and fuck one another in glamorous locations. Any plot beyond Mad Max: Fury Road is beyond me.

I do not understand much of this, but what it seems has happened is that a decent man’s name was used by a low shyster for purposes of skullduggery. The pig in a poke can only be sold on the salesman’s name and reputation, which is why a Bean hides behind a Kesey.



This is during the conversation about the private train lines the city has promised Normal Bean. Did you notice the bit about Tesla? Would you have sprinted in the other direction at this point? Do you know Ben Jammin?

And then there’s this one:


When a motherfucker STARTS his bullshit with the Johnny Depp Casual Mention, you know you’re in for some good bullshit. Does Thai Stick stick still exist? Doesn’t matter: this is going to be the Thai Stick of bullshit when you OPEN with the JDCM.

In two paragraphs, this fast-talking sumbitch claims massive swathes of Chicago, like he was some sort of hippie conquistador planting his flag in things. Then, he gives Zane Kesey a TV show.

Zane? Bubbe? Kiddo? Should have seen this one coming. Maybe should hit the big city a little bit more, get mugged once or twice.

Enthusiasts, what have we learned?

  • A man named Normal Bean is precisely as trustworthy and honest as you would expect him to be.
  • Can’t con an honest man.
  • The city of Chicago does not work the way Normal Bean describes it.

You like saying Normal Bean, don’t you?

Who wouldn’t?

Yeah, I guess.

Normal Bean!

Normal Bean!

Let’s kiss!


The Matrix Revealed

We’ve got to talk about these matrix mixes. I just went through about eight of them, one after another, the digital version of throwing a paperback across the room after an egregious sentence. Etree is full of the damn things, and fuck me if they’re not a solid 95% unlistenable.

In Bill Graham’s great posthumous oral autobiography (seriously), he tells a story about the light show folks trying to get more power and/or control and/and money. He laughed at them. “If you don’t show up, the band goes on; if the band doesn;t show up, you don’t play. The light show is an appendage! ZAYNE HASHEN MEIN TUCHAS, TU ZAF CHARATZIM MITTEN DER PICKLESCHMECKER! “

In a Matrix, the crowd is the light show: it’s there to complement, to heighten the drama, to punctuate and underscore. It can never become a distraction. Rising, falling, cheering, and occasionally singing: all as one, a great human sweaty glob of instant feedback. Technology (and, let’s not forget the hard work and love that Jeffrey Norman and the whole crew do) now allows for a clarity, a precision to the sound that can border on the sterile.

It’s easy to forget that these shows took place in buildings, buildings just chock-full of people going through some real heavy shit, man.

So when David Lemieux announced that the next Dave’s Pick would be November 30th, 1980 at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, part of the big news was that this would be the first (?) official release that could rightly be called a matrix and from the small (for the Dead: it’s still a two songs that take up 20 minutes) snippet of the finished product, they’ve just killed it. Go listen to the drums, how you can hear them playing not just in the band, but in the room. They sound like they are fixed in space in a way that hasn’t been so clear before. The crowd cheers them on at every turn,

As opposed to–and I’m not making this up–one I listened to (briefly) where the matrix was where a compressed-sounding SBD met an AUD that was just dudes shouting out one another and yelling out names of songs that could never in a million years be played at that moment in the show. (Seriously, Mr. Bro-tato Head? You’re shouting for Wharf Rat in the middle of the first set? Go jerk off your uncle.)


p.s. It doesn’t take more than half-a-dozen comments on the announcement page before someone starts someone starts whining that, while the show’s from the ’80’s, it’s not from far enough in to the decade. Bravo.


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