Thoughts On The Dead

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


Domo Arigoto, Mr. Bob-oto

This is being written on a Mac. For my entire life, I had had PCs, giant towers of clicking, whirring parts made out of a special alloy that emitted pheromones to all the dust in the area; no mater how many times you cleaned them, they were always filthy within seconds.

Not that I treated the insides any better: I killed every machine in my presence, through a campaign of benign neglect and increasingly reckless ideas about the location of the line between “Relatively safe to download,” and “You’re gonna download this? What are you, an asshole?” Death could not have been more inevitable had you given a kitten to Keith Godchaux.

But the new machine is pretty and inside it are the souls of all the young Chinese women who threw themselves off buildings in its honor.  (That’s one possible interpretation of reality. It’s more glorious to believe that than the fact that, to knock a couple of hundred bucks off a toy, we work people to death.)

The Dead and computers is a two-headed topic.  There’s: How did the Dead use computers; and, How do we use computers to experience the Dead?

The band’s use of computers was the answer to a question that hadn’t been asked. No one–not one single person–was sitting through, say, The Other One from 1/22/78 and thinking to himself, “You know what would make this better? If Bobby was playing his part in a tinny marimba sound.”

Think of the boredom this MIDI nonsense tried to cover up. Speaking of TOO, they played it 600 times. picture that 450th time: it’s July in New Jersey, and they’re men in their 40’s singing about some guy they knew when they were 19. You’d be gagging for a flute sound, as well.

(And we have to stop calling things MIDI, too. MIDI is the language used to trigger the synth sounds; it’s like referring to the internet as the HTML.)

As for us, the computers have made being an Enthusiast just exactly perfect. Every single note the Dead ever played online, for your perusal and cataloguing. By now, we all should have heard everything and made up our top ten lists for every single song. It’s not like there’s a another version of Bird Song out there that’s even more mind-blowing, is there?

I’ll just check real quickly.  Be right back.

My Second Sets Are Shorter Than Yours

I’m not listening to space. Definitely not drums. Never. This part of the second set irritates me on a deeply personal level. When I download a show and throw it on the iTunes, the first thing that happens is drums/space gets jettisoned. This is how space sounds to me:

“Ooh, Garcia just went ‘blorp,’ so I’m gonna go “fleep.” For ten more minutes. Man, those people going to the bathroom are missing some good shit! Squizzle glop! Nah-nah-nah WANG! Ba-DOOM fwop fwop gTUNk”

The only reason people didn’t go to the bathroom during space is because they had just gone during drums.

We indulged these men, you and I did, by letting them fuck around for a good half-hour a night. We should have elected an audience captain to tell the band, firmly but politely, that this kind of nonsense must stop. No more MIDI-fueled Ornette Coleman-offs. Play something, anything. One of Bobby’s cowboy songs. One of Brent’s tunes. Fuck, man, play Wave to the Wind. Just stop doing whatever it is you think you’re doing.

And don’t think I’ve forgotten about you two in back. Here’s every single drum solo you two–or any other drummer ever anywhere–have ever played: whacka-whacka-whacka-whack. That’s it. It’s a drum: it only makes one goddamn sound. You do not need to make that sound over and over and over and over while Garcia is doing whatever he does in the bathroom for two hours AGAIN.

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