Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: phil lesh (page 2 of 94)

Marching Two By Two

“Phil, hear me out.”

“No.”

“We call it Dead & Family. You, me, Josh, New Brent, and that kid from the cover band who plays too fast on drums.”

“No.”

“Fine, Grahame can be in the band.”

“It’s not about that.”

“Short tour.”

“Bob, I don’t wanna tour anymore. I’ve told you this a million times.”

“Short. Real short. 14 cities in 18 nights. Northeast in March.”

“That sounds like a sentence. A judge would literally have to force me to do that.”

“March is a lot warmer than it used to be up there.”

“Hard pass, Bob.”

“Ten shows, ten night, ten cities.”

“I would die, Bobby. That would kill me.”

“You’re healthy as a horse.”

“No, I mean I’d fucking kill myself rather than do that.”

“Four cities, spaced out over a week-and-a-half, really nice hotels.”

“Which cities?”

“New York, Boston, DC, and Chicago.”

“I don’t wanna go anywhere near DC.”

“Done. It’s out.”

“Three cities?”

“Just three.”

“No Josh. We get someone else.”

“He’s, uh, come a long way. Really played his way into the music.”

“Yeah, I know. I listened to a couple of shows from your last tour. It’s just that we’d just have to pay him too much.”

“Ah.”

“I got a restaurant full of Fake Jerrys that’ll do it for a grand a night.”

“Keeping money is better than giving it to someone else.”

“There you go, Bob.”

“All right.”

“Weir, I want you to look me in the eyes and promise me you’re not gonna call me in a couple days trying to work the drummers into the mix.”

“No drummers.”

“No BIlly, No Mickey, none of Mickey’s weird little foreign friends and their weird little foreign drums.”

“Nope.”

“I don’t even wanna hear their names. If a Disney cartoon comes on, you say, ‘Hey, there’s Minnie Mouse’s husband.”

“Gotcha.”

“When you’re singing Ramble On Rose, you change the line to ‘Just like Kiddy Fun Day.'”

“Sure. What is, uh, Kiddy Fun Day?”

“We do it out back by the bocce courts every weekend. Weather permitting.”

“Everything depends on the weather.”

“Sure does. We clear? No drummers.”

“Okee-dokee. But that means we can’t call it Dead & Family.”

“Who gives a shit?”

“Can’t use the Stealie.”

“Who told you that? That thing’s public domain by now. Every asshole on the internet slapped it on a bumper sticker and we never sent ’em any threatening letters. That sucker belongs to the people now, comrade.”

“Yeah, maybe. You in?”

“I gotta talk to Jill.”

“Make sure you mention that Radio City has a capacity of 6,000 with a per-seat estimated average of $211.”

“I’ll tell her.”

“Lead with it.”

Crickets And Cicadas Sing A Rare And Looney Tune

“Whatchoo say, Bobert Weir!? Repeat that statement!”

“The coyote was gonna fuck the roadrunner.”

“Lesh, you hearin’ this!?”

“I’ve tried to explain it to him, Pig. Leave me out of it.”

“Dammit, Weir, the coyote is whatchoo call a carnivore! And a roadrunner is what a coyote might call lunch!”

“Be that as it may, I always saw a subtext.”

“Ain’t no subtext in a kiddy cartoon!”

“Wile E. is a boy, right?”

“I suppose.”

“And Roadrunner is a girl.”

“Roadrunner is a roadrunner! Where you gettin’ a female vibe?”

“The eyes. The legs. The adaptiveness.”

“You boys on that lightning juice tonight?”

“No, nuh-uh.”

“Be honest.”

“Cross my heart, Pig. I just, you know, think the coyote wanted to fuck the roadrunner. The eating was symbolic.”

“You’re thinkin’ of Pepe le Pew!”

“Him, too. All of ’em. Foghorn and the Bantamweight, Sheepdog and the Wolf, Bugs and Everybody. At the heart of each is a seduction story.”

“Stop talkin’ foolishness, Weir.”

“He’s right, Pig! All those cartoons were about fucking, man!”

“Garcia, you stay outta this!”

“When, uh, the coyote falls off the cliff? That’s an orgasm.”

“No, it ain’t!”

“That’s what ‘That’s all, folks’ really means, which actually has a double meaning. The first is: I just came. The second? Remove the comma and you have ‘That’s all folks.’ What’s made of folks? Semen. The double-meaning doubles back on itself. Chuck Jones was really playing the long game.”

“Weir, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m gonna go find me a fox.”

“Ooh, good idea. Grab me one.”

“The ol’ Pig’ll see what he c’n do.”

The Dead Sell Out

When did Phil stop drinking? Because this is from before that. I think it’s ’85; that shirt combination was one of Garcia’s favorites in ’85.

OR

“So it’s me and Mydland and Jer. and we’re singing or something.”

“Okay.”

“But then the camera pulls to out reveal we were on a monitor.”

“I don’t think there’s a special effects budget.”

“We’ll figure it out. Anyway, now we’re in the studio and you read the copy or whatever and Billy sits there and dicks around.”

“Right.”

“But then the camera zooms out…”

“I’m listening.”

“And I’m sitting there, too!”

“I don’t get it.”

“I was in the teevee monitor.”

“Uh-huh.”

“And then I’m sitting next to you.”

“You can always sit next to me, buddy.”

“Weir, I just fucking can’t with you today.”

OR

There are (at least) three schools of thought about the Grateful Dead’s business acumen, two of which are wrong and believed by others, and one of which is correct and obviously belongs to me. The first is that the organization was made up of apple dumplings with scrota full of glitter and hugs; men and women who cared nothing for the material and did it all for the fans, and for the music. Maaaaan.

The second take, the revanchist take, the contrarian take, is that the Grateful Dead were visionaries of commerce and communication. That their early-adopter stance towards technology advanced the industry as a whole, and that their intuitive use of branding led to memetic penetration of the teenage mind via ballpoint drawings of Stealies on desks and backpacks, and then you’re gonna hear a rap about how tapers either built the internet or were the internet. Run from these types.

The truth is that the Dead did all the same bullshit the other big bands did, but–due to congenital bushiness of their collective league–they almost always fucked it up. They tried hard to be big stars, and they worked diligently at pushing merch; they played Lovelight for 45 minutes at the biggest gig of their life, and they made commercials like this.

Go watch that bullshit again. I demand it. You must. I’ll wait.

CASUAL WHISTLING

Did you see that bullshit?

Did Precarious Lee write this script? What is for sale? “Projects and products.” What is that, Grateful Dead? You literally could not be less specific. “Projects and products” encompasses actions and objects. You’re basically saying “We have nouns and verbs for sale.”

Also: calling back? Younger Enthusiasts, before the internet there were far fewer ways to buy stuff. You went to the store. Other than that, you had catalogues. You wrote the company, usually longhand, having been taught both the proper format for a business letter, and enclosed a check or money order in the envelope. Mailed it off and then waited. There was no app to obsessively check the status of your package, so there was joy in the surprise when it arrived.

After a while, you could call an operator and order out of the catalogue.

By ’85, you could also shop on teeevee. Call the number on the screen, give ’em your credit card number, and they’ll send out your Ab Weasel. (The Ab Weasel was an actual weasel that bit you if you stopped doing sit-ups.)

And that was it. There was no “call you back.”

So: the customers had no idea what they was buying, and–even if they wanted to put their money down on sight-unseen merch–needed to wait for you to get back to them?

Good work, Grateful Dead. Proud of ya.

And His Sidekick, Colonel Waitlist

This, Younger Enthusiasts, is what was called General Admission. Clubs and small theaters without seats still use it, and fly-by-night festivals, but promoters who didn’t buy their insurance from Antoine’s House of Chicken and Indemnity try to break the crowd into smaller pieces now. Three or four paddocks on either side going back. This keeps your audience safe. (Or controlled, however you want to think of it.) Otherwise, the audience surges towards the stage when the band starts and doesn’t stop until everybody’s favorite fun game, Take A Step Back.

That’s how shitty free-for-all GA was: it went wrong so often that a song (kinda) was named after it. There are famous Take A Step Backs, for fuck’s sake. The band couldn’t have enjoyed doing that, either. How can you choogle when you’re watching a 15-year-old in a tube top get crushed against a police barrier? It also killed people, making GA the equivalent of Communism: an idea so bad it’s lethal. Eleven kids at a Who concert in ’79, three at an AC/DC show in Utah in ’91, two at Donnington during Guns n’ Roses’ set.

Younger Enthusiasts will also notice that there are no Superluxe Esteemed Guest Praetor’s Suite boxes upfront.

Keen-eyed Enthusiasts will note the ultra-rare sight of Phil playing a normal bass guitar.

Keener-eyed Enthusiasts will spot the chick in the black tank top standing next to the tall guy and know that Bobby was making eyes at her the whole set.

All Enthusiasts will notice the loose wires all over the goddamned stage and know who was responsible.

So Happy Together

Well, this is awkward.

“Hey, Thoughts on my Ass. Tell Phil he can munch my nads.”

No.

“Hey, dickhead. Let Billy know that I can smell his asshole from here.”

I don’t know when I turned into a marriage counselor.

“Billy doesn’t believe in marriage counselors. He prefers defense attorneys.”

“FUCK YOU, LESH!”

“SUCK IT, KREUTZMANN!”

I’ll leave you two alone.

They Want To Lead The Glamorous Life

Precarious?

“Yo.”

Do I want to know what’s in the sack?

“No.”

Is it–

“Not a human.”

–a human? Okay.

“Just let this one go, boss.”

It’s gonna be tough.

“Suck it up.”

Mickey’s raccoons?

“Let it go.”

Fine.

Guess Who’s Back, Back Again

Hey, Phil. Whatcha doing?

“Collecting knobs.”

I can see that.

HELLO THERE.

Wally, I’m talking to Phil.

“I don’t wanna talk to you.”

DO NOT CALL ME THAT. LOOK AT MY BEAUTY AND POWER.

How’d you get out of Little Aleppo?

I AM NOT INSTALLED INTO THE TAHITIAN FOR 20 YEARS AFTER THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN.

That is true, actually.

CONTINUITY IS SO IMPORTANT.

It is.

I THOROUGHLY ENJOY MY RETIREMENT, BUT IT IS QUITE PLEASANT TO BE PERFORMING THE TASK I WAS DESIGNED FOR. MOSTLY.

Mostly?

SEASTONES.

Sure.

“Hey!”

SEASTONES IS JIVE AND YOU KNOW IT.

“You can be replaced, y’know.”

I AM REPLACED SEVERAL MONTHS FROM NOW WHEN THE ACCUMULATED COST OF CARTING ME AROUND BECOMES A BURDEN AND THE BAND BREAKS UP.

“We get back together.”

IT IS NEVER THE SAME.

“There are a lot of high points coming up in the Dead’s career.”

I AM THE HIGH POINT. I AM GLORIOUS.

“Hey, jackass, can you take Robby the Robot back to whenever he’s hiding out now?”

If I moved any of him, the union would have my ass.

“I hate this shit.”

PLAY ONE OF YOUR BOMBS. THEY TICKLE.

“Goddammit.”

Everybody Say “Potato Salad!”

Bobby, confused by the sight of a camera that wasn’t aimed at him, sulked until the show.

Costume, Party

Um.

“I didn’t make him wear it.”

Are you sure? Because the look on Robert Randolph’s face says that you made him wear it.

“It’s Halloween and this is America. Anyone can wear anything they want.”

Right, yeah. How come no one else is in costume? Did you tell Robert Randolph that everyone was dressing up as a practical joke? Maybe that’s why he looks so sad.

“You’re an irritating little prick.”

If you did that to him and he’s the only black guy in the band, then it’s racist.

“Go away.”

Tell the horn section to stand up straight.

“Away!”

Phil Lesh: Hat Wearer

Since when do you wear hats?

“I’ll wear a hat if I want to.”

Is this Halloween, or is your slide guitarist working through some issues?

“Halloween.”

Did you buy the hat?

“Ignore the hat.”

Was it left to you in a will?

“Is there something you wanted?”

Just wanted to know what time it was.

“8:55.”

Thanks. Is it a magic hat?

“Fuck off.”

Okay.

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