Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: phil lesh (page 3 of 96)

Have A Safe Trip



Were you trying to kill them?


The band.


I can’t even begin to count the safety violations in this picture.

“Ah, they’ll be fine. Big babies. I wrapped the cable around the mic stand.”

You honestly think that counts.

“I do.”

Is that plank of wood attached to anything?

“Attachment leads to suffering.”


Looking Back, Looking Forward

Your monitor is swastika-adjacent.

“Beat it.”

Just pointing it out.

“You’ve pointed. Now go.”

Your hair looks nice.

“I stole Bobby’s conditioner.”

That sounds tough.

“You got no idea. He put an alarm on the bottle. I had to slide in a bag full of sand as I was taking it.”

Why will you motherfuckers not stop using that goddamned Time Sheath for silly bullshit?

“Wow, was that sentence syntactically fucked.”

Dude, Raiders doesn’t come out for eight years when you are. Knock it off.

“I will not. Me and Garcia are going to see Aliens again after the show.”

Could you at least try not to let people see you?


Dammit, Phil.

Keith’s Left, Keith’s Right, He’s Gone



Why did Keith’s piano move from one side of the stage to the other, depending on what show it was?

“Two reasons.”

Were they shits and giggles?

“Little bit, yeah.”

Why would you do that?

“Gotta find your fun somewhere. We’d put his piano stage left for a few shows, then shift it to the other side, and he’d get so confused. One time, he just sat on a road case and started playing a monitor.”

That is kinda funny.

“Yup. He kept tweaking Bobby’s nipples trying to turn himself up.”

That’s damn funny.

“Certainly was.”

We Were Having A Thigh Time

These men got groupies.


Younger Enthusiast, this cannot be explained away by invoking “it was the fashion of the time.” When the Dead wore rainbow trousers and fringed jackets and frilled shirts: well, it was the 60’s. That was what hip young men wore to attract groovy young ladies. But this bullshit? This bullshit right here? This bullshit was not the fashion of the time. This bullshit was not the fashion of any time in human history.


It is rare, exceedingly so, that Bobby’s short shorts are the most acceptable pant on stage: if a bit risqué, they are still basic and classic jean shorts. Whereas Phil is wearing sky-blue velour and holy fucking shit there are cuffs on Garcia’s.


None of their shoes are helping, either.


If Phil sits down, his balls are escaping. That’s a fact.




Is Brent’s monitor on an end table?



“Coffee table was too low.”


And Here’s Keith!

Hey, Keith. Whatcha doing?


I said, “Hi.”

“Okay. Do you have any nembutol?”





None of these drugs exist in my temporal location.



“I pooped myself.”

This is why you’re not a regular character.

Springtime Chillers

Dammit, Bobby: your other left.


No one show Mrs, Donna Jean’s coat to Josh.


A rare instance of Billy winning the Posture Game.


Legally, if you assemble this many Grateful Deads, someone has to be wearing the lady in the background’s hippie vest. (I think they hand those vests out at vegan bookstores.)


Mrs Donna Jean is a Crip.


“I don’t know Steve Bannon, either.”

Fuck, I hope not.

“Eh. There’s a shot. Met a lot of rich asshole Deadheads.”

True. Who’s the worst?

“The bankers. They always gotta tell you about the other thing they do. ‘I’m really a novelist, I’m gonna open up a B&B. All that bullshit. Only thing worse than a banker who hates his job is a banker who doesn’t. Those are the creepy ones.”

Bankers worse than the Hollywood guys?

“Hell, yeah. At least the Hollywood assholes have good stories.”

True. I keep thinking you’re wearing a Che Guavara shirt.

“Fuck that guy.”

I’m with you on that one.

“I don’t know Steve Bannon, either!”

No one thought you did, Mickey.

“Wanna talk about drums?”

Not really.

Ready, Set-Up, Go




“Which part?”

All of it.

“Drummers wanted to be up front.”

Why did you let them?

“Why would I care? They wanna set up in the bathroom, I’ll set ’em up in the bathroom.”

What about Phil?

“What about him?”

Why is he all the way in the back?

“He was feeling anti-social today.”

Sure. Precarious?


Is there any security at all?

“Now there is. Shitloads of it.”

What about in 1970 when the picture was taken?

“Yeah, no. No security at all. Concept didn’t exist. You hoped that the kids were too fucked up to riot, and the road crew punched stagehoppers. That was it.”

The good old days.

“The old days.”

It’s A Set-Up

We are told that the triangle is the strongest shape found in nature, but triangles do not occur in nature. Lot of shit’s triangular–mountains are pretty trianglescent, for example–but no actual triangles. Spheres? Circles? Absolutely. Bees’ll do ya up a nice hexagon. But triangles? Nah.

And certainly not hairy rhombi, which is the configuration the Dead have assembled into here. The Mickey-Bobby and Phil-Billy-Garcia (hereafter known as MB and PKG) line segments are parallel and share a slope of +1 (roughly).  The rhombus is an inherently unstable shape, which is why the Egyptians did not entomb their kings in them. (Also, Ptolemy hated rhombuses. “Your name being spelled wrong is my thing,” the pharaoh would often say, to which his courtiers did not respond, as the joke only works in modern-day English.)

Which brings me to my thesis: the Grateful Dead did shit wrong.

Is that your thesis or an overarching theme?



Look at them. I mean, just look at them. Everyone is entirely off their kilter; perhaps no one had even been on their kilter at all that day. Besides the asymmetry–which would be bettered if Pig were in the shot–it’s the bocce court in between Mickey and Billy that’s the beauty bit.

You see those monitors? They’re not monitors. They’re speakers shimmed into position with some stolen motel Bibles. Monitors are wedge-shaped so you don’t have to lean them against stuff to get them into the right position, and in 1970 they didn’t exist. So you propped up some PA speakers, plugged ’em into the board, and fiddled with knobs until they didn’t feedback. That was about it. And they were just for the vocals, really; you heard your guitar through the nine giant amplifiers stacked behind you.

So, if you wanted to hear the drummer, you had to stand right next to the drummer.

But the mic was all the way at the front of the stage, so Phil had to run up Drummer’s Alley every time he had to sing. (Do you think he waited til the last second and sprinted up dramatically like the big-time Rock Stars used to do? Or was it a casual mosey? It was a casual mosey, wasn’t it?)


Whatever their current relationship, Phil and Billy used to be Shirt Buddies, and that’s how I’ll continue thinking of them.

Switchmen Sleeping

When they sleep, all true Grateful Deads dream of a guitar made up exclusively of fiddly bullshit: no wood, no strings, not even a Stealie. An all-doohickey axe, man. That’s rock and roll.

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