Taping is like real estate: location is everything. Some folks like riding the rail, and get off on the band’s faces as much as their music, but not a Taper. Sound’s all jumbled and gloppy for the first few dozen feet, especially if it’s coming from multiple sources; you need a vantage point. There is almost certainly trigonometry involved.
And if the proper patch of dirt is right by the port-a-potties, then so be it; some things are more important than an afternoon of stanky breezes. Get it on tape: this is the code of the Taper. Neither security, nor dead batteries, nor wind, nor rain, nor Parish shall stay me from my appointed duty. Get it on tape.
The great Jesse Jarnow, who was promised a plug for his wonderful book Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America in exchange for the rights to this photo, took this photo. (I now own the rights to this photo.)
Anyway: you see the microphones up at the end of those sticks? The music comes into them and vibrates a little dealie that goes WIBBLEWIBBLEWIBBLE and that vibration gets translated into electricity that goes FWEEEEEEE down the cord and the recorder goes NOMNOMNOM and there you have it: it is on tape.
(There’s no tape any more, obviously, and hasn’t been for a while. The Dead’s Tapers went to digital almost as soon as it was available–Deadheads do tend to be early adopters–and never looked back. That’s NYCtaper in the pic, and here I will admit to being astonished, Enthusiasts. Apparently, recording live sound still requires a specialized, complicated stand-alone device. Now, I didn’t think it was an app, but I didn’t think you needed a separate gizmo; totally thought a powerful laptop could do it. I stand corrected.)
We need more Tapers; let the mic stands bloom, but not like flowers: flowers are delicate and temporary. Let the Tapers sprout like weeds, everywhere and unkillable and disrespectful to anyone’s needs but their own code: get it on tape. They are history’s first responders, the Tapers. Abraham Zapruder was a Taper.
Record it all, not just the music. Put the seeds in that arctic vault, and bank the panda DNA out in the desert. The film reels go to Utah, into the caves, where it’s cool and dry. Scan the books before they rot, and model the buildings before the sea comes in; we can rebuild Miami Beach, and make it more naked and coked-up. We have the technology.
Get it on tape. There are worse credos to live by.