We don’t talk about ’71 a lot, you and I? In the transitive nightfall of diamonds?

(I need to get this off my chest: the lyrics to Dark Star–well, all of the early, yell-y songs, but Dark Star in extremis–are nothing but a freshman year way of saying, “I took the big blue pill.” In fact, the phrase “dark star” is almost identical to the phrase “midnight sun,” which is universal shorthand for “shitty lyrics.” Seriously, go check how many songs have “midnight sun” in them: it seems like a lot, but I’m going to have to go ahead and absolutely refuse to do even the tiniest iota of research for this. Nor will I provide links to examples.)

Because for a while there, in between TC and Keith, it was just the five of them. Pig did the backing vocals on Not Fade Away. Billy wouldn’t transform into Swingin’ Billy the Jazzbo Cat for three years. Bobby was in that sweet spot between learning how to play electric guitar and learning how to play slide guitar. Garcia still had the nasty sound of the Primal stuff, but he was playing these long, lyrical lines and PHIL WAS PLAYING EVERY NOTE HE COULD THINK OF AS LOUD AND AS OFTEN AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE.

And it worked, it really worked. They were loud and nasty and occasionally funky. They actually were the dance band they’d always bullshitted about being. And the shows they have left us are a little bit of magic in this used-up world.

We haven’t talked about Pigpen; we’re gonna talk about Pigpen.