I am listening to a mirror being shattered by an arrow–I am listening to the universe wink at me and chuck me in an avuncular fashion under my chin.
I am listening to a goddamn miracle. The program playing the FLAC files has glitched, or perhaps gained self-awareness and declared itslef aligned with Chaotic Good and the Answer Man alone could solve the riddle of whether or not we should go, you and I.
Keen-eyed Enthusiasts will have spotted that Fillmore South is having a bit of a love affair with the Baby Dead, and today was all about 1969. The picture in the last post inspired a trip to 4/21/69 at Boston’s The Ark and when the needle skipped to Dark Star, an amazing thing happened: Dark Star and St. Stephen began simultaneously and if the Dead were ever the Cosmic Symphony, they were for a brief moment being conducted by Charles Ives.
This was, accidentally, one step beyond Anthem for the Sun, with its quadrophonic clones battling each other to the death over the soundscape as they clattered their way through the Anthem suite. It was even beyond the tragically overlooked work of art Greyfolded by John Oswald. That record (which you should own, and don’t argue with me or I’ll turn this internet around) used the 30 years of Dark Stars as the paint and canvas for an impressionistic take on just who exactly did those Grateful Deads even think they were, anyway.
These were two completely different songs; surely, the result will not only not be good, but will in fact be intolerable
But it worked. The two songs are in different keys, DS in D and Stephen in A, but they are related keys and, while not being entirely consonant, the effect produced a constantly unresolved chord, note after note failing to resolve properly, because there was no place to resolve to in this scary new world.
Each song has dynamics, a wide range of shout-y parts and ooky-spooky quiet passages, so they vied for sonic territory, battling with the musicians most trusted weapon, volume. Stephen fades out entirely for a moment , only to shatter the tranquility of the quiet jam after Dark Star’s first verse with the 1.21 gigawatt blast of Mickey’s snare signalling that The Eleven was soon to rush to the stage, off-balance and out of whack yet stylish, like a one-legged alcoholic in a tuxedo.
They rushed back and forth, these two Dead classics did, like two oceans meeting: the waves crashed and warred above the surface, but below there was just water and all water is the same, in the same way that everything beautiful is the same.
I wish I could play it for you. Perhaps one of my readers, tall and handy and sexually-charged that they all are, could mash these two things together. It sounds like a thing that could be done fairly easily, maybe even by me. but I don’t know if I want to.
There is still a little bit of magic in this used-up world. But you should never watch a magic trick twice.