"If you tell the Truth, you don't have to remember anything"
-Mark Twain
"You realize, of course, that everything I say is horseshit." -Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Familiar Faces In An Empty Window Pane

In 1995, the Grateful Dead played their most spirited show on this date. It is not cocincedent that this was in large part to the special guest that played with them on this night. Their former mate Bruce Hornsby put the two step back into the Grateful Dead stride, which you can download a SBD of HERE and HERE. I'm well aware of the negative stigmatism that is associated with shows from 1995 but this is probably the best from the year.
There is quite the pep in the "Half Step" opener, and Garcia doesn't waste anytime to jump all over the solo as they reach the coda. The harmony vocals sets Garcia off as his voice cracks "Across the lazy river." Durning the blues jaunt "Wang Dang," Bruce Hornsby starts to make his presences felt. Bruce slides in and takes over as Garcia's guitar solo slowly fades. Throughout the show Bruce glowing Grand Piano fills those space that are left by Garcia. "Cold Rain and Snow" Jerry leaves space for Bruce's piano to sing a solo. Bruce then wins the award for Best Supporting Role for his fills in "Loser," "Easy Answers," and "So Many Roads." Complementing the vocals and the Garcia leads throughout those songs. Please don't skip "Easy Answers" this version is definitely more bluesy than cheesy.
The second set opens with the second ever "Unbroken." At the time, some DeadHeads didn't believe that they had actually played it in Philly, no matter what the setlist sheets in the lot read. So you can hear the crowd rejoicing as the band begins the song, but it also signaled that Philly wasn't a fluke. "Unbroken Chain" was now in the Grateful Dead lexicon of songs and crowds in 95 anticipated the song, I remember seeing a giant chain of linked glow sticks being passed through the crowd as a request for the song on particular nights.
After shaking the cobwebs off, Jerry starts to gearing up the energy by launching into "Scarlet/Fire." The audience is eating up every verse of "Scarlet" and egging the band on so that Jerry vaults through a massive solo. Bruce and Phil lay the frame work that Jerry feeds and build off of making the final verse a potent declaration of "The sky was yellow the sun was blue." The transition jam is lead be Bruce's grand sinking the band into the dark funk of "Fire." Bobby makes a great call by choosing "Corrina" next because of its airiness and its inclination to improvisation that made it a Deadhead favorite. There is also the reference that the song was part of Hunter's Terrapin Suite, which is partially true. Hunter took the line "There's no fear that to lovers born would ever fail to meet" from his "Leaving Terrapin" from the Terrapin Suite but the rest of the song is independent of Terrapin. (Ratdog didn't help the rumors by playing "Corrina" in the middle of "Terrapin Station" and "At The Sliding.")
In the intro of "Corrina," Bruce lays down a funky little keys diddi that he revives several times after the verses, in "Matilda," and in the little jam that peaks into "Drums." Bruce owns this portion of the set, which is what makes this such the unbelievably energetic show for 1995.
Out of "Space," the puts together the building blocks that forms "Days Between." The song has four verses each one representing one of the seasons. The lyrics for the songs came together after Hunter and his wife spent an evening on the town with Garcia and his then girlfriend Barbara Meier. The four of them had a great time reminiscing of times spent in there younger days. The song beauty is in its sentimentality of the night.
They spice up the set with a killer "Good Lovin'," which Bruce tickles the funny bone of. The encore the night with a joyous "The Weight" that Bruce, instead of Vince. It's not lost on me that my favorite show of 1995, doesn't feature a "Samba in the Rain."
Listening to this second set brings me back to some long car trips. I had copies of at least half of the shows from 95 and would listen to them depending on the weather. The liveliness of this show would get me through a spring drive. I'd pop in the Maxell XLII-S and a hundred minutes of pavement would disappear in the rear view mirror. Ahh the good times behind the wheel.

I: Half Step, Wang Dang, Cold Rain, El Paso, Loser, Easy Answers, So Many Roads
II: Unbroken, Scarlet, Fire, Corrina, Matilda, Jam, Drums, Space, Days, Good Lovin' E: The Weight
With Bruce Hornsby

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  1. Loved this show too. It was my first show on that tour, so my first Unbroken Chain :) Holds a special place in my heart. I tried to download but I think both links are Set 1. I'd sure love the 2nd set.

    1. You are correct. I loaded the first set twice. Sorry about that, I updated the links so that the full show is there.

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