"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

Monday, June 10, 2013

Settle One Old Score

For the last weeks the weather around here has been just about perfect. Every time I look at my thermometer the temperature is around 73 degrees, the windows are down and the tunes are rocking. My second favorite year in Grateful Dead history is 1973 and today is the 40th anniversary of a mammoth three set show from RFK. All the May 1973 shows the band played were three set shows, the previous show was not a three setter because the Allman Brothers Band closed the show, but on this date the Dead closed out the evening with three sets. For the third set the Brothers stuck around to help them blaze it. Download the show HEREHERE, and HERE.
For the final time in Grateful Dead history, the band opens up a show with "Morning Dew." It's really a genius move to move the audiences conscious after rocking out to two sets of the Allmans. So after changing the tone Bobby changes it yet again by following up the "Dew" with "Beat It On Down The Line." The first feature a hopping "Jack Straw" and the last appearance of "Wave That Flag." The songs lyrical pattern was too confusing for Jerry to keep with, so he made Hunter give him a re-write. This is the only time Garcia did this to Hunter, most of the editing of Grateful Dead songs were by Jerry. Two of the most memorable rewrites are "They Loved Each Other" and "Here Comes Sunshine," and both original versions are played here. The first set closes with two big exploratory jam vehicles in "Bird Song" and "Playin'." The "Bird Song" jam starts off with some good interplay between Jerry and Bobby before both follow Phil's playing, a common theme at this show. The "Playin'" jam is all about Jerry Getting weird on the guitar. His leads throughout the jam aggressively lead the band into the weird. Although the "Playin'" is under 20 minutes long, it feels like it is much longer because of the weirdness.
 The second set starts off with a beautiful "Eyes/Stella Blue" combo. The lead bassist Phil Lesh definitely establishes himself here as being the driver of this song and set. Phil squeaks in his fills throughout the Jerry solos, then dominates the outro jam. Phil lays it down to the point, were Jerry clearly follows him as he signals the end of "Stella Blue." Lead Bass! The floppy hatted Lesh steals the "Dark Star" later in the set. Amidst all the chaos of the "Dark Star" the utter domination of bass floppy hat, the rest of his band mates slow and pause as the lead bassist solos. The rifting slowly moves into a blues jaunt that the rest of the band picks up on and the jam leads them into the harrowing verse. The band shoots back into a chaotic jam of echoing feedback as another blues rift is played, but this time by Garcia, as the slow glow of "He's Gone" is played. After the serene "Wharf Rat," the music starts twisting and turning as "Truckin'" comes flying out of it. But for as much energy as the "Truckin'" produces, it fizzles quite quickly after the verses. Let's face it, five years later the second set would have ended after the "Around" if there was a drums solo thrown in there somewhere. Bobby unhappy with the fizzle closes the set with a pumping "Sugar Mags." 
The third set opens with two Grateful Dead debuts; "Train to Cry" and "That's Alright Mama," and neither song would preformed again by the Dead for next 18 and 13 years respectively. Both songs though were songs that Jerry Garcia preformed for years with his solo projects. "Train to Cry" sounds like the Dead preforming it, but "That's Alright Mama" is when the Allman's flavor starts taking over. The Dickie Betts solo transforms "That's Alright" into "Jessica" and then "Blue Sky." Each of the four guitarist has their own distinct tone. Each one is great. The "Promised" is a bit slower and not as potent as the normal, but it has a little more flare. The "Not Fade/Going Down The Road" is fantastic, energetic and electric. Sizzling solos and soaring vocals make this a stand out version among the plethora version of the combo. The "Johnny B Goode" might as well have lit the stage on fire because no one else could have managed to provide the heat that these band provided on this night. 
I: Dew, BIODTL, Ramble, Straw, Wave That Flag, LLRain, Box, TLEO, Race is On, Row Jimmy, El Paso, Bird Song, Playin'
II: Eyes, Stella, Big River, HC Sunshine, Around, Dark Star, He's Gone, Wharf Rat, Truckin', Sugar Mags
III: Train to Cry, That's Alright Mama, Promised, NFA, GDTRFB, Drums, NFA, JBG
*The Third Set with the Allman Brothers Band

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