"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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mister Death

Today we go back to my favorite Grateful Dead Halloween gig, which comes from 1991. It's my favorite because there is some excellent playing by the boys, the song selection is primo, and the emotional read by Kesey makes the show special, unique, and heartfelt. Download the soundboard HERE and HERE.
The show opens with a fantastic "Help/Slip/Franks," which is very Phil heavy but is punctuated by some very cool calling and answering playing between Jerry and Bruce. This interplay is also prevelent on the "Let It Grow," where Jerry and Bruce play off of each other with Phil laying bombs. 
A rather joyous and uplifting "Scarlet Begonias" opens the second set. There is a playfulness that one can hear in Jerry's voice. The "Fire" is where the set starts to turn dark, although Bobby lets loose on the "Truckin'/Spoonful." 
The "Dark Star" tone is one of sorrow, esspecially considering that the band lost their long time collabrator Bill Graham on October 25th. After a Huey Lewis concert, Bill and his girlfriend died in a helicopter crash. If I can suggest one Rock and Roll book to read, try "Bill Graham Presents," it is compiled by Robert Greenfield who also wrote the Jerry Garcia oral biography "Dark Star." It's after the verse that the second special guest of the night comes appears. Ken Kesey addresses the crowd about the recent passing of Bill Graham and mentions his generiousity of spirit for donating a bronze relief structure at the summit of Mount Pisgah in memory of Kesey's late son Jed. Kesey was obviously very touched by the gesture, which is why 6 years after his passing, he cites the memorial. Then Kesey recites this poem:
(Buffalo Bill) by ee cummings
Buffalo Bill's 

                     who used to 
                     ride a watersmooth-silver
and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat 

he was a handsome man
                                                             and what i want to know is
how do you like your blueeyed boy
Mister Death
The rest of the set can be read as a tribute to Bill Graham in the song selections like "This maybe be the Last Time," "Standing on the Moon," and "Not Fade Away." The first show the Dead played after Bill Graham died, they encored with "Knockin' on Heavens Door" as a tribute to their friend. But on this night the Dead conclude the show with their last ever performance of "Werewolves of London." As Jerry started on Halloween 1987, he changes the chorus to address the place that they are playing by singing "Werewolves of Oakland."
I: Help, Slip, Franks, Rooster, Loser, Tom Thumbs, Let It Grow
II: Scarlet, Fire, Truckin', Spoonful*, Dark Star*, Jam**, Drums, Space*, Dark Star*, Last Time*, SOTM, T Stones, NFA E: Werewolves*
*With Gary Duncan **Also Ken Kesey

No comments:

Post a Comment