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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Roll Away

Jerry Garcia 11/17/78Speaking from experience, it's healthy to step away from a solid diet of Grateful Dead music once in a while. I did it for a multi-year period before starting up this blog, and it was a very good thing. Not only was it refreshing to dive into "other" music with all the daily listening time I had been devoting to the Dead, but in coming back years later, their music opened up like a flower revealing subtle hues I missed in the past. The music spoke with more fine detail and more wide reaching scope than before. I didn’t plan to come back to the Dead when I did, much as I hadn’t planned to step away years earlier. All in all I recommend taking a break from time to time.

In recent weeks I’ve stepped away again. The August 24, 1972 review marked only the first time I had returned to listening to the Dead since early September. And excluding that one show, October 2009 has been a whirlwind adventure into other music; the Grateful Dead receiving nary a thought along the way.

It’s okay. I’m not here to tell you I’m hanging up a closed sign on the blog or anything like that. Not even “gone fishing,” though it may seem a bit like that recently. I’m comfortable that the archives here can keep readers interest (Gosh, I wonder how many folks have read this site cover to cover?) even while I slip away to dabble in other waters.

Regardless, I’m actually well into the research portion (listening) for the guide’s next show review. I won’t let things completely die on the vine. And I did feel like checking in for a moment even if just to pass along a few tidbits.

Somehow,through no doing of my own, the GDLG twitter account password became corrupted last week. If you follow, you might have noticed that @deadlistening has gone completely dark of late. Amazingly frustrating. One can imagine how difficult it is to get any direct support help from such a large “free” service. I really don’t want to have to bail on the account (with its more than 1000 followers) and start over. Hopefully I’ll get lucky soon and find help working through the issues that are somehow preventing my even managing to receive the password reset e-mail via twitter. If you know anyone over at Twitter, I’d appreciate being put in contact. I want my account back.

On a lighter note: While enjoying the next show on the GDLG reviewing bench yesterday while driving home with my 11-year-old, he chimed in from the back seat as the band segued into Truckin’. “This has got to be the Grateful Dead.” It wasn’t because he recognized the familiar tune. He said he knew it because they have a really distinctive sound that let’s you know it’s them every time. I myself had just been marveling at how absolutely archetypical Jerry’s guitar tone was sounding, and we spoke a bit about that distinctive rich, round twang that embodied Garcia’s tone for so many years.

Then, as the band continued singing the tune my son said, “Chicken? Chicken?” I burst out laughing. “Chicken, like the doodah man…”


  1. Noah,

    I have to admit that my initial reaction to the title of this post was quite selfish: "Roll away? That sounds like a farewell!" But after reading further and realizing that you were still "at work" my thoughts turned to my sister who I just had the pleasure of visiting in Western North Carolina. Being nine years older and a child of the '80's, graduating high school in 1988, she was turned on to the Dead via the albums and the very small set of widely unappreciated early 80's bootlegs circulating among her friends.

    I saw how this music affected my sister and I had inklings of its power from the albums I borrowed from her. "Skeleton's" of course but of much greater impact was the "Skull and Roses" album. That Bertha! And Wharf Rat! My young mind spun. And then in the summer of 1990 while I was attending camp in Northern Michigan, Brent Mydland passed. I saw one of my counselors brought to tears as we flew the flag at half mast. (How cool was that?) "Why are you crying?" A simple answer, "Brent died." Without A Net came out that fall and it literally changed my life. This was my band.

    To bring it all full circle, as I was riding in my sister's car on my latest visit to NC, she put in a show from 1993 at Chapel Hill. I was a bit surprised as she normally does not have the Dead on hand anymore and as I remarked on this fact she just smiled and said she had started listening again after a long absence. Jerry was shining on this particular night and it dawned on me that my sister had been front and center for Brent's passing and the transition that followed. Brent's passing more than anything led her away from the band but the fire the band set aflame in her still burns bright. Her education of the band came mostly in the live setting. Imagine discovering Peggy-O or Let It Grow for the first time with dear friends at Pine Knob. Or letting the rapture of Terrapin lift you as you heard Jerry sing "Inspiration! Move me brightly" for the first time. Being born too late, I missed seeing the band play as my sister saw them. I saw them once: at Three Rivers in 1995. Jerry was in ill repair but the "Rain" set coming out of set break blew my mind. My nine month old niece was there. It was her second show; one more than me. I just saw her in NC. She just finished driver's ed last month. Man does time fly....

    My point being, this blog has pointed the way and given me access to untold riches. Dick's Picks were my lifeblood for many years. I had very few friends to trade with and sadly, my tape collection was stolen from my car in college. My 120 tape case gone. Those cases were hard to find. Honestly, I had to special order one from my local record store. They indulged me in my special order as I had spent countless dollars on 20 packs of Memorex 100 minute tapes and bought whatever bootleg, European discs that came in. I bought a fabulous 5 disc solo Jerry box set from that store. I have never seen another copy of that box set. Boogie Records it was called. But I digress...

    I admit that I am one of the few that have read the blog cover to cover. I found it by accident early this year and downloaded every show. Noah, your labors are appreciated more than you will ever know. The "anniversary" shows of note that you post on twitter are most welcome as well. I share your love of 1973 and I have found that I can now pick out a '76 show within a few bars. Amazing how the Dead's sound differs so greatly yet so subtly between years.

    Thank you from a fellow Chicago Deadhead.



  2. I came back to the Dead pretty recently, after being away for a long time - a decade, maybe? Your blog was instrumental returning this music to my life, so I'll give my thanks as well. Next time I'm back home, I'm digging out my old tape cases. I can't wait to see those old photocopied cassette inserts.

    I've actually got a GDLG folder in my iTunes library, and I've saved all the corresponding posts to my Instapaper account. That way I can cue up a show and revisit the article while I listen, and it's all right there on my iPod. Makes long flights go by justlikethat.

    You know, you've also brought me back to concert recordings in general - I've spent the last few weeks listening almost exclusively to '70s Springsteen and Van Morrison shows. So double thanks!

  3. I know that I am an apostate but I know what you mean about having to walk away sometimes. For an unstructured band, things certainly fell into a formula at times. I have over 39 years of being a fan of the dead but sometimes just wished for a two or three minute song. Most of the songs resembled salt water taffy that could be pulled into infinite space in an instant. But I sometimes wondered if the emotions the band were trying to convey were slightly canned. If they ever thought, fuck mythos for a second, I am going to sing about something that makes me genuinely happy or sad? I blogged about my dead feelings this week, if you are interested click on my name and visit "three to get ready and four to fly". I still listen to the dead for a few hours a day but can't live on a constant diet.

  4. Arch, jeffk, Blue Heron -- Thanks for your very thoughtful comments. It reaffirms what I love about doing the blog in the first place.

    And on the iPod Touch?! Fantastic! I'm a classic user myself. But that makes for a perfect union. Sort of the GDLG's ultimate Kindle platform.

    My Twitter reset password request finally came through as mysteriously as this entire lock out debacle began. @deadlistening is back up and running.

  5. Is the photo of the Rambler Room show a portent for things to come?

  6. @wordrpesscloakr from twitter stopping in to say hey. Nice site mate!

  7. Good to have you here, Joe. Hope you enjoy.

    Rambler Room review on the GDLG? Maybe if an AUD turns up. :-)

  8. Although I REALLY like The Grateful Dead, I can't imagine anyone listening to ONLY one band. I betcha' none of the guys in the band only listen to one band. Variety is the spice of life.

    Love your site, man.


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