The narrator of The Weight has wandered into the most passive-aggressive town I’ve ever heard of. All the poor guy wants is a little hospitality and these conniving townsfolk–seeing a sucker coming, I guess–saddle him with a dog to feed, toss him Miss Anna Lee to take care of, and make him listen to Phil sing a verse.
Later on, the townsfolk would steal the narrator’s identity, pick his pockets, elect him mayor, then indict him on trumped-up corruption charges.
Continuing with the awful guitar theme, we come to Phil’s (unexpected) dalliance with one of those acoustic-electic bass guitars that never sounded any good and made you look like the unlucky Mexican guy who had to play the enormously fat Mexican guitar. They had to be enormous to keep that low-E string from ripping the whole thing in two before it was even near tuned up; when it was, the timbre was that of “kaGONgfwabble.” (The “fwabble” was the metallic rattling noise that every single one of those things made with every damn note.)
Phil’s general m.o. during Acoustic Dead sets was to stand in the back, nurse his buzz, and wait for Bird Song to come around. Otherwise, it’s just root notes and a nice bottle of red. And the thing is: no one ever minded. No one ever bitched about it not being totally acoustic, man, because Deadheads aren’t complete idiots.
Those things came into being because of Unplugged, the MTV show where, say, Poison pretended to be musicians via the strategic use of stools. You could judge the artists’ authenticity and their sincerity through their stool usage. Eddie Vedder once stood on his stool, so he won.
No one was allowed to use electric instruments. the mics and camera were fine, though. Also, extensive overdubbing and retakes would be done to polish the performance, but there had to be a hole in the guitar or you couldn’t play. Also, the drummer was allowed to bring his enormous, double-kick drum heavy metal drum kit, but he had to abandon it for at least one song to half-assedly smack some congas while taking a vocal.
The guitarists were fine with acoustics guitars, but the bass player was always fucked because the acoustic version of a bass is the size of the Monolith from 2001 and just as tough to transport. Most idiot rock bassists wouldn’t even know how to hold the thing, let alone play it, let alone use the bow.
Just forget the bow.
So there were these monstrosities, which I had thought Phil immune to. You live, you learn: Alannis said that shit.
Also: Sweet Eleanor’s asshole, Garcia: go backstage and change into human clothes. You look like a mailman who lets rain, snow, or sleet stop him in his tracks.
We ony have a few years before our skin starts to unravel: we’ll all be crab apples in August soon enough. The telomeres wind down, you see: chain links falling off the table and count down and down and there is definite check-out time. It’s just the hotel won’t tell us when it is, but they will let you know.
Billy has aged well, mostly because he is a crazy person and has been so for decades now. If one rounds generously, Billy has been out of his mind for a century. Plus, he was always a bit overweight and had started balding at the same month as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; he wasn’t the heart throb of the group.
Complete lunatics have a better relationship with death than the rest of us: they think it’s for other people.
TotD concludes Touch of Grey Day with an AUD of 12/15/86, Garcia’s comeback show. Yes, yes: AUDs are for weirdos, extremists, and recidivists, but this one requires the full-blooded jubilance of the crowd to be whole; besides, the mix is actually good for an AUD: clear and as wide as can be.
It’s a simple song: verse, chorus, a few too many more verses, the bridge-iest bridge in Dead history, then the chorus again and it was EVERYWHERE that summer. MTV did a special Day of the Dead weekend in which they sent J. J. Jackson to the Giant Stadium show. He was unbelievably easy to find in the crowd.
More people showed up: “Dude, I am STOKED to hear Hairy Garcia!” Maybe one in twenty stayed around, one in one hundred. Turns out lots of people wanted to hear the music play; that there are not many paces in the world that want to accommodate a 70,000-strong army of hippies is not the song’s fault. Don’t blame the song for what we did with it. It’s a good little song.