Thoughts on the Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Yes, We Have No Pianos

band 74 wos 7:21

Reasons for a backup piano:

  • First-string piano tears its ACL.
  • Leverage in contract negotiations.
  • Keith liked to play them both at the same time, stretching his arms out like Christ (if Christ were the keyboardist in Yes) to tinkle both sets of ivories. When Phil rightly pointed out that he wasn’t actually accomplishing anything, Keith fired back: “YOU’RE NOT–” and passed out.
  • There was a Buy One Get One sale at The Piano Barn and passing up that kind of deal is criminal.
  • Pianos should always be kept in pairs or they get lonely and often display obsessive behavior.
  • After the actual show, Keith, Bobby, and Mrs. Donna Jean would entertain a select few fans with their Fabulous Baker Boys routine. It was a failure because Mrs. Donna Jean is no one’s idea of a sultry chanteuse, Bobby does not really know how to play the piano, and Keith would burst into tears during Making Whoopie.
  • It’s where the drugs are stashed. Used to be a guitar case, then a speaker enclosure, now a piano.
  • It just followed the Grateful Dead home one day. The Grateful Dead’s mom was all, “You already have an enormous piano,” and the Grateful Dead was all, “I promise I’ll transport it around the country ar great expense,” and Mom was all, “Okay,” and the Dead was all, “YAAAY!”
  • Billy Joel might show up.
  • Due to a malfunction with the Time Sheath technology (Mickey played drums on it until it spazzed out,) the piano to the right is actually the same piano as the one on the left, except from ten minutes from now. It’s fine as long as they don’t touch because that would decreate the universe.
  • They started the tour with six; this is all that’s left.

Patriotic Thought

I am a big fan of those “soldier returns home” videos, especially the ones with the animals. (I don’t care much for the familial reunions.) They’re almost all dogs, at least several of whom are so excited to see THE GUY that they give lie to that nonsense about dogs not having a concept of time. occasionally, there are videos with cats: these are played for laughs, because cats do deadpan better than Christopher Guest and also hate America, so they don’t much care about the service member’s arrival home.

What’s missing is a video in which the soldier keeps exotic pets that don’t remember him at all because they’re tigers or emus or whatever crazy shit idiots are allowed to keep out back; instead of welcoming him home, all the animals are just frightened by the sudden appearance of a strange person and the whole menagerie goes to town on him: mauling, goring, clawing, toothing, talonning–all the animalling there is.

My Brother Ug

jerry outside travis bean

This is a rare photo of the notoriously publicity-averse Precarious Lee, lounging directly under some equipment he had stacked up.

Born to a one-eyed Chinese woman and a Merchant Marine with balance issues and a penchant for giving his children silly names and then abandoning them, Precarious was abandoned soon after birth and raised in a Bangkok orphanage called Our Ladyboy of Mercy’s Home for Urchins. His obvious lack of skill manifested early when, while playing with blocks, he killed three of the other children. Soon, officials made his travel everywhere with a rubble-sniffing dog, just in case. This was too much for the orphanage to bear financially, and they sent Precarious Lee to the States.

He soon became some sort of spastic Zelig, appearing wherever engineering principles had been thrown to the wind in favor of Precarious’ method: eyeballin’ it. (Precarious once boasted that he could eyeball an appendectomy; the jury found that the patient’s death by decapitation was almost entirely the fault of the doctors and hospital administrators who let the surgery take place.)

He arranged security at Altamont, crowd logistics for The Who in Cincinnati in ’79, worked pyro for Great White. Currently, he gives TED talks on why Twitter is worth $20 billion.

Jerry Curl

jerry red shirt no beard wolf

Garcia had fewer chins than a phonebook from anti-Chinatown. Or an anti-phonebook from Chinatown. Whichever you can wrap your head around easier.

Also: the fro-and-muttonchops look didn’t work in the Teen Titans, and it doesn’t work here.


Midnight Hour

donna bobby jerry phil billy nye

Mister, you take that fucking ball cap off right the fuck now. This is not a baseball cap band. You’ve crossed the line, Lesh!

Meadow Tenor And Baritone

jerry billy bobby lindley wha?

Another cool shot from the legendary (and criminally unreleased) Lindley Meadows show in ’75. Garcia is yelling at someone getting too close to his hoagie; Bobby is looking at Goose, who is a giant duck, good friend of Bobby, and imaginary; Billy is taking a piss.

Rhythm Dissection

billy mickey phil rocking

So many questions:

  • Why is Phil wearing hobo jeans?
  • Did Mickey wash the bowl his mother used to cut his hair before making his world-famous Micky-roni and cheese?
  • How bad should one feel about one’s life choices that it was so easy to recognize Parish by just his beefy forearm and the side of his afro?
  • Honestly: were these men sponsored by the naked scaffolding and hastily nailed-together plywood industries?
  • Is there anything symbolic about Phil not paying the slightest bit of attention to the drummers?
  • Did Billy and Mickey fuck with Phil by deliberately excluding him from group chats and trips to the food court by saying, “Sorry, Phil: mustaches only.”
  • Was Garcia allowed at mustache-only events? (Mickey said sure: beard contains mustache; Billy said no: beard supersedes and encompasses mustache. In the end, it didn’t matter because Garcia didn’t want to hang out with the drummers, anyway.)
  • Does Phil have to make pee-pee?

A Wall By Any Other Name

phil beard bobby wall color

“The Berm of Sound.”


“The Palisade of Sound.”


“The Vertical Ceiling/Floor of Sound.”

“That’s a reach. Why don’t we just go with our first idea?”

Amp, Stack

jerry strumming travis bean

Forgotten road crew member Precarious Lee didn’t know exactly where he wanted to put the giant wooden boxes full of glass bottles of water and poorly-sealed bags of pure sodium; in the end, he just went with his usual strategy: stacking things up real high and crooked-like.

Heart Of Sweat Band

phil music man dork

SYMBIOSIS: Most scientists have come to the consensus that Phil and his sweatband are mutually beneficial, with Phil providing sustenance and security and the sweatband secreting a substance that, chemically, lies somewhere in the middle of heroin, amphetamines, and powdered grizzly bear testicles. (Phil calls the substance his “honkytonk juice.”)

PARASITISM: There is also evidence for this hypothesis, as the sweatband has nearly tripled in size since its first appearance. Also, Phil is adamant in his claim that he’s not wearing a sweatband, but if you try to remove it, he will lose his shit and attack you using whatever is at hand as an improvised weapon such as a large crucifix, a holy water cistern, or a still-smoking censer. (I am assuming you would attempt to take the sweatband off while Phil was attending Mass.)

FUCKED-UP MOLE: It’s just a fucked-up mole.

ALIENS: Princeton University bookstore shoplifter Jimmy Smiths proposes that Phil is actually a Cat Person from Felicidae IV, throneworld to the Felis Empire; therefore, his genitals are on his right forearm. Jimmy has lost touch with most of his friends.

ILLEGAL ALIENS: Billy has, on plentiful occasions and in varied states of consciousness, accused Phil of being a Coyoté and smuggling Mexicans in to the country via his sweatband. When asked how on earth that would be possible, Billy responded, “Our sound system came to life, we have a time travel device, Garcia’s briefcase is infinitely large on the inside: why wouldn’t my idea work?” He has a point, to be honest.


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