Living, Breathing, Hissing Dead

9 Dec

As I sit here, trying to come to terms with yet another Dick’s Pick’s set (this one happens to be Vol. 32, live from August 7, 1982, at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin – which the liners tell me is mastered from freakin’ cassette) I feel it necessary to emphasize a few vital but all-too-often ignored points re: the singular nature of THE GRATEFUL DEAD. All you jaded, punkass mofos out there who’d rather piss on them: you just don’t know what you’re missing.


  • No other band in the history of rock ‘n’ roll ever prioritized LIVE to the sheer, maddening extreme that THE GRATEFUL DEAD did. This stance grew out of a firm belief that music was something to be discovered, hammered out, bent, altered and honed in real time, in relation to actual people, places, experiences and emotions. It was an approach once reserved for jazz players, but well, LSD sure does have a way of suggesting new vistas of possibility to even hardened control-freaks. And these SF longhairs learned from their trips. Boy, did they ever.
  • GDsound

  • No other band in the history of rock ‘n’ roll toured as long and hard as THE GRATEFUL DEAD. You think Ginn’s BLACK FLAG were on the road alot? Brother, Jerry & co. played – count ’em – 2,317 concerts over a 20 year-long tour history! Check out this insane, endless journey here.
  • DavidLemieux

  • No other band in the history of rock ‘n’ roll has documented their in-concert thing so goddamn rigorously as THE GRATEFUL DEAD. GD techs like Owsley Stanley and Dan Healy patiently toiled for years to attain superior on-stage sound and balanced sonic documentation, while archivists like Dick Latvala and David Lemieux made sure the tapes were preserved, cleaned-up and released to the insatiable tie-dyed public from the ’80s onwards. A ballpark count on my part tells me the band has authorized upwards of 75 live albums to date, most of which are multi-disc sets. And this is merely the tip of a vast, iceberg-like collection of recordings in extant in the vaults. Nuts!
  • GDtapes

  • Finally, no other band in the history of rock ‘n’ roll has fans that actively helped shape the listening experience quite like those of THE GRATEFUL DEAD. Confused Deadheads everywhere (that’s you, Nazz Nomad) used to record and pass ragged, homemade tapes – like little hand-rolled joints! – from one greasy hippie palm to another. And then what a truly hairy experience the listening becomes – when you can’t be sure that what you just heard was Jerry’s gtr feedback, the taper’s girlfriend sneezing, or the threadbare ribbon hiss at the end of a warped cassette! Once I stuck my little toe into this imposing body of work, I discovered there was, literally, no way out. Getting my head round it all was next to impossible. And when I returned to the studio recordings (all respectable stuff fr sure), I found they sounded more like well-rehearsed afterthoughts of the larger, neverending live GD train-of-thought. I’m ruined, and for life!
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    5 Responses to “Living, Breathing, Hissing Dead”

    1. mark December 10, 2007 at 4:44 pm #

      Don’t forget the Rex Foundation. Not part of the musical territory, I know. That said, I was looking at Yeti #1 this weekend, and read in the Harry Smith article how Rex was giving him $10, 000 per year for three years as a research grant. I know they helped other “obscurities” over the years as well. Glad to see they didn’t spend it all on black tar and pinot noir. Gotta hand it to ’em for that as well. Or not. They’re a very divisive band.

    2. mrowster December 10, 2007 at 6:13 pm #

      I don’t know anything about THE DEAD’s philanthropic efforts – but any funding given to Harry Smith gets a big thumbs up from me.

    3. nazz nomad December 10, 2007 at 11:22 pm #

      there are undoubtedly tapes in circulation all over the world with me and my wasted buddies screaming out the wrong lyrics to Terrapin Station.

      And one disclaimer: I never personally taped a show!!!!!!!!!!!

    4. mrowster December 11, 2007 at 7:24 am #

      Nazz: So that was YOU hootin’ it up on the Madison Square Garden tape from ’87 I’ve got!

    5. nazz nomad December 11, 2007 at 9:19 pm #

      grateful dead september 18 1987-
      Hell In A Bucket-> Sugaree-> Walkin’ Blues, Candyman, When I Paint My Masterpiece, Bird Song Shakedown Street-> Women Are Smarter-> Terrapin Station-> Drums-> Jam-> Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad-> All Along The Watchtower-> Morning Dew-> Good Lovin’-> La Bamba-> Good Lovin’ E: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

      if that’s the show you got, and there are moron’s screaming Terrapin incoherently, than that’s probably us!

      those were the daze… The Dead at MSG were awesome.

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