A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 165 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Dark Stat” and the career of the Grateful Dead. This is a long one, even longer than the previous episode, but don't worry, that won't be the norm. There's a reason these two were much longer than average. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a twenty-minute bonus episode available, on "Codine" by the Charlatans. Errata I mispronounce Brent Mydland's name as Myland a couple of times, and in the introduction I say "Touch of Grey" came out in 1988 -- I later, correctly, say 1987. (I seem to have had a real problem with dates in the intro -- I also originally talked about "Blue Suede Shoes" being in 1954 before fixing it in the edit to be 1956) Resources No Mixcloud this week, as there are too many songs by the Grateful Dead, and Grayfolded runs to two hours. I referred to a lot of books for this episode, partly because almost everything about the Grateful Dead is written from a fannish perspective that already assumes background knowledge, rather than to provide that background knowledge. Of the various books I used, Dennis McNally's biography of the band and This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead by Blair Jackson and David Gans are probably most useful for the casually interested. Other books on the Dead I used included McNally's Jerry on Jerry, a collection of interviews with Garcia; Deal, Bill Kreutzmann's autobiography; The Grateful Dead FAQ by Tony Sclafani; So Many Roads by David Browne; Deadology by Howard F. Weiner; Fare Thee Well by Joel Selvin and Pamela Turley; and Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads by David Shenk and Steve Silberman. Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is the classic account of the Pranksters, though not always reliable. I reference Slaughterhouse Five a lot. As well as the novel itself, which everyone should read, I also read this rather excellent graphic novel adaptation, and The Writer's Crusade, a book about the writing of the novel. I also reference Ted Sturgeon's More Than Human. For background on the scene around Astounding Science Fiction which included Sturgeon, John W. Campbell, L. Ron Hubbard, and many other science fiction writers, I recommend Alec Nevala-Lee's Astounding. 1,000 True Fans can be read online, as can the essay on the Californian ideology, and John Perry Barlow's "Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace". The best collection of Grateful Dead material is the box set The Golden Road, which contains all the albums released in Pigpen's lifetime along with a lot of bonus material, but which appears currently out of print. Live/Dead contains both the live version of "Dark Star" which made it well known and, as a CD bonus track, the original single version. And archive.org has more live recordings of the group than you can possibly ever listen to. Grayfolded can be bought from John Oswald's Bandcamp Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript [Excerpt: Tuning from "Grayfolded", under the warnings Before we begin -- as we're tuning up, as it were, I should mention that this episode contains discussions of alcoholism, drug addiction, racism, nonconsensual drugging of other people, and deaths from drug abuse, suicide, and car accidents. As always, I try to deal with these subjects as carefully as possible, but if you find any of those things upsetting you may wish to read the transcript rather than listen to this episode, or skip it altogether. Also, I should note that the members of the Grateful Dead were much freer with their use of swearing in interviews than any other band we've covered so far, and that makes using quotes from them rather more difficult than with other bands, given the limitations of the rules imposed to stop the podcast being marked as adult. If I quote anything with a word I can't use here, I'll give a brief pause in the audio, and in the transcript I'll have the word in square brackets. [tuning ends] All this happened, more or less. In 1910, T. S. Eliot started work on "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", which at the time was deemed barely poetry, with one reviewer imagining Eliot saying "I'll just put down the first thing that comes into my head, and call it 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.'" It is now considered one of the great classics of modernist literature. In 1969, Kurt Vonnegut wrote "Slaughterhouse-Five, or, The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death", a book in which the protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, comes unstuck in time, and starts living a nonlinear life, hopping around between times reliving his experiences in the Second World War, and future experiences up to 1976 after being kidnapped by beings from the planet Tralfamadore. Or perhaps he has flashbacks and hallucinations after having a breakdown from PTSD. It is now considered one of the great classics of modernist literature or of science fiction, depending on how you look at it. In 1953, Theodore Sturgeon wrote More Than Human. It is now considered one of the great classics of science fiction. In 1950, L. Ron Hubbard wrote Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. It is now considered either a bad piece of science fiction or one of the great revelatory works of religious history, depending on how you look at it. In 1994, 1995, and 1996 the composer John Oswald released, first as two individual CDs and then as a double-CD, an album called Grayfolded, which the composer says in the liner notes he thinks of as existing in Tralfamadorian time. The Tralfamadorians in Vonnegut's novels don't see time as a linear thing with a beginning and end, but as a continuum that they can move between at will. When someone dies, they just think that at this particular point in time they're not doing so good, but at other points in time they're fine, so why focus on the bad time? In the book, when told of someone dying, the Tralfamadorians just say "so it goes". In between the first CD's release and the release of the double-CD version, Jerry Garcia died. From August 1942 through August 1995, Jerry Garcia was alive. So it goes. Shall we go, you and I? [Excerpt: The Grateful Dead, "Dark Star (Omni 3/30/94)"] "One principle has become clear. Since motives are so frequently found in combination, it is essential that the complex types be analyzed and arranged, with an eye kept single nevertheless to the master-theme under discussion. Collectors, both primary and subsidiary, have done such valiant service that the treasures at our command are amply sufficient for such studies, so extensive, indeed, that the task of going through them thoroughly has become too great for the unassisted student. It cannot be too strongly urged that a single theme in its various types and compounds must be made predominant in any useful comparative study. This is true when the sources and analogues of any literary work are treated; it is even truer when the bare motive is discussed. The Grateful Dead furnishes an apt illustration of the necessity of such handling. It appears in a variety of different combinations, almost never alone. Indeed, it is so widespread a tale, and its combinations are so various, that there is the utmost difficulty in determining just what may properly be regarded the original kernel of it, the simple theme to which other motives were joined. Various opinions, as we shall see, have been held with reference to this matter, most of them justified perhaps by the materials in the hands of the scholars holding them, but none quite adequate in view of later evidence." That's a quote from The Grateful Dead: The History of a Folk Story, by Gordon Hall Gerould, published in 1908. Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse-Five opens with a chapter about the process of writing the novel itself, and how difficult it was. He says "I would hate to tell you what this lousy little book cost me in money and anxiety and time. When I got home from the Second World War twenty-three years ago, I thought it would be easy for me to write about the destruction of Dresden, since all I would have to do would be to report what I had seen. And I thought, too, that it would be a masterpiece or at least make me a lot of money, since the subject was so big." This is an episode several of my listeners have been looking forward to, but it's one I've been dreading writing, because this is an episode -- I think the only one in the series -- where the format of the podcast simply *will not* work. Were the Grateful Dead not such an important band, I would skip this episode altogether, but they're a band that simply can't be ignored, and that's a real problem here. Because my intent, always, with this podcast, is to present the recordings of the artists in question, put them in context, and explain why they were important, what their music meant to its listeners. To put, as far as is possible, the positive case for why the music mattered *in the context of its time*. Not why it matters now, or why it matters to me, but why it matters *in its historical context*. Whether I like the music or not isn't the point. Whether it stands up now isn't the point. I play the music, explain what it was they were doing, why they were doing it, what people saw in it. If I do my job well, you come away listening to "Blue Suede Shoes" the way people heard it in 1956, or "Good Vibrations" the way people heard it in 1966, and understanding why people were so impressed by those records. That is simply *not possible* for the Grateful Dead. I can present a case for them as musicians, and hope to do so. I can explain the appeal as best I understand it, and talk about things I like in their music, and things I've noticed. But what I can't do is present their recordings the way they were received in the sixties and explain why they were popular. Because every other act I have covered or will cover in this podcast has been a *recording* act, and their success was based on records. They may also have been exceptional live performers, but James Brown or Ike and Tina Turner are remembered for great *records*, like "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" or "River Deep, Mountain High". Their great moments were captured on vinyl, to be listened back to, and susceptible of analysis. That is not the case for the Grateful Dead, and what is worse *they explicitly said, publicly, on multiple occasions* that it is not possible for me to understand their art, and thus that it is not possible for me to explain it. The Grateful Dead did make studio records, some of them very good. But they always said, consistently, over a thirty year period, that their records didn't capture what they did, and that the only way -- the *only* way, they were very clear about this -- that one could actually understand and appreciate their music, was to see them live, and furthermore to see them live while on psychedelic drugs. [Excerpt: Grateful Dead crowd noise] I never saw the Grateful Dead live -- their last UK performance was a couple of years before I went to my first ever gig -- and I have never taken a psychedelic substance. So by the Grateful Dead's own criteria, it is literally impossible for me to understand or explain their music the way that it should be understood or explained. In a way I'm in a similar position to the one I was in with La Monte Young in the last episode, whose music it's mostly impossible to experience without being in his presence. This is one reason of several why I placed these two episodes back to back. Of course, there is a difference between Young and the Grateful Dead. The Grateful Dead allowed -- even encouraged -- the recording of their live performances. There are literally thousands of concert recordings in circulation, many of them of professional quality. I have listened to many of those, and I can hear what they were doing. I can tell you what *I* think is interesting about their music, and about their musicianship. And I think I can build up a good case for why they were important, and why they're interesting, and why those recordings are worth listening to. And I can certainly explain the cultural phenomenon that was the Grateful Dead. But just know that while I may have found *a* point, *an* explanation for why the Grateful Dead were important, by the band's own lights and those of their fans, no matter how good a job I do in this episode, I *cannot* get it right. And that is, in itself, enough of a reason for this episode to exist, and for me to try, even harder than I normally do, to get it right *anyway*. Because no matter how well I do my job this episode will stand as an example of why this series is called "*A* History", not *the* history. Because parts of the past are ephemeral. There are things about which it's true to say "You had to be there". I cannot know what it was like to have been an American the day Kennedy was shot, I cannot know what it was like to be alive when a man walked on the Moon. Those are things nobody my age or younger can ever experience. And since August the ninth, 1995, the experience of hearing the Grateful Dead's music the way they wanted it heard has been in that category. And that is by design. Jerry Garcia once said "if you work really hard as an artist, you may be able to build something they can't tear down, you know, after you're gone... What I want to do is I want it here. I want it now, in this lifetime. I want what I enjoy to last as long as I do and not last any longer. You know, I don't want something that ends up being as much a nuisance as it is a work of art, you know?" And there's another difficulty. There are only two points in time where it makes sense to do a podcast episode on the Grateful Dead -- late 1967 and early 1968, when the San Francisco scene they were part of was at its most culturally relevant, and 1988 when they had their only top ten hit and gained their largest audience. I can't realistically leave them out of the story until 1988, so it has to be 1968. But the songs they are most remembered for are those they wrote between 1970 and 1972, and those songs are influenced by artists and events we haven't yet covered in the podcast, who will be getting their own episodes in the future. I can't explain those things in this episode, because they need whole episodes of their own. I can't not explain them without leaving out important context for the Grateful Dead. So the best I can do is treat the story I'm telling as if it were in Tralfamadorian time. All of it's happening all at once, and some of it is happening in different episodes that haven't been recorded yet. The podcast as a whole travels linearly from 1938 through to 1999, but this episode is happening in 1968 and 1972 and 1988 and 1995 and other times, all at once. Sometimes I'll talk about things as if you're already familiar with them, but they haven't happened yet in the story. Feel free to come unstuck in time and revisit this time after episode 167, and 172, and 176, and 192, and experience it again. So this has to be an experimental episode. It may well be an experiment that you think fails. If so, the next episode is likely to be far more to your taste, and much shorter than this or the last episode, two episodes that between them have to create a scaffolding on which will hang much of the rest of this podcast's narrative. I've finished my Grateful Dead script now. The next one I write is going to be fun: [Excerpt: Grateful Dead, "Dark Star"] Infrastructure means everything. How we get from place to place, how we transport goods, information, and ourselves, makes a big difference in how society is structured, and in the music we hear. For many centuries, the prime means of long-distance transport was by water -- sailing ships on the ocean, canal boats and steamboats for inland navigation -- and so folk songs talked about the ship as both means of escape, means of making a living, and in some senses as a trap. You'd go out to sea for adventure, or to escape your problems, but you'd find that the sea itself brought its own problems. Because of this we have a long, long tradition of sea shanties which are known throughout the world: [Excerpt: A. L. Lloyd, "Off to Sea Once More"] But in the nineteenth century, the railway was invented and, at least as far as travel within a landmass goes, it replaced the steamboat in the popular imaginary. Now the railway was how you got from place to place, and how you moved freight from one place to another. The railway brought freedom, and was an opportunity for outlaws, whether train robbers or a romanticised version of the hobo hopping onto a freight train and making his way to new lands and new opportunity. It was the train that brought soldiers home from wars, and the train that allowed the Great Migration of Black people from the South to the industrial North. There would still be songs about the riverboats, about how ol' man river keeps rolling along and about the big river Johnny Cash sang about, but increasingly they would be songs of the past, not the present. The train quickly replaced the steamboat in the iconography of what we now think of as roots music -- blues, country, folk, and early jazz music. Sometimes this was very literal. Furry Lewis' "Kassie Jones" -- about a legendary train driver who would break the rules to make sure his train made the station on time, but who ended up sacrificing his own life to save his passengers in a train crash -- is based on "Alabamy Bound", which as we heard in the episode on "Stagger Lee", was about steamboats: [Excerpt: Furry Lewis, "Kassie Jones"] In the early episodes of this podcast we heard many, many, songs about the railway. Louis Jordan saying "take me right back to the track, Jack", Rosetta Tharpe singing about how "this train don't carry no gamblers", the trickster freight train driver driving on the "Rock Island Line", the mystery train sixteen coaches long, the train that kept-a-rollin' all night long, the Midnight Special which the prisoners wished would shine its ever-loving light on them, and the train coming past Folsom Prison whose whistle makes Johnny Cash hang his head and cry. But by the 1960s, that kind of song had started to dry up. It would happen on occasion -- "People Get Ready" by the Impressions is the most obvious example of the train metaphor in an important sixties record -- but by the late sixties the train was no longer a symbol of freedom but of the past. In 1969 Harry Nilsson sang about how "Nobody Cares About the Railroads Any More", and in 1968 the Kinks sang about "The Last of the Steam-Powered Trains". When in 1968 Merle Haggard sang about a freight train, it was as a memory, of a child with hopes that ended up thwarted by reality and his own nature: [Excerpt: Merle Haggard, "Mama Tried"] And the reason for this was that there had been another shift, a shift that had started in the forties and accelerated in the late fifties but had taken a little time to ripple through the culture. Now the train had been replaced in the popular imaginary by motorised transport. Instead of hopping on a train without paying, if you had no money in your pocket you'd have to hitch-hike all the way. Freedom now meant individuality. The ultimate in freedom was the biker -- the Hell's Angels who could go anywhere, unburdened by anything -- and instead of goods being moved by freight train, increasingly they were being moved by truck drivers. By the mid-seventies, truck drivers took a central place in American life, and the most romantic way to live life was to live it on the road. On The Road was also the title of a 1957 novel by Jack Kerouac, which was one of the first major signs of this cultural shift in America. Kerouac was writing about events in the late forties and early fifties, but his book was also a precursor of the sixties counterculture. He wrote the book on one continuous sheet of paper, as a stream of consciousness. Kerouac died in 1969 of an internal haemmorage brought on by too much alcohol consumption. So it goes. But the big key to this cultural shift was caused by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, a massive infrastructure spending bill that led to the construction of the modern American Interstate Highway system. This accelerated a program that had already started, of building much bigger, safer, faster roads. It also, as anyone who has read Robert Caro's The Power Broker knows, reinforced segregation and white flight. It did this both by making commuting into major cities from the suburbs easier -- thus allowing white people with more money to move further away from the cities and still work there -- and by bulldozing community spaces where Black people lived. More than a million people lost their homes and were forcibly moved, and orders of magnitude more lost their communities' parks and green spaces. And both as a result of deliberate actions and unconscious bigotry, the bulk of those affected were Black people -- who often found themselves, if they weren't forced to move, on one side of a ten-lane highway where the park used to be, with white people on the other side of the highway. The Federal-Aid Highway Act gave even more power to the unaccountable central planners like Robert Moses, the urban planner in New York who managed to become arguably the most powerful man in the city without ever getting elected, partly by slowly compromising away his early progressive ideals in the service of gaining more power. Of course, not every new highway was built through areas where poor Black people lived. Some were planned to go through richer areas for white people, just because you can't completely do away with geographical realities. For example one was planned to be built through part of San Francisco, a rich, white part. But the people who owned properties in that area had enough political power and clout to fight the development, and after nearly a decade of fighting it, the development was called off in late 1966. But over that time, many of the owners of the impressive buildings in the area had moved out, and they had no incentive to improve or maintain their properties while they were under threat of demolition, so many of them were rented out very cheaply. And when the beat community that Kerouac wrote about, many of whom had settled in San Francisco, grew too large and notorious for the area of the city they were in, North Beach, many of them moved to these cheap homes in a previously-exclusive area. The area known as Haight-Ashbury. [Excerpt: The Grateful Dead, "Grayfolded"] Stories all have their starts, even stories told in Tralfamadorian time, although sometimes those starts are shrouded in legend. For example, the story of Scientology's start has been told many times, with different people claiming to have heard L. Ron Hubbard talk about how writing was a mug's game, and if you wanted to make real money, you needed to get followers, start a religion. Either he said this over and over and over again, to many different science fiction writers, or most science fiction writers of his generation were liars. Of course, the definition of a writer is someone who tells lies for money, so who knows? One of the more plausible accounts of him saying that is given by Theodore Sturgeon. Sturgeon's account is more believable than most, because Sturgeon went on to be a supporter of Dianetics, the "new science" that Hubbard turned into his religion, for decades, even while telling the story. The story of the Grateful Dead probably starts as it ends, with Jerry Garcia. There are three things that everyone writing about the Dead says about Garcia's childhood, so we might as well say them here too. The first is that he was named by a music-loving father after Jerome Kern, the songwriter responsible for songs like "Ol' Man River" (though as Oscar Hammerstein's widow liked to point out, "Jerome Kern wrote dum-dum-dum-dum, *my husband* wrote 'Ol' Man River'" -- an important distinction we need to bear in mind when talking about songwriters who write music but not lyrics). The second is that when he was five years old that music-loving father drowned -- and Garcia would always say he had seen his father dying, though some sources claim this was a false memory. So it goes. And the third fact, which for some reason is always told after the second even though it comes before it chronologically, is that when he was four he lost two joints from his right middle finger. Garcia grew up a troubled teen, and in turn caused trouble for other people, but he also developed a few interests that would follow him through his life. He loved the fantastical, especially the fantastical macabre, and became an avid fan of horror and science fiction -- and through his love of old monster films he became enamoured with cinema more generally. Indeed, in 1983 he bought the film rights to Kurt Vonnegut's science fiction novel The Sirens of Titan, the first story in which the Tralfamadorians appear, and wrote a script based on it. He wanted to produce the film himself, with Francis Ford Coppola directing and Bill Murray starring, but most importantly for him he wanted to prevent anyone who didn't care about it from doing it badly. And in that he succeeded. As of 2023 there is no film of The Sirens of Titan. He loved to paint, and would continue that for the rest of his life, with one of his favourite subjects being Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein monster. And when he was eleven or twelve, he heard for the first time a record that was hugely influential to a whole generation of Californian musicians, even though it was a New York record -- "Gee" by the Crows: [Excerpt: The Crows, "Gee"] Garcia would say later "That was an important song. That was the first kind of, like where the voices had that kind of not-trained-singer voices, but tough-guy-on-the-street voice." That record introduced him to R&B, and soon he was listening to Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, to Ray Charles, and to a record we've not talked about in the podcast but which was one of the great early doo-wop records, "WPLJ" by the Four Deuces: [Excerpt: The Four Deuces, "WPLJ"] Garcia said of that record "That was one of my anthem songs when I was in junior high school and high school and around there. That was one of those songs everybody knew. And that everybody sang. Everybody sang that street-corner favorite." Garcia moved around a lot as a child, and didn't have much time for school by his own account, but one of the few teachers he did respect was an art teacher when he was in North Beach, Walter Hedrick. Hedrick was also one of the earliest of the conceptual artists, and one of the most important figures in the San Francisco arts scene that would become known as the Beat Generation (or the Beatniks, which was originally a disparaging term). Hedrick was a painter and sculptor, but also organised happenings, and he had also been one of the prime movers in starting a series of poetry readings in San Francisco, the first one of which had involved Allen Ginsberg giving the first ever reading of "Howl" -- one of a small number of poems, along with Eliot's "Prufrock" and "The Waste Land" and possibly Pound's Cantos, which can be said to have changed twentieth-century literature. Garcia was fifteen when he got to know Hedrick, in 1957, and by then the Beat scene had already become almost a parody of itself, having become known to the public because of the publication of works like On the Road, and the major artists in the scene were already rejecting the label. By this point tourists were flocking to North Beach to see these beatniks they'd heard about on TV, and Hedrick was actually employed by one cafe to sit in the window wearing a beret, turtleneck, sandals, and beard, and draw and paint, to attract the tourists who flocked by the busload because they could see that there was a "genuine beatnik" in the cafe. Hedrick was, as well as a visual artist, a guitarist and banjo player who played in traditional jazz bands, and he would bring records in to class for his students to listen to, and Garcia particularly remembered him bringing in records by Big Bill Broonzy: [Excerpt: Big Bill Broonzy, "When Things Go Wrong (It Hurts Me Too)"] Garcia was already an avid fan of rock and roll music, but it was being inspired by Hedrick that led him to get his first guitar. Like his contemporary Paul McCartney around the same time, he was initially given the wrong instrument as a birthday present -- in Garcia's case his mother gave him an accordion -- but he soon persuaded her to swap it for an electric guitar he saw in a pawn shop. And like his other contemporary, John Lennon, Garcia initially tuned his instrument incorrectly. He said later "When I started playing the guitar, believe me, I didn't know anybody that played. I mean, I didn't know anybody that played the guitar. Nobody. They weren't around. There were no guitar teachers. You couldn't take lessons. There was nothing like that, you know? When I was a kid and I had my first electric guitar, I had it tuned wrong and learned how to play on it with it tuned wrong for about a year. And I was getting somewhere on it, you know… Finally, I met a guy that knew how to tune it right and showed me three chords, and it was like a revelation. You know what I mean? It was like somebody gave me the key to heaven." He joined a band, the Chords, which mostly played big band music, and his friend Gary Foster taught him some of the rudiments of playing the guitar -- things like how to use a capo to change keys. But he was always a rebellious kid, and soon found himself faced with a choice between joining the military or going to prison. He chose the former, and it was during his time in the Army that a friend, Ron Stevenson, introduced him to the music of Merle Travis, and to Travis-style guitar picking: [Excerpt: Merle Travis, "Nine-Pound Hammer"] Garcia had never encountered playing like that before, but he instantly recognised that Travis, and Chet Atkins who Stevenson also played for him, had been an influence on Scotty Moore. He started to realise that the music he'd listened to as a teenager was influenced by music that went further back. But Stevenson, as well as teaching Garcia some of the rudiments of Travis-picking, also indirectly led to Garcia getting discharged from the Army. Stevenson was not a well man, and became suicidal. Garcia decided it was more important to keep his friend company and make sure he didn't kill himself than it was to turn up for roll call, and as a result he got discharged himself on psychiatric grounds -- according to Garcia he told the Army psychiatrist "I was involved in stuff that was more important to me in the moment than the army was and that was the reason I was late" and the psychiatrist thought it was neurotic of Garcia to have his own set of values separate from that of the Army. After discharge, Garcia did various jobs, including working as a transcriptionist for Lenny Bruce, the comedian who was a huge influence on the counterculture. In one of the various attacks over the years by authoritarians on language, Bruce was repeatedly arrested for obscenity, and in 1961 he was arrested at a jazz club in North Beach. Sixty years ago, the parts of speech that were being criminalised weren't pronouns, but prepositions and verbs: [Excerpt: Lenny Bruce, "To is a Preposition, Come is a Verb"] That piece, indeed, was so controversial that when Frank Zappa quoted part of it in a song in 1968, the record label insisted on the relevant passage being played backwards so people couldn't hear such disgusting filth: [Excerpt: The Mothers of Invention, "Harry You're a Beast"] (Anyone familiar with that song will understand that the censored portion is possibly the least offensive part of the whole thing). Bruce was facing trial, and he needed transcripts of what he had said in his recordings to present in court. Incidentally, there seems to be some confusion over exactly which of Bruce's many obscenity trials Garcia became a transcriptionist for. Dennis McNally says in his biography of the band, published in 2002, that it was the most famous of them, in autumn 1964, but in a later book, Jerry on Jerry, a book of interviews of Garcia edited by McNally, McNally talks about it being when Garcia was nineteen, which would mean it was Bruce's first trial, in 1961. We can put this down to the fact that many of the people involved, not least Garcia, lived in Tralfamadorian time, and were rather hazy on dates, but I'm placing the story here rather than in 1964 because it seems to make more sense that Garcia would be involved in a trial based on an incident in San Francisco than one in New York. Garcia got the job, even though he couldn't type, because by this point he'd spent so long listening to recordings of old folk and country music that he was used to transcribing indecipherable accents, and often, as Garcia would tell it, Bruce would mumble very fast and condense multiple syllables into one. Garcia was particularly impressed by Bruce's ability to improvise but talk in entire paragraphs, and he compared his use of language to bebop. Another thing that was starting to impress Garcia, and which he also compared to bebop, was bluegrass: [Excerpt: Bill Monroe, "Fire on the Mountain"] Bluegrass is a music that is often considered very traditional, because it's based on traditional songs and uses acoustic instruments, but in fact it was a terribly *modern* music, and largely a postwar creation of a single band -- Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys. And Garcia was right when he said it was "white bebop" -- though he did say "The only thing it doesn't have is the harmonic richness of bebop. You know what I mean? That's what it's missing, but it has everything else." Both bebop and bluegrass evolved after the second world war, though they were informed by music from before it, and both prized the ability to improvise, and technical excellence. Both are musics that involved playing *fast*, in an ensemble, and being able to respond quickly to the other musicians. Both musics were also intensely rhythmic, a response to a faster paced, more stressful world. They were both part of the general change in the arts towards immediacy that we looked at in the last episode with the creation first of expressionism and then of pop art. Bluegrass didn't go into the harmonic explorations that modern jazz did, but it was absolutely as modern as anything Charlie Parker was doing, and came from the same impulses. It was tradition and innovation, the past and the future simultaneously. Bill Monroe, Jackson Pollock, Charlie Parker, Jack Kerouac, and Lenny Bruce were all in their own ways responding to the same cultural moment, and it was that which Garcia was responding to. But he didn't become able to play bluegrass until after a tragedy which shaped his life even more than his father's death had. Garcia had been to a party and was in a car with his friends Lee Adams, Paul Speegle, and Alan Trist. Adams was driving at ninety miles an hour when they hit a tight curve and crashed. Garcia, Adams, and Trist were all severely injured but survived. Speegle died. So it goes. This tragedy changed Garcia's attitudes totally. Of all his friends, Speegle was the one who was most serious about his art, and who treated it as something to work on. Garcia had always been someone who fundamentally didn't want to work or take any responsibility for anything. And he remained that way -- except for his music. Speegle's death changed Garcia's attitude to that, totally. If his friend wasn't going to be able to practice his own art any more, Garcia would practice his, in tribute to him. He resolved to become a virtuoso on guitar and banjo. His girlfriend of the time later said “I don't know if you've spent time with someone rehearsing ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown' on a banjo for eight hours, but Jerry practiced endlessly. He really wanted to excel and be the best. He had tremendous personal ambition in the musical arena, and he wanted to master whatever he set out to explore. Then he would set another sight for himself. And practice another eight hours a day of new licks.” But of course, you can't make ensemble music on your own: [Excerpt: Jerry Garcia and Bob Hunter, "Oh Mary Don't You Weep" (including end)] "Evelyn said, “What is it called when a person needs a … person … when you want to be touched and the … two are like one thing and there isn't anything else at all anywhere?” Alicia, who had read books, thought about it. “Love,” she said at length." That's from More Than Human, by Theodore Sturgeon, a book I'll be quoting a few more times as the story goes on. Robert Hunter, like Garcia, was just out of the military -- in his case, the National Guard -- and he came into Garcia's life just after Paul Speegle had left it. Garcia and Alan Trist met Hunter ten days after the accident, and the three men started hanging out together, Trist and Hunter writing while Garcia played music. Garcia and Hunter both bonded over their shared love for the beats, and for traditional music, and the two formed a duo, Bob and Jerry, which performed together a handful of times. They started playing together, in fact, after Hunter picked up a guitar and started playing a song and halfway through Garcia took it off him and finished the song himself. The two of them learned songs from the Harry Smith Anthology -- Garcia was completely apolitical, and only once voted in his life, for Lyndon Johnson in 1964 to keep Goldwater out, and regretted even doing that, and so he didn't learn any of the more political material people like Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, and Bob Dylan were doing at the time -- but their duo only lasted a short time because Hunter wasn't an especially good guitarist. Hunter would, though, continue to jam with Garcia and other friends, sometimes playing mandolin, while Garcia played solo gigs and with other musicians as well, playing and moving round the Bay Area and performing with whoever he could: [Excerpt: Jerry Garcia, "Railroad Bill"] "Bleshing, that was Janie's word. She said Baby told it to her. She said it meant everyone all together being something, even if they all did different things. Two arms, two legs, one body, one head, all working together, although a head can't walk and arms can't think. Lone said maybe it was a mixture of “blending” and “meshing,” but I don't think he believed that himself. It was a lot more than that." That's from More Than Human In 1961, Garcia and Hunter met another young musician, but one who was interested in a very different type of music. Phil Lesh was a serious student of modern classical music, a classically-trained violinist and trumpeter whose interest was solidly in the experimental and whose attitude can be summed up by a story that's always told about him meeting his close friend Tom Constanten for the first time. Lesh had been talking with someone about serialism, and Constanten had interrupted, saying "Music stopped being created in 1750 but it started again in 1950". Lesh just stuck out his hand, recognising a kindred spirit. Lesh and Constanten were both students of Luciano Berio, the experimental composer who created compositions for magnetic tape: [Excerpt: Luciano Berio, "Momenti"] Berio had been one of the founders of the Studio di fonologia musicale di Radio Milano, a studio for producing contemporary electronic music where John Cage had worked for a time, and he had also worked with the electronic music pioneer Karlheinz Stockhausen. Lesh would later remember being very impressed when Berio brought a tape into the classroom -- the actual multitrack tape for Stockhausen's revolutionary piece Gesang Der Juenglinge: [Excerpt: Karlheinz Stockhausen, "Gesang Der Juenglinge"] Lesh at first had been distrustful of Garcia -- Garcia was charismatic and had followers, and Lesh never liked people like that. But he was impressed by Garcia's playing, and soon realised that the two men, despite their very different musical interests, had a lot in common. Lesh was interested in the technology of music as well as in performing and composing it, and so when he wasn't studying he helped out by engineering at the university's radio station. Lesh was impressed by Garcia's playing, and suggested to the presenter of the station's folk show, the Midnight Special, that Garcia be a guest. Garcia was so good that he ended up getting an entire solo show to himself, where normally the show would feature multiple acts. Lesh and Constanten soon moved away from the Bay Area to Las Vegas, but both would be back -- in Constanten's case he would form an experimental group in San Francisco with their fellow student Steve Reich, and that group (though not with Constanten performing) would later premiere Terry Riley's In C, a piece influenced by La Monte Young and often considered one of the great masterpieces of minimalist music. By early 1962 Garcia and Hunter had formed a bluegrass band, with Garcia on guitar and banjo and Hunter on mandolin, and a rotating cast of other musicians including Ken Frankel, who played banjo and fiddle. They performed under different names, including the Tub Thumpers, the Hart Valley Drifters, and the Sleepy Valley Hog Stompers, and played a mixture of bluegrass and old-time music -- and were very careful about the distinction: [Excerpt: The Hart Valley Drifters, "Cripple Creek"] In 1993, the Republican political activist John Perry Barlow was invited to talk to the CIA about the possibilities open to them with what was then called the Information Superhighway. He later wrote, in part "They told me they'd brought Steve Jobs in a few weeks before to indoctrinate them in modern information management. And they were delighted when I returned later, bringing with me a platoon of Internet gurus, including Esther Dyson, Mitch Kapor, Tony Rutkowski, and Vint Cerf. They sealed us into an electronically impenetrable room to discuss the radical possibility that a good first step in lifting their blackout would be for the CIA to put up a Web site... We told them that information exchange was a barter system, and that to receive, one must also be willing to share. This was an alien notion to them. They weren't even willing to share information among themselves, much less the world." 1962 brought a new experience for Robert Hunter. Hunter had been recruited into taking part in psychological tests at Stanford University, which in the sixties and seventies was one of the preeminent universities for psychological experiments. As part of this, Hunter was given $140 to attend the VA hospital (where a janitor named Ken Kesey, who had himself taken part in a similar set of experiments a couple of years earlier, worked a day job while he was working on his first novel) for four weeks on the run, and take different psychedelic drugs each time, starting with LSD, so his reactions could be observed. (It was later revealed that these experiments were part of a CIA project called MKUltra, designed to investigate the possibility of using psychedelic drugs for mind control, blackmail, and torture. Hunter was quite lucky in that he was told what was going to happen to him and paid for his time. Other subjects included the unlucky customers of brothels the CIA set up as fronts -- they dosed the customers' drinks and observed them through two-way mirrors. Some of their experimental subjects died by suicide as a result of their experiences. So it goes. ) Hunter was interested in taking LSD after reading Aldous Huxley's writings about psychedelic substances, and he brought his typewriter along to the experiment. During the first test, he wrote a six-page text, a short excerpt from which is now widely quoted, reading in part "Sit back picture yourself swooping up a shell of purple with foam crests of crystal drops soft nigh they fall unto the sea of morning creep-very-softly mist ... and then sort of cascade tinkley-bell-like (must I take you by the hand, ever so slowly type) and then conglomerate suddenly into a peal of silver vibrant uncomprehendingly, blood singingly, joyously resounding bells" Hunter's experience led to everyone in their social circle wanting to try LSD, and soon they'd all come to the same conclusion -- this was something special. But Garcia needed money -- he'd got his girlfriend pregnant, and they'd married (this would be the first of several marriages in Garcia's life, and I won't be covering them all -- at Garcia's funeral, his second wife, Carolyn, said Garcia always called her the love of his life, and his first wife and his early-sixties girlfriend who he proposed to again in the nineties both simultaneously said "He said that to me!"). So he started teaching guitar at a music shop in Palo Alto. Hunter had no time for Garcia's incipient domesticity and thought that his wife was trying to make him live a conventional life, and the two drifted apart somewhat, though they'd still play together occasionally. Through working at the music store, Garcia got to know the manager, Troy Weidenheimer, who had a rock and roll band called the Zodiacs. Garcia joined the band on bass, despite that not being his instrument. He later said "Troy was a lot of fun, but I wasn't good enough a musician then to have been able to deal with it. I was out of my idiom, really, 'cause when I played with Troy I was playing electric bass, you know. I never was a good bass player. Sometimes I was playing in the wrong key and didn't even [fuckin'] know it. I couldn't hear that low, after playing banjo, you know, and going to electric...But Troy taught me the principle of, hey, you know, just stomp your foot and get on it. He was great. A great one for the instant arrangement, you know. And he was also fearless for that thing of get your friends to do it." Garcia's tenure in the Zodiacs didn't last long, nor did this experiment with rock and roll, but two other members of the Zodiacs will be notable later in the story -- the harmonica player, an old friend of Garcia's named Ron McKernan, who would soon gain the nickname Pig Pen after the Peanuts character, and the drummer, Bill Kreutzmann: [Excerpt: The Grateful Dead, "Drums/Space (Skull & Bones version)"] Kreutzmann said of the Zodiacs "Jerry was the hired bass player and I was the hired drummer. I only remember playing that one gig with them, but I was in way over my head. I always did that. I always played things that were really hard and it didn't matter. I just went for it." Garcia and Kreutzmann didn't really get to know each other then, but Garcia did get to know someone else who would soon be very important in his life. Bob Weir was from a very different background than Garcia, though both had the shared experience of long bouts of chronic illness as children. He had grown up in a very wealthy family, and had always been well-liked, but he was what we would now call neurodivergent -- reading books about the band he talks about being dyslexic but clearly has other undiagnosed neurodivergences, which often go along with dyslexia -- and as a result he was deemed to have behavioural problems which led to him getting expelled from pre-school and kicked out of the cub scouts. He was never academically gifted, thanks to his dyslexia, but he was always enthusiastic about music -- to a fault. He learned to play boogie piano but played so loudly and so often his parents sold the piano. He had a trumpet, but the neighbours complained about him playing it outside. Finally he switched to the guitar, an instrument with which it is of course impossible to make too loud a noise. The first song he learned was the Kingston Trio's version of an old sea shanty, "The Wreck of the John B": [Excerpt: The Kingston Trio, "The Wreck of the John B"] He was sent off to a private school in Colorado for teenagers with behavioural issues, and there he met the boy who would become his lifelong friend, John Perry Barlow. Unfortunately the two troublemakers got on with each other *so* well that after their first year they were told that it was too disruptive having both of them at the school, and only one could stay there the next year. Barlow stayed and Weir moved back to the Bay Area. By this point, Weir was getting more interested in folk music that went beyond the commercial folk of the Kingston Trio. As he said later "There was something in there that was ringing my bells. What I had grown up thinking of as hillbilly music, it started to have some depth for me, and I could start to hear the music in it. Suddenly, it wasn't just a bunch of ignorant hillbillies playing what they could. There was some depth and expertise and stuff like that to aspire to.” He moved from school to school but one thing that stayed with him was his love of playing guitar, and he started taking lessons from Troy Weidenheimer, but he got most of his education going to folk clubs and hootenannies. He regularly went to the Tangent, a club where Garcia played, but Garcia's bluegrass banjo playing was far too rigorous for a free spirit like Weir to emulate, and instead he started trying to copy one of the guitarists who was a regular there, Jorma Kaukonnen. On New Year's Eve 1963 Weir was out walking with his friends Bob Matthews and Rich Macauley, and they passed the music shop where Garcia was a teacher, and heard him playing his banjo. They knocked and asked if they could come in -- they all knew Garcia a little, and Bob Matthews was one of his students, having become interested in playing banjo after hearing the theme tune to the Beverly Hillbillies, played by the bluegrass greats Flatt and Scruggs: [Excerpt: Flatt and Scruggs, "The Beverly Hillbillies"] Garcia at first told these kids, several years younger than him, that they couldn't come in -- he was waiting for his students to show up. But Weir said “Jerry, listen, it's seven-thirty on New Year's Eve, and I don't think you're going to be seeing your students tonight.” Garcia realised the wisdom of this, and invited the teenagers in to jam with him. At the time, there was a bit of a renaissance in jug bands, as we talked about back in the episode on the Lovin' Spoonful. This was a form of music that had grown up in the 1920s, and was similar and related to skiffle and coffee-pot bands -- jug bands would tend to have a mixture of portable string instruments like guitars and banjos, harmonicas, and people using improvised instruments, particularly blowing into a jug. The most popular of these bands had been Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers, led by banjo player Gus Cannon and with harmonica player Noah Lewis: [Excerpt: Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers, "Viola Lee Blues"] With the folk revival, Cannon's work had become well-known again. The Rooftop Singers, a Kingston Trio style folk group, had had a hit with his song "Walk Right In" in 1963, and as a result of that success Cannon had even signed a record contract with Stax -- Stax's first album ever, a month before Booker T and the MGs' first album, was in fact the eighty-year-old Cannon playing his banjo and singing his old songs. The rediscovery of Cannon had started a craze for jug bands, and the most popular of the new jug bands was Jim Kweskin's Jug Band, which did a mixture of old songs like "You're a Viper" and more recent material redone in the old style. Weir, Matthews, and Macauley had been to see the Kweskin band the night before, and had been very impressed, especially by their singer Maria D'Amato -- who would later marry her bandmate Geoff Muldaur and take his name -- and her performance of Leiber and Stoller's "I'm a Woman": [Excerpt: Jim Kweskin's Jug Band, "I'm a Woman"] Matthews suggested that they form their own jug band, and Garcia eagerly agreed -- though Matthews found himself rapidly moving from banjo to washboard to kazoo to second kazoo before realising he was surplus to requirements. Robert Hunter was similarly an early member but claimed he "didn't have the embouchure" to play the jug, and was soon also out. He moved to LA and started studying Scientology -- later claiming that he wanted science-fictional magic powers, which L. Ron Hubbard's new religion certainly offered. The group took the name Mother McRee's Uptown Jug Champions -- apparently they varied the spelling every time they played -- and had a rotating membership that at one time or another included about twenty different people, but tended always to have Garcia on banjo, Weir on jug and later guitar, and Garcia's friend Pig Pen on harmonica: [Excerpt: Mother McRee's Uptown Jug Champions, "On the Road Again"] The group played quite regularly in early 1964, but Garcia's first love was still bluegrass, and he was trying to build an audience with his bluegrass band, The Black Mountain Boys. But bluegrass was very unpopular in the Bay Area, where it was simultaneously thought of as unsophisticated -- as "hillbilly music" -- and as elitist, because it required actual instrumental ability, which wasn't in any great supply in the amateur folk scene. But instrumental ability was something Garcia definitely had, as at this point he was still practising eight hours a day, every day, and it shows on the recordings of the Black Mountain Boys: [Excerpt: The Black Mountain Boys, "Rosa Lee McFall"] By the summer, Bob Weir was also working at the music shop, and so Garcia let Weir take over his students while he and the Black Mountain Boys' guitarist Sandy Rothman went on a road trip to see as many bluegrass musicians as they could and to audition for Bill Monroe himself. As it happened, Garcia found himself too shy to audition for Monroe, but Rothman later ended up playing with Monroe's Blue Grass Boys. On his return to the Bay Area, Garcia resumed playing with the Uptown Jug Champions, but Pig Pen started pestering him to do something different. While both men had overlapping tastes in music and a love for the blues, Garcia's tastes had always been towards the country end of the spectrum while Pig Pen's were towards R&B. And while the Uptown Jug Champions were all a bit disdainful of the Beatles at first -- apart from Bob Weir, the youngest of the group, who thought they were interesting -- Pig Pen had become enamoured of another British band who were just starting to make it big: [Excerpt: The Rolling Stones, "Not Fade Away"] 29) Garcia liked the first Rolling Stones album too, and he eventually took Pig Pen's point -- the stuff that the Rolling Stones were doing, covers of Slim Harpo and Buddy Holly, was not a million miles away from the material they were doing as Mother McRee's Uptown Jug Champions. Pig Pen could play a little electric organ, Bob had been fooling around with the electric guitars in the music shop. Why not give it a go? The stuff bands like the Rolling Stones were doing wasn't that different from the electric blues that Pig Pen liked, and they'd all seen A Hard Day's Night -- they could carry on playing with banjos, jugs, and kazoos and have the respect of a handful of folkies, or they could get electric instruments and potentially have screaming girls and millions of dollars, while playing the same songs. This was a convincing argument, especially when Dana Morgan Jr, the son of the owner of the music shop, told them they could have free electric instruments if they let him join on bass. Morgan wasn't that great on bass, but what the hell, free instruments. Pig Pen had the best voice and stage presence, so he became the frontman of the new group, singing most of the leads, though Jerry and Bob would both sing a few songs, and playing harmonica and organ. Weir was on rhythm guitar, and Garcia was the lead guitarist and obvious leader of the group. They just needed a drummer, and handily Bill Kreutzmann, who had played with Garcia and Pig Pen in the Zodiacs, was also now teaching music at the music shop. Not only that, but about three weeks before they decided to go electric, Kreutzmann had seen the Uptown Jug Champions performing and been astonished by Garcia's musicianship and charisma, and said to himself "Man, I'm gonna follow that guy forever!" The new group named themselves the Warlocks, and started rehearsing in earnest. Around this time, Garcia also finally managed to get some of the LSD that his friend Robert Hunter had been so enthusiastic about three years earlier, and it was a life-changing experience for him. In particular, he credited LSD with making him comfortable being a less disciplined player -- as a bluegrass player he'd had to be frighteningly precise, but now he was playing rock and needed to loosen up. A few days after taking LSD for the first time, Garcia also heard some of Bob Dylan's new material, and realised that the folk singer he'd had little time for with his preachy politics was now making electric music that owed a lot more to the Beat culture Garcia considered himself part of: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Subterranean Homesick Blues"] Another person who was hugely affected by hearing that was Phil Lesh, who later said "I couldn't believe that was Bob Dylan on AM radio, with an electric band. It changed my whole consciousness: if something like that could happen, the sky was the limit." Up to that point, Lesh had been focused entirely on his avant-garde music, working with friends like Steve Reich to push music forward, inspired by people like John Cage and La Monte Young, but now he realised there was music of value in the rock world. He'd quickly started going to rock gigs, seeing the Rolling Stones and the Byrds, and then he took acid and went to see his friend Garcia's new electric band play their third ever gig. He was blown away, and very quickly it was decided that Lesh would be the group's new bass player -- though everyone involved tells a different story as to who made the decision and how it came about, and accounts also vary as to whether Dana Morgan took his sacking gracefully and let his erstwhile bandmates keep their instruments, or whether they had to scrounge up some new ones. Lesh had never played bass before, but he was a talented multi-instrumentalist with a deep understanding of music and an ability to compose and improvise, and the repertoire the Warlocks were playing in the early days was mostly three-chord material that doesn't take much rehearsal -- though it was apparently beyond the abilities of poor Dana Morgan, who apparently had to be told note-by-note what to play by Garcia, and learn it by rote. Garcia told Lesh what notes the strings of a bass were tuned to, told him to borrow a guitar and practice, and within two weeks he was on stage with the Warlocks: [Excerpt: The Grateful Dead, “Grayfolded"] In September 1995, just weeks after Jerry Garcia's death, an article was published in Mute magazine identifying a cultural trend that had shaped the nineties, and would as it turned out shape at least the next thirty years. It's titled "The Californian Ideology", though it may be better titled "The Bay Area Ideology", and it identifies a worldview that had grown up in Silicon Valley, based around the ideas of the hippie movement, of right-wing libertarianism, of science fiction authors, and of Marshall McLuhan. It starts "There is an emerging global orthodoxy concerning the relation between society, technology and politics. We have called this orthodoxy `the Californian Ideology' in honour of the state where it originated. By naturalising and giving a technological proof to a libertarian political philosophy, and therefore foreclosing on alternative futures, the Californian Ideologues are able to assert that social and political debates about the future have now become meaningless. The California Ideology is a mix of cybernetics, free market economics, and counter-culture libertarianism and is promulgated by magazines such as WIRED and MONDO 2000 and preached in the books of Stewart Brand, Kevin Kelly and others. The new faith has been embraced by computer nerds, slacker students, 30-something capitalists, hip academics, futurist bureaucrats and even the President of the USA himself. As usual, Europeans have not been slow to copy the latest fashion from America. While a recent EU report recommended adopting the Californian free enterprise model to build the 'infobahn', cutting-edge artists and academics have been championing the 'post-human' philosophy developed by the West Coast's Extropian cult. With no obvious opponents, the global dominance of the Californian ideology appears to be complete." [Excerpt: Grayfolded] The Warlocks' first gig with Phil Lesh on bass was on June the 18th 1965, at a club called Frenchy's with a teenage clientele. Lesh thought his playing had been wooden and it wasn't a good gig, and apparently the management of Frenchy's agreed -- they were meant to play a second night there, but turned up to be told they'd been replaced by a band with an accordion and clarinet. But by September the group had managed to get themselves a residency at a small bar named the In Room, and playing there every night made them cohere. They were at this point playing the kind of sets that bar bands everywhere play to this day, though at the time the songs they were playing, like "Gloria" by Them and "In the Midnight Hour", were the most contemporary of hits. Another song that they introduced into their repertoire was "Do You Believe in Magic" by the Lovin' Spoonful, another band which had grown up out of former jug band musicians. As well as playing their own sets, they were also the house band at The In Room and as such had to back various touring artists who were the headline acts. The first act they had to back up was Cornell Gunter's version of the Coasters. Gunter had brought his own guitarist along as musical director, and for the first show Weir sat in the audience watching the show and learning the parts, staring intently at this musical director's playing. After seeing that, Weir's playing was changed, because he also picked up how the guitarist was guiding the band while playing, the small cues that a musical director will use to steer the musicians in the right direction. Weir started doing these things himself when he was singing lead -- Pig Pen was the frontman but everyone except Bill sang sometimes -- and the group soon found that rather than Garcia being the sole leader, now whoever was the lead singer for the song was the de facto conductor as well. By this point, the Bay Area was getting almost overrun with people forming electric guitar bands, as every major urban area in America was. Some of the bands were even having hits already -- We Five had had a number three hit with "You Were On My Mind", a song which had originally been performed by the folk duo Ian and Sylvia: [Excerpt: We Five, "You Were On My Mind"] Although the band that was most highly regarded on the scene, the Charlatans, was having problems with the various record companies they tried to get signed to, and didn't end up making a record until 1969. If tracks like "Number One" had been released in 1965 when they were recorded, the history of the San Francisco music scene may have taken a very different turn: [Excerpt: The Charlatans, "Number One"] Bands like Jefferson Airplane, the Great Society, and Big Brother and the Holding Company were also forming, and Autumn Records was having a run of success with records by the Beau Brummels, whose records were produced by Autumn's in-house A&R man, Sly Stone: [Excerpt: The Beau Brummels, "Laugh Laugh"] The Warlocks were somewhat cut off from this, playing in a dive bar whose clientele was mostly depressed alcoholics. But the fact that they were playing every night for an audience that didn't care much gave them freedom, and they used that freedom to improvise. Both Lesh and Garcia were big fans of John Coltrane, and they started to take lessons from his style of playing. When the group played "Gloria" or "Midnight Hour" or whatever, they started to extend the songs and give themselves long instrumental passages for soloing. Garcia's playing wasn't influenced *harmonically* by Coltrane -- in fact Garcia was always a rather harmonically simple player. He'd tend to play lead lines either in Mixolydian mode, which is one of the most standard modes in rock, pop, blues, and jazz, or he'd play the notes of the chord that was being played, so if the band were playing a G chord his lead would emphasise the notes G, B, and D. But what he was influenced by was Coltrane's tendency to improvise in long, complex, phrases that made up a single thought -- Coltrane was thinking musically in paragraphs, rather than sentences, and Garcia started to try the same kind of th
Relix Magazine Publisher and New York music promotor Peter Shapiro shares a special voicemail from the late great David Crosby of CSNY and discusses touring with the Grateful Dead, what's it like voting in The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and more over bourbon. Peter Shapiro Bio Peter Shapiro is a veteran concert promoter whose signature achievements over the past two decades have included Wetlands Preserve, Brooklyn Bowl, the Capitol Theatre, the Lockn' festival, U2 3D, the Jammy Awards, and Fare Thee Well, the 2015 concert event in which he reunited the "core four" members of the Grateful Dead alongside Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio for a record-breaking run of stadium shows. More recently, Shapiro founded Lockn', a music and camping festival that draws 30,000 music fans to Arrington, VA, as well as Jazz & Colors, an experiential event that he has produced in Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Chicago's Field Museum. Shapiro also created the Green Apple Festival (which took place simultaneously across eight cities) along with the Jammy Awards. He served as a producer on the We Are One inaugural concert and later returned to the National Mall to oversee Earth Day 40th anniversary celebration, the Women's March and the March for Science.