Do people actually have parties on Memorial Day? 4th of July, sure. What about Memorial Day? Is it really a day to have a fun picnic, barbeque, pool party, etc? Do people do that?
I had to work on yesterday's Memorial Day holiday anyway. Holidays always get special treatment at work because it's understood that's when people like to leave town for a few days. Who can work? Who can't? A schedule is amicably made and if need be, sometimes someone's ordered to work or else. Me, I just volunteer -- Memorial Day, New Year's Eve, Easter, Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Christmas and my birthday, too. Don't really bother me none.
So many in the world have no reason to celebrate anything on holidays... or on any day. Many have their human rights stripped from them so there's no way for them to attain a better life that's full of reason to be happy. Many governments don't do a damn thing for their people... or next to nothing. And in my eyes, most Americans (as well as citizens in many other nations) wish to ignore these things and go with their lives like suffering doesn't exist. That saddens the hell out of me. Having fun and celebrating on a holiday, that just doesn't seem right.
Memorial Day isn't even a day to do that, is it? Seems like a day when people should be volunteering to shine the boots of soldiers and buy them a meal or something... not have coolers full of beer and music playing with hamburgers and hot dogs for all (which I'm still not even sure people do on Memorial Day like on the 4th of July.) Instead of enjoying oneself, a person, perhaps, should spend the day being thankful for those who've honorably served in the military in order to help give others a better life free from tyranny and abuse.
This is, without a doubt, a subject that is nothing but depressing to me. Suffering in the world should not be tolerated... and it should not be ignored... by anyone.
But even for those of us who do give a damn, every now and then we need some sweet relief... and I know that, in the words of our friend Bobby on that horrible day in August 1995, "good music can make sad times better."
And there's a lot of that to get to so on Dasher, on Prancer, on Pigpen, on Phil. On Cupid, on Blitzen, on Mickey, on Bobby... and our most faaaa-vorite one of all... [dah dump, dum dum] ... Jerry the Viola Lee Blues bandleader, had a wicked smokin' guitar....
okay, enough of that moronicness.... it's time for:
Mostly Chronological (but not exactly entirely)
Adventures in Sound Related to the History of
Some Band Called the Grateful Dead?
Yep, it's been a week and a half, almost two weeks since Volume 4. Yes, it's going slowly. But it's going right? Better to go slowly than not go at all? I'd say so. If you're complaining, write your Congressman! Or woman. Or whatever you people in Germany have.
Not that I owe it to anyone to go faster but to make up for lack of speedily posted 1960's Dead, I'm gonna try for Volume 6 in a week or 8 days, tops. Plus I'll try, kinda soon, to put up something from '69, as well.
Anyway, Volume 5 -- Going exactly chronological didn't work out. That's easy for shows in like 1986... or if it was the Reverse Chronological History, but not easy for stuff from 1966. I'd done a pretty good job up to now and if I was just including shows, then it would go very smoothly... but there's other stuff.
"This would be a fuckin good group if
our drummer wasn't always jumpin off chairs and killin himself."
-Bob Weir, February 1966
Viola Lee Blues Rehearsal
· Date: unknown
· Location: unknown
The "setlist" looks like this:
01 - talk & tunings - "It's just Weir and his ass-holed guitar"
02 - Viola Lee Blues #1 verse 1 - aborted
03 - Viola Lee Blues #2 verses 1 & 2 - aborted - "watch it pig! b, man, b"
04 - talk & tunings
05 - Viola Lee Blues #3 with harmonica - aborted
06 - discussions
07 - Viola Lee Blues #4 with organ verse 1 & harmonica - aborted
08 - tape playback? more talk
09 - Viola Lee Blues #5 verse 1 - "same verse again" - verse 1 - aborted
10 - Phil comments
11 - Viola Lee Blues #6 verses 1 & 2 - aborted
12 - more discussions
13 - Viola Lee Blues #7 verses 1 & 2 & 3 - then stopped
14 - talk & tunings - "that's tasty" - "let's just play"
15 - Viola Lee Blues #8 verse 1 - aborted
16 - talk & wild comments & confusion
17 - Viola Lee Blues #9 verses 2 & 3 - aborted
18 - more talk - "I think you're against us" - "Pigpen's a conspiracy"
19 - "You may know by ..." passage repeated
20 - Viola Lee Blues #10 verses 1 & 2 & 3 ; jam ; tape cuts
47 minutes of the band working out one song, that's all this is, just one song. I'd estimate it's about 2/3 music and a third banter, maybe closer 50/50. No mic for Billy, mostly it's Jerry teaching, plus Bobby being Bobby and lots of great Phil... plus Pigpen.
At one point we hear a mention of when this is [most likely] taking place. Phil says:
"As long as we get to L.A. in time to set and do the thing,"
"Saturday night," Jerry quickly says.
"Saturday night," Phil confirms/finishes his thought.
The "thing" is guessed to be the Watts Acid Test, Saturday, February 12, at the Youth Opportunities Center in Compton, California (essentially Los Angeles.) That would be right as the Dead began a stint in Southern California that lasted about two months. Since Phil makes it sound like "Saturday night" is so close, possibly the very next Saturday night on the calendar, this rehearsal could very well be from early February, say, Feb 6, 7, 8, 9, in there.
Sadly, there's an element of... well, sadness to this bit of... stuff. Near the end, the band gets fairly ticked off, to say it nicely, at Pigpen. Some jokes are made and Jerry tries to explain, Hey, man, we're in this together, we're tryin' to learn this song here. But Pig's too plastered by now to be a productive part of the rest of the rehearsal. Phil's frustration is most apparent; he was none too happy with Pig's drinking.
(To really hear it all up close and more personal, try listening with a pair of headphones while you're not doing anything else.)
Aside from those few ugly minutes, and even including that, this is priceless. The last track (at 15+ minutes and a whole third of this recording) is all music and is maybe some of the best Dead played in the entire first half of 1966 (that we have to listen to all these years later.)
Something Jerry had said earlier about the direction of Viola Lee is so telling of the band these guys were deep down, the band they turned into, and the reason why so many people dug their music, he said:
we'll just let it do what it wants to do."
Here they are in 1966, early 1966, and Jerry summed up their entire history, well, a lot of it. Some songs, they're started, they're played, they're finished, just like that. But with the Dead on a gazillion occasions, they just let a jam go where it wanted. Like here at the end with this Viola Lee Blues. It's Pigpen-less, too... just a 4-man band at this point. What a far, far cry this is from I'm a Hog For You Baby or Stealin'. You wanna talk about Primal Dead -- this VLB is a perfect example.
There's one more
Viola Lee Blues
I Know You Rider
In The Midnight Hour
Here's another bit of music that is Date Unknown. Location is thought to be the Pauley Ballroom at the University of California, Berkeley. Phil gives a mention of moving to Los Angeles next week so that would probably place this within a week of the Viola Lee Blues Rehearsal. I'd have to say this comes a day or two later... maybe even the same day?! That's not impossible, so far as I know. They do an alright Viola Lee, not an unpracticed, unknown version. One could really think that maybe that Rehearsal was the 1st time ever for that song, the birth of VLB. So these few tunes would be later... but when? No one knows. Who cares. Still some nice music!
One note -- this could be the first (that we have to listen to) You Don't Have To Ask and Midnight Hour. I said that about those two songs for 3/19 Carthay Studios and 3/25 Trooper's Hall... and it's true, in a way, those are the first we have in a known show setting... not that this, Pauley Ballroom #2, isn't a show setting but what's the date? Ahh, anyway, these two are probably the first.... if the guess is correct that this date is early February. Then again, You Don't Have To Ask is severely cut into here and Midnight Hour.... well, it has a funny ending that you've just got to hear and it's not really a version at all...