March 29, 2014

1972 Melodic Jams

One unusual trait of the Dead’s long jams in 1972 was that they would sometimes end Other Ones or Dark Stars with unique melodic sequences. Out of spacy or abstract passages, chord patterns would emerge that sounded rehearsed or familiar, but you couldn’t quite place where you’d heard them before, and generally they were never played again.
Of course this kind of jam happened in other years as well – I might just mention the 2/18/71 “Beautiful Jam” or the end-of-Dark-Star jam on 2/24/74 as examples – but for some reason there was a whole cluster of them in 1972.

Though they were improvised, I suspect these pieces may have been based on themes the Dead tried out in rehearsals, so when one bandmember suggested a chord sequence, the others could quickly latch on. Since ’69 the Dead had worked out a frequent technique of following a spacy or tense section of the jam with a “happy” chord sequence, relieving the tension and adding structure & dynamic contrast to the jam. They also had enough practice playing together that if Kreutzmann started tapping a new beat, or another player laid out a few chords or new melodic line, the rest of the band could rapidly form around it.
As I wrote elsewhere (about the Tighten Up & Feelin’ Groovy jams in 1970), “The Dead had a knack for doing these sequences that sounded familiar even if you couldn't quite place them, and their habit was often to play these after a passage of formlessness or building tension, so that these happy melodic passages would be kind of a release for the audience.”
Audiences frequently cheered these thematic jams, responding to them with joy even though they probably couldn’t have recognized the riffs. One reader suggests that this may have been a subconscious process that the Dead intentionally aimed for: “I think the Tighten Up jam as used by the GD worked a really cool magic trick on the listeners - it made a seemingly improvised piece of music suddenly sound perfect and just-right and totally satisfying… It is a pretty good trick to produce the enjoyment of something familiar within the framework of an improvisation. In other words, for a "typical" listener in 1970, the Tighten Up jam would have the best of both worlds - the newness and excitement of improvisation combined with the familiarity and satisfaction of a known theme, and without the listeners being aware of the precise reasons for their response.”

Weir described the Dead’s jams in a September 1972 Crawdaddy interview:
“We play cues to each other, and depending upon whether or not anybody’s listening, or whether anybody cares to second the motion, we’ll go that way. If you can get two on a trip, you generally go there. It can be something we all know or a completely new idea introduced within the context of what we’re doing. If the movement gets adopted, then we can go to a completely new place. Or if somebody introduces a familiar line from an old place – it may be a song or a passage that we’re more or less familiar with – we can go that way… Sometimes we know what we’re doing. Sometimes we’re completely lost in what we’re doing, and maybe it just grabs us and takes us there too. It seems to fall into place a lot to me also. It’s a tenuous art of trying to make format out of chaos, of course. As we get better practiced at it, we can get looser and freer in our associations, and let the music more or less move us in a given direction. Sometimes, if what we’re doing just really wants to go somewhere and the air is just pregnant with it, it’s undeniable, we’ll just go there. On a really good night, it’ll happen a succession of times. No one will even play a cue, yet bang we’re just off.”

Blair Jackson wrote about this process at work at the end of the Other One on 4/21/72 (in the CD liner notes): “The band doesn’t seem to have any idea about what, if any, song they might play next…so the Dead just float from one musical notion to the next. Squealing feedback gives way to a brief, lilting jam. At one point Billy clicks into a little groove and the others follow, and it develops into one of those lovely passages that feels familiar but isn’t quite – are those hints of Wharf Rat? is Sugar Magnolia around that bend? Instead they keep drifting about – Jerry gets into a hypnotic fingerpicking pattern at one point – until it all just peters out.”

Sometimes the band was not so successful, of course, and jams could peter out, drift away, or die undeveloped. They didn’t always play in perfect unison. There are plenty of instances when Weir & Lesh would play a chord pattern for Garcia, and he would ignore them. But there was also another side to “making format out of chaos” – the band generally had a strong sense of structure in the jams, keeping their destination in mind and listening to each other’s cues. A long jam would pass through several varied movements – a jazzy combo feel, a noisy Tiger jam, a peaceful quiet space, perhaps a bluesy interlude or fast rock shuffle – before ending in a new song or reprise. This broad outline could give even long Dark Stars a feeling of direction rather than aimlessness. And one of the Dead’s central techniques was to contrast sequences of noise, space or atonality with balancing sequences of melody and rhythm, bringing audiences from the void back to familiarity, as it were.

There were a few memorable times in 1972 when the melodic passages used to “climax” a jam took on a brief life of their own apart from the larger jam; when the groupmind took over and new themes poured out, never played before yet somehow familiar.
I thought I would make a list of the main unique structured jams from ‘72. I had a few rules for defining them:
- they almost always occur at the end of an Other One or Dark Star, often after a chaotic or spacy section, or around the verse.  
- they sound like distinct composed songs, with particular melodies or chords, and are sustained for more than a minute. Often they sound like familiar Dead tunes “recombined” and played in a new way.
- Feelin’ Groovy is not included. By 1972, the regular “thematic jams” the Dead had been playing back in ’70 were mostly gone. A couple early examples of the Mind Left Body theme are included, since the Dead wouldn’t develop that into a regular repeated jam until fall ’73. It’s possible some of these other themes could have turned into repeated jams, had the Dead chosen to do that; but clearly they decided not to play them more than once.

3/22/72 end of Caution [on the Rockin’ the Rhein bonus CD] – After a tense space and ominous conclusion to Caution, Garcia segues into a gentle Bobby McGee-type melody (at 3:30 on the CD), joined instantly by the band. This closely resembles the Bid You Goodnight theme, but is clearly a developed melody of its own. The fragile beauty lasts just three minutes before Phil awkwardly switches to Uncle John’s Band.
3/23/72 end of Dark Star, after 16:10 – Kicked off by Phil, this goes through several phases, including a Feelin’ Groovy and a country-picking Sugar Magnolia-type finish before returning to the Dark Star theme at 20:50.
4/8/72 end of Dark Star [28:10 on the official CD] – This comes out of a scary meltdown and has an ecstatic start similar to the 3/23 jam, with Garcia starting it off and the others immediately backing him. Weir & Garcia transition into an early descending Mind Left Body theme, and after four minutes Weir deftly blends in the Sugar Magnolia intro at the same tempo. (On a personal note, I broke down in tears the first time I heard this.)
4/21/72 end of the Other One [18:20 on the official CD] – After the verse ends, the Dead head into a short feedback space before Garcia enters a passage of Love Scene-type picking. As they float freely, Kreutzmann starts tapping a beat, and the band conjures a unique little jam from the air. Within two minutes Garcia brings it to an end with a repeated fingerpicked arpeggio in high notes.
7/25/72 Other One – Unusually, this jam is played before the first verse, from about 12:35-19:15. Growing out of a beautiful Garcia/Lesh duet, a beat materializes and something like an Allmans-style Spanish Jam emerges (some people also hear shades of St Stephen in there). Garcia even plays slide until Phil nudges them back into the Other One.
8/20/72 end of the Other One – After a jazzy Phil/Keith-dominated passage, they enter a stomping jam from about 18:45-20:30, structured by Phil’s chords, before falling back into the Other One theme.
9/21/72 end of Dark Star [30:35 on Dick’s Picks 36] – After a searching passage, Garcia starts a fingerpicking pattern; the band joins in and it turns into a Cumberland Blues-type jam that soon morphs into another lengthy, forceful Mind Left Body theme. Garcia emulates slide playing near the end (foreshadowing the late-’73 versions of this jam), before moving into Morning Dew around 36:50.
12/31/72 end of the Other One – After the verse ends, Garcia heads immediately into a peaceful, bluesy jam, the others & Crosby accompanying him so closely it must have been planned. They bid farewell to the year in amazing style (from 21:00-26:20), until Garcia finally volume-swells his way into Morning Dew.

One repeated theme that’s unique to 1972 is the Philo Stomp. In summer ’72 Phil had been playing inchoate solos in the Other One – in the fall these bloomed into the Philo Stomp, a distinct chordal riff in which the rest of the band would join. This was played in a few shows in Dark Star and the Other One (10/18, 10/24, 10/28, 11/13), but was dropped in the shows after that. Phil’s solos in later months would quote the theme, but remained more meandering and free-flowing. He also started frequently playing a jazzy 6/8 riff which would become a regular feature of 1973 jams (for instance, in the 6/24/73 Dark Star, after 6:20).

One thing about the Dead’s style of jamming was that the band would often coalesce around little structures within the flow of a longer jam. These might soon evaporate, or they could develop for a few minutes as short mini-jams. So there are plenty of shorter semi-structured jams that could be considered here. A few examples, at random:
4/17/72 Dark Star – jam after 24:20, lasts about 4 minutes
5/4/72 Dark Star – jam starts about 7 minutes after the drum solo (there’s a slight family resemblance to the 4/8 jam, til Phil starts a Feelin’ Groovy jam at 9:50)
5/10/72 end of the Other One – from roughly 32-33:30 minutes in (Weir’s chord pattern gives a solid structure to an airy space section)
11/19/72 Dark Star – from about 22:20-24:45 (a spontaneous chord structure is born and passes away; then from the void Weir pulls a familiar Prelude) 
12/10/72 Other One – from about 18:00-22:35 (out of space, a rhythmic, jazzy proto-Eyes of the World jam)

One reader also suggested a jam in the 9/10/72 Dark Star, which loosely builds from around 7:15–12:50. (This Dark Star also features small sub-themes at 4:20-5:10 and 17:00-18:15, and ends with an Other One-type jam after 27:55.) 
Earlier sections in the 12/31/72 Other One could also be considered: out of the bass/drums break, a fast jazzy jam lasting about 6 minutes; then later, a chordal jam from about 13:40 that blends into an Other One jam. Parts like these I think of more as rhythmic grooves rather than distinct melodic themes.
I haven’t done a comprehensive search, and I’m sure many more examples could be found. Perhaps someday we’ll have a complete catalog of these little structured sub-jams. (On the other hand, going too far down this path with numerous possible examples might obscure the structured melodic jams that are really distinctive and memorable.)

I may have missed some good ones – please let me know if there are other jams you think should be included here.

March 2, 2014

The Brotherhood vs. the Dead Machine

Musically, the early seventies are remembered as some of the Dead’s finest years. But some of those inside the scene had a very different perspective on what was happening with the band.

Robert Hunter recalled the Europe ’72 tour:  
“What I most remember about '72 was the tragedy of it. Looking back over empty years that should have brimmed with joyful greatness, I realize more and more fully how tragic it was... How much should be said? To me the '72 tour was about division. I joined to see Europe and to write songs (and because I always toured with the band) – endless European bus trips seemed like a God sent time to get the next album sketched out since Garcia was almost always otherwise occupied in the States - maybe a fourth album to follow the Workingman's Dead/American Beauty/Rambling Rose trilogy. Instead a major insurrection occured. The Bolo-Bozo metaphor was a way of laughing it off, but the always incipient schism between crew consciousness and artist orientation became decisive. Every meal was a food fight. Sensitivity to cultures was nearly non-existent. It was not only insinuated but bluntly proclaimed that the show could not go on without muscle and tech. Strike was threatened. The band was intimidated and no one was able to call the bluff. I split off from the group at the end of that tour, feeling alienated, groundless and forlorn, eventually moving to England. Though I continued providing songs and collaborating with Garcia, in essence I retired from the Grateful Dead touring and business juggernaut after 'the '72 tour. It was plainly headed for a brick wall. So was I.” [1]

This perspective of the “schism” between band and crew hasn’t really surfaced in other accounts of Europe ‘72, though McNally drops some hints that the crew was pretty hard to deal with on the tour. (Jon McIntire diplomatically said, “The equipment guys could be a problem since they were…emotionally willful.”) They were a boisterous bunch, swinging bats and flicking knives – in one famous incident, they dumped ice cream over a young protester in Paris, who then proceeded to sabotage their equipment truck. The Dead seem to have found all this more hilarious than Hunter did.

Hunter wrote more about his later disenchantment with the Dead scene:
“About midway through the ‘70s shows became a trial for me to go to. Before then I was there with every note, immersed in the adventure - the blossom was bloomin' and there was no telling what the flower would look like. But something indefinable that attracted me became increasingly rare. Not to say it didn't show up in a thousand instances right up to the end, folks say it did and I believe them.
On the other hand, maybe it was just that I was falling into disuse, my personal relations with these "Stars" becoming strained and less productive. Pig was gone, Keith hit the skids pretty quick, I never even got to know Brent. The drug stuff was no longer experimental, just stupid addiction. I'd break away and then wander back. Coteries became entrenched and the politics were insufferable. The understanding among the politicos was: all you needed to do to work your will was to get Jerry on your side - and the way to do that was to isolate him - the rest of us could go fuck ourselves. You can pretty well suss from Rock's book the kind of contempt in which he (and others) held everyone but the big G . They had contempt for him too, but it was tinged with astute respect for his actual power.
I think this Machiavellianism was the main source of the leaks in the dream. It conditioned everything. Jerry knew it for what it was and hated it. He retreated into dreams of his own, tried to make music apart from it, but the die was cast. He was like a lost dinosaur trying to fit into a trailer home.” [2]

Hunter missed the early years of philosophical banter with the band. “I often wish the interpersonal Grateful Dead scene had continued along those lines. We used to shoot the shit stratospherically, yes indeed we did. That's the part you won't find in the tell all books because who can begin to remember all that was said? It has to be created anew on a regular basis. Prior to 1972, the Dead was all about discourse and music. You can hear echoes of the dialogue in the music. After '72, drugs and earthbound elements established domination. Dialogue metamorphosized into employee gripes and road plans. The butterfly returned to the chrysalis and emerged a centipede with numerous legs, capable of infinite truckin'.” [3]

Hunter wasn’t happy to see the transformation of the Dead into an organization devoted to internal politics, “employee gripes and road plans.” The original vision seemed distorted, in particular by the band’s burly road crew. After one tour, Hunter wrote “The Ten Commandments of Rock & Roll” about the Dead’s crew:

1. Suck up to the top cats.
2. Do not express independent opinions
3. Do not work for common interest, only factional interests.
4. If there’s nothing to complain about, dig up some old gripe.
5. Do not respect property or persons other than band property or persons.
6. Make devastating judgments on persons and situations without adequate information.
7. Discourage and confound personal, technical and/or creative projects.
8. Single out absent persons for intense criticism.
9. Remember that anything you don’t understand is trying to fuck with you.
10. Destroy yourself physically and morally and insist that all true brothers do likewise as an expression of unity. [4]

Echoing this, old friend Willy Legate once wrote a note to the band about their scene:
“Bad-mouthing someone in his absence is an art form, deliberately cultivated here… Optimistic descriptions of situations are sometimes passed out to anyone nearby who is prepared to play the role of patronizing fawning multitude. The optimistic description is given with the understanding by all concerned that if it should change within the next hour or week, that adjustment will not be relayed; in other words, that anything good you’re told is meaningless. In the words of the prophet: if you don’t know by now, don’t mess with it.” [5]

The Dead had a very macho and intimidating road crew who made their own rules, and Hunter wasn’t alone in feeling aghast at their behavior. Stories abound of their hazing rituals, surliness, violence, and random abuse of outsiders. Once in ’73 a crewmember dumped the group’s dinners over a Philadelphia promoter’s head (it wasn’t the food specified in the contract), prompting his partner to write Sam Cutler: “The crew was given as many extra considerations as we could muster… We’ve had quite a few problems with your crew in the past. You say that the band knows that they’re animals but that they can’t do anything about the situation.” Cutler responded that they wouldn’t work with that promoter again. [6]
One Rolling Stone article in 1973 pointed out the roadies’ “habit of destroying hotel rooms,” but Steve Parish tried to explain: “We’ve shown a rough exterior to a lot of people, but that’s because you get jumpy on the road… We’re not gorillas. We’re all really sensitive guys. Well, yeah, it used to be a big thing to flip out – we were experts at flippin’ out. And we did a lot of machoing out too – a brotherhood swaggerin’ kind of thing.” [7]
But the Dead must have found it useful to have their own Hell’s Angels-type characters on the crew, keeping the growing audience at bay. (Band members trashed their own share of hotel rooms, too.) The Dead also took pride in having their own kind of anarchic democracy, where everyone in the crew would have as much say as the bandmembers in what went on. As Garcia said, “They’re there when we have our business meetings. We’re dragging them through life, shouldn’t they have some say about it? We’re all working on the same thing – why should we treat each other any differently?” [8]

David Gans wrote:
“In the beginning, I think, the presumption was that everybody would behave responsibly and look out for the group; but it was well known that you could pretty much do what you wanted to do in the Dead world. Those high tribal ideals the family once embodied gave way to the realities of the tour. Power went to the men who put the rubber to the road… Jerry Garcia was a most reluctant emperor. He was pretty much the only one who could have controlled any of it, from the thugs on his own crew on down, but for the most part he refused to correct anyone’s behavior. A long-time associate of the Dead left the tour in 1972, he told me years later, because ‘I realized that Jerry was never going to control his people, and I couldn’t stand to work in that sort of craziness.’” [9]

Mickey Hart told McNally that the crew “became so powerful, and we just said whatever. That was one of our downfalls, not taking a stand with the crew. They didn’t want to work, and we said okay, whatever. It was one of the stupidest things we’ve ever done, letting the crew run the show… Rifkin and Ram Rod were the great spirit of the Grateful Dead, the real souls, but some of the other guys had other agendas, partying animals… We let it go down. It was our cross to bear. We spotted it. We thought it was endearing and cute, letting the quippies run the show. That’s what I thought. What an odd thing. Everything else is so odd, why shouldn’t this be odd? Maybe they’re protecting us from some evil… I liked all of them.” [10]

Garcia admitted that “the quippies” were not always the kindest souls: “The Grateful Dead is not where you’re going to find comfort. In fact, if anything, you’ll catch a lot of shit. And if you don’t get it from the band, you’ll get it from the roadies. They’re merciless. They’ll just gnaw you like a dog. They’ll tear your flesh off. They can be extremely painful.” [11]

Garcia & Lesh joked about Steve Parish once –
Garcia: There’ve been meaner guys – Steve ain’t that mean…
Lesh: Now when Jerry breaks a string, he’s lucky he doesn’t get garroted – “How dare you break a string?”
Garcia: [Laughs] Right – “I don’t want to have to ask that big guy for something – I’ll just play without the string. God knows what he’ll do, holy shit.”
Lesh: “I’ll whistle the top notes.” [Laughter] [12]

Parish and Garcia reminisced about life on the road – 
Garcia: I loved it that time when you changed all my strings but one. He just wanted to see if I’d notice…
Parish: You’re in a world where everybody is trying to party, and trying to get you to party… You’ll be made fun of if you fuck up…that keeps you on your toes…
Garcia: The road thing is, some people can adapt to it and some can’t. Some people really go to pieces on the road…
Parish: Everybody was always playing practical jokes on each other…constantly. If you ever let your guard down your foot would be on fire, or you got a real weird haircut – and a lot worse stuff that I can’t talk about… You’ve got to be able to take a hotfoot as a joke at 5:00 in the morning when you’re trying to sleep sitting up in a seat and you’re pissed off and your back hurts and maybe you’re wounded…and then everybody’s laughing at you, so maybe then you’ll laugh…  We’ve had some [new] people we took out, and they only lasted like one trip… They couldn’t make it through the grueling, rigorous initiation, which goes on for years. You have to prove yourself on so many levels – little games that we play, sort of like initiation rites, on the crew. You have to run a certain gamut…
Garcia: You’ve got guys like Kidd nippin’ at your heels day in and day out…
Parish: When you’re getting yelped at, you love to yelp at someone else. We used to have some fights – people would look at us and say, ‘They must hate each other,’ but we loved each other. If somebody else from outside messed with us, they were like opening up Pandora’s box.  [13]


In his time touring with the Dead in 1974, Ned Lagin didn’t really have a problem with the crew in particular, but was concerned about how the wider Dead family was negatively impacting the music.
“There were crew members, particularly from Oregon, who were just great to me… There were a few members of the crew who were less gracious, cordial, and friendly, and some of the business and management and touring family were not particularly receptive to my being there. They did not want to see the band go off into outer space and not return. Collective composition wasn’t random, but it wasn’t particularly controllable; you got where you were getting when you got there. There were people who thought those prescribed happy sequences of Grateful Dead tunes should just go on.” [14]
The Phil & Ned segments of the shows ran into some resistance. “Sometimes there was acceptance and sometimes there was rejection – audience rejection, and comments by critics and writers that were not appreciated, I guess. Jerry didn’t like audience rejection; he worked very hard to be who he was, but also to be popular, quite honestly. And people weren’t as open as they said they were…and never would be. And I think Jerry was not happy in acknowledging that. There was a lot of criticism about weird music, strange music – which none of us really liked.” [15]

Lagin saw the conflict between the mainstream rock aspects of the Dead that were more popular and accessible, and the more esoteric improvisational possibilities that could be closed off if the Dead simply pursued audience acceptance. It must be said that the Dead managed to balance these two sides of their music, but offstage Lagin was wary of the internal culture that had formed around the band. The Dead’s “pirate brotherhood” was going sour.
“The Grateful Dead was a brotherhood like the Hell’s Angels in a certain sense, though by ’74-75 that was past being visible except as a rationalizing philosophy. Anybody who entered the brotherhood got a real, though unstructured, trial by fire. It lasted for months or years. It was like a screen test to be in the pirate movie.
“I grew up in New York, and I had a certain amount of toughness and dedication to what I was doing… They thought I could take it, and maybe give it as well. But when you were getting messed with by somebody, they chose almost always to not take responsibility.”
He mentioned a run-in he had with a Hell’s Angel at Roosevelt Stadium, where the band didn’t interfere but some crew members stepped in. “When authority figures in the band such as Jerry or Phil were present at…minor injustices taking place, they did not choose to exert a mitigating force. Some of the crew did, as regular stand-up guys… I thought there was a certain level of counterculture communal hypocrisy, of…not exercising any real level of control, involvement, and responsibility for situations they created. I think they had a highly contextual sense of loyalty and responsibility for their friends; it was a registration of some deep cynicism – and fatalism.”

“How the band members interacted in the musical realm should have been very different. But the “family” issues increasingly spilled over into the music. I think there was a lot of interpersonal politics and frustration, related to the growth of the band, the growth of the audience, and the change in the technology.
“We have a growth economy in the United States. Instead of living within our means, we have to continue to create new markets so everybody can have more and more. Although the Grateful Dead came from the counterculture, they wound up behaving just like the dominant culture… They thought they had to continue to expand to stay alive. They did that better than other groups, and longer than anybody else. But fundamentally, they were locked into the same American Dream growth paradigm…
“This was a period of transition for Phil and for Jerry and for the Grateful Dead – getting bigger and more famous and doing more stuff. Commensurate with their becoming bigger, there was, at least to my way of thinking, a bigger emphasis on a family culture of extremes and nihilism. Everyone seemed to want something from someone else… Music was not enough.”
In Ned’s case, he wanted to play in a different, more quiet way than the Dead were playing – his desire to play “minimally, delicately” wasn’t that suited to the rock-show context. “We couldn’t get back to the delicate places, the intimate, small, cozy, loving little spaces, and I really wanted to be able to play that kind of music… There was too much emphasis on electric instruments and technology, rather than on collective intuition and expression… Because of where the Grateful Dead were going, and because of the frustrations and dynamics within the band – Phil’s and Jerry’s nihilism and extremes and hardness and edge, and the requirements of meeting the demands of a rock & roll extrovert culture – it didn’t seem that we could get to moments of gentleness and delicacy that weren’t bracketed with dynamic or power contrasts.”  [16]

Aside from Lagin’s concerns, by the Europe ’74 tour the band was frazzled. He recalled, “Everybody was deeply upset…by the time we got to London, everybody was clearly doing too many drugs. We had a meeting with everybody who was on the road with the band. We agreed that everything was fucked up: to be blunt, cocaine was a problem. We all agreed to flush our stashes, which we all dutifully did.” [17]  The rest of the tour went more calmly, but “everybody was burned out…and very tolerant of excess.” [18]
Now and then there would be LSD nights as a way to reestablish group communion, “recoup the good old Grateful Dead.” Since Keith avoided acid, he would be dosed. “No one thought there was serious irresponsibility going on, particularly since it was within the pirate cowboy brotherhood.” [19]


Bear returned to the crew in 1972, after two years in prison, and noticed a dramatic change. In the earlier years, “Everything was a constant flow of ideas and so forth. And there was no isolation. Everybody was involved. That was the scene that I left. When I came back in 1972 [it was more like a compartmentalized union organization]…everybody had a job and a responsibility, and that was his, and this was his…all isolated. And this went on for two years. I come back, and there’s this scene that’s totally different, where nobody is going and helping the other guy – ‘Oh no, that’s my job, that’s your job…’ And all of a sudden I found that the three things that I did – recording, stage monitors, house mixing…there were three guys doing that job. Each one fiercely defending his little territory… It was ‘this is mine, this is yours…’
“Suddenly there wasn’t a place [for me]… I was still smoking a lot of pot, so I was being everybody’s fool. You know how with kids somebody would get down behind you and the next guy would push you over, stick you in the aisle and trip you? It seemed like that, psychically; that kind of thing was happening, so I was flopping down…and being a real nuisance… I had to figure it out: why is this different? Why are these guys not being nice to each other? Why is there this heavy jockeying going on?... [It was] power trips, lots of power trips…
“Going from something which I considered as being an almost tribal thing of everybody sharing in all of the work and all of the obligations, and helping each other like a bunch of brothers, all of a sudden I came back and it was like the union and the management…There was a lot of cocaine and they were bitching at each other and using abusive language, and a lot of beer and everything else. I was feeling very uncomfortable with the whole thing…
“I was getting pissed off at the way in which every time I tried to do something, somebody would interfere. I’m not going to lay any blame, it was a group-consciousness thing, and they didn’t even think of it that way… The scene had changed; it didn’t seem to have a place for me…  
“It was too fucking much. There was a lot of coke and a lot of beer and a lot of booze and a lot of roughness and there were too many people working, there was too much weird shit going on, and there were too many power struggles at the top – management against management against the record company. The whole thing was just this weird energy going, always this maneuvering. The brotherhood was gone. There was a lot of talk of brotherhood, but from my viewpoint there wasn’t any brotherhood. It was like a lot of guys protecting their territory, this is mine and this is yours… And I was in there with this concept of cooperative, tribal, brothers all working together… It wasn’t working. I was very uncomfortable. And every time I turned around, I was pushed a little bit closer to the perimeter. Or that was my feeling.” [20]

Perhaps the low point for Bear came when some equipment was stolen at one show and a crew member “picked me up and threw me into a water cooler.” After his experiences in late ’72, Bear apparently stopped working with the road crew for the next couple years, instead working on the band’s sound system.
“They started saying, ‘We want to be bigger… We want to go to bigger shows.’” The end result was the Wall of Sound, which Bear had mixed feelings about. “The thing was such a monster. It required so many people, so much bureaucracy, so much logistics, so many trucks, so many stages, so many boxes, so much wire, so many amps, it became this huge thing! Because it was very inefficient… It was a logistical nightmare. There were a lot of problems… This thing was out of control.” [21]
“Eventually it just became too much, and it collapsed on itself and the band just backed away from it suddenly…one day they came out and said, ‘Hey, we can’t handle it anymore…’ In this case they couldn’t fire anybody – they always felt like that kind of family. They didn’t know what to do, so they just stopped playing, hoping that the people would go off because they had to make a living… When they started back up, they started back up with the guys who hung in the tightest. Parish was working with the Garcia Band and Ram Rod was involved… The core guys were the guys who had clung to the Dead and made something to do…and the others had gone off in different directions.” [22]

Weir later said that in ’74 the crew was “drowning in mountains of blow… We had a crew that was being paid like executives for doing blue-collar work, and they were abusing our generosity.” According to Weir, one goal of the hiatus was to force many of the crew members to find other jobs. [23]

Lesh recalled ’74 in his book as a time of “stresses and strains” that produced “cracks and crevices in our unanimity of purpose.” Part of this was due to the businesses they’d formed – from the Dead offices sprouted not just two record labels, but also a booking agency and travel agency. Lesh sighed, “In our naivety, the band thought that we could control all this without falling prey to the infighting and dissension that comes with the territory. At the same time, no one in the band wanted to be bothered with the boring details of such control.” Infighting and dissension soon followed, with the band firing their tour manager Sam Cutler at the start of 1974 as a result of various office backstabbings and accusations. They rounded out the year by firing manager Jon McIntire on the Europe tour after more arguments.
“We now employed twice as many stage crew and truckers as before, meaning we had to play larger venues, sell more tickets, and play more often to be able to support the sound system. Luckily, our audience was continuing to expand; even so, the financial strain would eventually prove untenable… The expenses associated with the Wall of Sound meant that we were constrained to play only the largest venues…where the intimacy we’d prized in the ballroom era was a fading memory. The stages were ten to twelve feet high, further removing us from contact with the audience, who receded into a blur of shapes lacking any individuality. Our crew was twice as large as it needed to be, and could be quite surly. Simultaneously, the psychic atmosphere was beginning to cloud up with the emergence of cocaine as the drug of choice among the crew, generating an ‘us against the world’ mindset. The amount of security and backstage space needed in an arena had tripled from that of a theater or ballroom, and the band became more and more detached, withdrawing into the famous ‘bubble’ of isolation out of the sheer desire for preservation of our energy and sanity.” [24]
(Though Lesh says that “at that point I wasn’t drinking or using drugs,” other evidence makes it sound like he was already chugging beers pretty heavily by 1973.) [25]

In a November ’74 interview, Garcia sounded quite unhappy about how the year had gone.
“Basically, success sucks. And all the other crap that goes along with it. We've unconsciously come to the end of what you can do in America, how far you can succeed. And it's nothing, it's nowhere. It means billions of cops and people busted at your gigs. It means high prices and hassling over extra-musical stuff. It's unnecessary…
“Our whole development has been 'going along with the changes.' It's not as though we've plotted to get to a certain level. By just not thinking about it, or not making conscious decisions about what we were doing, we ended up in that place of stadiums, coliseums, large civic-owned and civic-controlled buildings, high ticket prices, enormous overhead, in an effort to fulfill the requirement of whatever the level change was. For example, we changed from playing theaters to large places…because there were more people who wanted to see us than we had time. So the obvious thing was to go to bigger rooms. [But] that meant we can only go to bigger rooms if we sound good in them, and that led to our whole PA thing, which is expensive. Our rationale was, 'We'll divert the income into developing the resource' because, really, we have a relationship with our audience...
“But the truth is we've been stuck in this total control situation; our whole lives are controlled by economic circumstances. We're sort of up against the back end of success… It's been gradual, but that's the really insidious thing about it. We were prepared mentally for any quick jump, but going slowly into this scene, it becomes almost habitual. Finally we all realized: 'it's gotten to the point where we can no longer really make enough money to keep it working at the present rate. And also there isn't anything for us to get off on. We're removed from the audience, we're removed from what we're doing and it just is a drag.’” [26]
"That's where we ended up in terms of the largeness of our audience and the greatness of demand for what we were doing and so forth. We felt that was a dead end and there was no place for us to go from there, so at that point the experience for us got to be totally controlled in the sense of [it being] airplanes to motels, motels to gigs, heavy security backstage, nobody near the stage. And what's worse is the way very large venues deal with people — they deal with them in a sort of cattle-prod methodology: lots of cops, lots of frisk lines. We felt like that was not what we wanted to do; that was clearly not it." [27]


Ned Lagin felt that the feeling of togetherness that the Dead’s shows were supposed to inspire had become more distant by ’74.
“The collective id of the Grateful Dead juxtaposed the American mythology of doing what you wanted to do in the wide open West…with a certain tribal psychedelic pseudo-telepathic conformity about ‘being on the bus or off’ – a juxtaposition that could be as destructive as it is empowering… ‘You’re either on the bus or off the bus’ was a real clubby, exclusionary, nonsensical thing to me. It’s the pirate creed: ‘You’re sailing with us or you’re not sailing with us…’ It’s not a question of being on the [bus] or off… The idea of sense of spirit and community…and interconnectivity – unfortunately, at least the way I see it, the audience didn’t become the Grateful Dead. They just wanted to get on the bus with the Grateful Dead.” [28]

Bear’s perspective was also that the communion between band and audience of earlier years was now gone. “The microcosm [the band onstage] and the macrocosm [the audience in the hall] are now separated. The macrocosm/microcosm of brotherhood and community, which was the Grateful Dead family, propagated out into the audience and took hold. When I went away, it was macrocosm/microcosm; the Grateful Dead and crew were the same as the people that were out there. Well, the band/crew thing, as the stages got higher…it produced a separation, a gulf. And the microcosm turned into something else, but the macrocosm continued to be what it was…
[Early on,] our stage was sometimes two feet off the floor. I was in the audience… [Now] when I’m walking in the crowd…I feel the sixties, I feel the way it all was. In the old days, there was no separation. The Grateful Dead, the deadheads, the crew, everybody was the same… It was like a family… The concept of tribalism, of brotherhood, has propagated out and maintained itself as the band removed from [it], as they got to the point where they come off the stage into limos and are gone, from the days when they walked through the hall, through the people, hung around – had a gig that would go to dawn, sometimes.” [29]

From their different viewpoints, each saw the Dead’s ideals eroding as the “family” and audience expanded. Hunter hasn’t talked directly in these terms about the distance between band and audience that I’ve seen, but he was focused on his own distance from the band.
“My tie with the organization has been that of an outsider ever since '72. I was once described as a maverick's maverick. All I ever wanted to do, back then, was to put my full energies into the songwriting aspect of the group, but that became harder and harder to do as other matters assumed greater immediate importance. I continued to write - there must be hundreds of lost songs, since that was before word processor files, and often there was only one typed or handwritten copy which, like as not, would go in someone's back pocket and end its life in the washing machine. "Hey Hunter, do you have another copy of that song?" I'd try to remember it, end up writing something else. A few phrases might remain.” [30]
“The pressure of making regular records was a creative spur for a long time, but poor sales put the economic weight on live concerts where new material wasn't really required, so my role in the group waned. A difficult time for me, being at my absolute peak and all. I had to go on the road myself to make a living. It was good for me. I developed a sense of self direction that didn't depend on the Dead at all.” [31]

No longer on the road with the Dead, he gradually stopped going to Dead shows altogether. Though it’s hard to trace the decline in his attendance or just what the last shows he saw were, he did say that in the later years “I only went to only one big outdoor stadium gig” (in 1987). Flabbergasted, he decided “the only way I could remain dedicated to my part of the vision was to stay clean away.” [32]
Though initially pleased by the Dead’s burst of popularity in ’87, over the following years Hunter came to see it as ruinous. “The "Big Time" was always problematic… I don't ache for the same thing the fans ache for, so my viewpoint is very different. I don't even ache for the promise I watched going down the drain for a dozen years. Big time success meant less than shit to me. It was like a forced death march. I was in the trip to write good songs. Nothing more, nothing less. My engagement was exactly equal to the opportunity to do that.”  [33]
He felt it was fortunate that financial success came late to the Dead: “Getting this far with my spirit and creativity intact are far more important to me than getting an olympic sized swimming pool. Having "big money" is a career of its own… The increased standard of living attendant on sudden and disproportionate wealth is, to my mind, the source of the major problems which destroy the camaraderie of successful bands... Two things which allowed the Grateful Dead to become what it was were lack of radio success over the years and lack of overwhelming wealth. We were given leave to grow musically, rather than as a financial empire. That came later, but the deed was already done.” [34]

During this time Hunter became suspicious that the Dead were intentionally dropping his tunes, even while Garcia was blocking him out as well. “Tunes dropped out of repertoire for years at a time, replaced by others, for no other reason than to have a different show. If a complex tune dropped out, it would need to be rehearsed to be brought back in, and there are so many songs some of them just went bye-bye. As I stopped going to shows, becoming less interested in pushing my material on an increasingly apathetic collaborator, a lot of my songs were replaced in the repertoire with cover tunes, which the audience found quite acceptable. I was never clear on what the message was, other than that my less than subservient stance, born of frustration, was unacceptable and I was being deleted insofar as that was possible to do, considering the backbone of the repertoire. It wasn't a highly motivating situation.” Hunter found Garcia at a “creative impasse – he was unavailable for years at a time, other than for musical projects he could accomplish standing on his head – and it was imperative that I seek elsewhere…[to find] the mutual respect and excitement in creating that is such an important part of collaboration.” [35]

Of course, on a personal level Hunter also felt robbed of his friend – not by the Dead, but by addiction. “Heroin, period, destroyed our scene. It destroyed Jerry… I hate the drug because it fucked my life over so bad, via my friends, without my even enjoying whatever the pleasures of taking it happened to be. Watching all human feelings die from the sidelines. Being excluded from creative participation because [I was] neither a junkie nor an "enabler"… My diving experiences with Jerry [in 1993] were the only time I felt in touch with my cantankerous old friend in a decade and a half.” [36]

In a way, by the stadium shows of the ‘80s the band were revisiting the problems they’d faced in the early ‘70s and had never really solved – if anything, most of the issues had gotten worse. Lesh wrote, “Suddenly we were drawing so many people to our shows that we now had to play mostly stadiums and huge indoor arenas… It’s a very rare stadium show that can sustain the shared intensity of focus that’s needed for ignition, let alone lift-off; the audience needs to know that they’re making the music… The psychic connection and sense of community shared by the band and the audience is the key to our music and to the Grateful Dead ‘experience.’ This connection can be diluted by the presence of too many people; especially if people were coming to our shows because they heard that it was a great party, or because they heard that they could score drugs there… Playing stadiums had been exciting at first, but the thrill of projecting our music across such vast spaces evaporated rapidly in the face of the mind-numbing sterility of the stadium environment. It came to feel as if we were playing into a vacuum, with no possibility of feedback or response from an audience that was barely visible from the stage.” [37] 

While in ’74 they could back off and try to start afresh, in the later years they couldn’t – they still felt trapped. By ’91 Garcia was starting to complain loudly about this.
One witness said, “He wanted to take a break; it was very clear… There was one meeting where they were talking about the stadium tour of ’91 and he stopped everybody and said, ‘Am I the only one who thinks that stadium shows suck? I don’t ever want to play in another stadium. Does anybody else feel the way I feel?’ And nobody said anything. But they were trapped: big overhead, big family, dates are reserved. Who’s gonna say, ‘Yeah, you’re right. Let’s cancel the stadium tour’?” [38]
Lesh’s book has a sample of the minutes from one meeting, summarizing Garcia’s statements: “We are a community, a family, a tribe. This pressure chokes off enthusiasm. It’s killing to keep doing the same tours. It has not much dignity. The pressure is so great that we can’t stop. It’s hard to be creative with a gun held to your head. It’s a huge responsibility. (Vince adds, “We need to take some time together to rework things. Doesn’t want to stop – can hardly afford his house now.”) Talking about 25 years and is burnt-out and wants to do what he wants to do… (Kreutzmann suggests taking six months off.) Can’t guarantee the workers. We can make enough to take six months off without shutting down. We did it in 1986…we can try to do it next year… Try to eliminate the fall tour.” [39]
Garcia went at length about this to Rolling Stone that year – asked if he’d told the band at meetings that he wasn’t having fun playing with them anymore, he said, “Yeah, absolutely… The last couple of times I’ve been there screaming, ‘Hey, you guys!’ Because there are times when you go onstage and it’s just plain hard to do, and you start to wonder, ‘Well, why the fuck are we doing this if it’s so hard?’… I probably brought it out in the open, but everybody in the band is in the same place I am. We’ve been running on inertia for quite a long time. I mean, insofar as we have a huge overhead, and we have a lot of people that we’re responsible for, who’re working for us and so forth, we’re reluctant to do anything to disturb that. We don’t want to take people’s livelihoods away. But it’s us out there, you know. And in order to keep doing it, it has to be fun. And in order for it to be fun, it has to keep changing… 
"We’re going to have to construct new enthusiasm for ourselves, because we’re getting a little burned out… So we have to figure out how we are going to make this fun for ourselves… To me the answer is, let’s write a whole bunch of new stuff, and let’s thin out the stuff we’ve been doing. We need a little bit of time to fall back and collect ourselves and rehearse…and come up with some new material… 
(RS: Do you think you might stop touring for a year or so, like you did back in 1974?) "That’s what we’re trying to work up to now. We’re actually aiming for six months off the road… I don’t know when it will happen…” [40]

It didn’t happen that way, but Hunter felt that by then it was too late for the Dead to recover. He wrote a year after Garcia’s death:
“Say, for example, the band had continued, with a break for a heart bypass operation for Jerry, and the problems with the crowd escalated even more? Suppose the shows became insuperably problematic to attend? It was not only headed that way, you know, it was full upon us. And say the music was suffering for this, the whole inspiration - because what kind of thoughtful musicians would expose crowds to that kind of thing just to make money or jam? What I'm driving at is the very likely probability that you and many others would find that what was so good and moving in what the GD was being destroyed by circumstance. Entropy, if you will. What happened had to happen pretty soon, whether via death or retirement. The fractalization into smaller units, forced by necessity, is probably the only real solution. Downscaling for the Dead was impossible. We were about ready for another quantum leap and it would have been a disaster. … A lot of people were already caught in that quandary. The music was often not all that hot and many didn't like what we were becoming. A mega-stadium powerhouse. Venues were closing their doors to us. Violence was erupting. It was a personal quandary for me. I often felt we should call it a day. Jerry often felt the imminence of true disaster. But who rides the tiger fears to dismount.” [41]

All of Hunter’s comments here were written around that time in 1996, which should be kept in mind considering their bitter tone. The interviews he gave while the Grateful Dead were active are generally optimistic about his work with the band, and (that I’ve found) give no sign of his estrangement. His bad feelings about what the Dead were becoming, he kept to himself until after Garcia died.
“My dream for the Grateful Dead went down in flames too and I am somewhat bitter, but not embittered. I think that's an important distinction. I believe in the community... All I can say for certain is contained in the old expression: "the jewel is in the lotus"…of course, the lotus is renowned for growing out of the muck and mire. The jewel is the community which flourished around the Grateful Dead. The lotus, muck and mire were the band and its internal scene.” [42]



4. McNally, Long Strange Trip p. 57
5. McNally 60
6. McNally 268
7. Perry, “A New Life for the Dead,” Rolling Stone 11/22/73
8. Gans, Conversations with the Dead p. 57
9. Gans, “All His Children Grew and Grew” (from Tuedio, Grateful Dead In Concert) -
see also
10. McNally 215
11. Henke, Garcia interview, Rolling Stone 10/31/91
12. Conversations 238
13. Conversations 223-5, 231-2
14. Conversations 362
15. Conversations 374
16. Conversations 362-64, 373-74
17. Conversations 365
18. Conversations 369
19. Conversations 366
20. Conversations 327-29, 331, 334-35
21. Conversations 332
22. Conversations 335
23. McNally 475
24. Lesh, Searching for the Sound p. 218
28. Conversations 362, 365
29. Conversations 339-40
37. Lesh 281, 301
38. Jackson, Garcia p. 405
39. Lesh 298
40. Henke, Garcia interview, Rolling Stone 10/31/91

February 17, 2014

Garcia in the Background

Jerry Garcia spent a lot of time encouraging and helping other musicians, particularly in the early years of the Dead. There are quite a few albums that would not exist or would sound quite different, if not for his support. I’ve been asked to write a post about this, so here is a list of some of the music that Garcia helped create. This shouldn’t be considered a finished piece, just incomplete musings!

The first example is Jefferson Airplane’s “Surrealistic Pillow” album, where Garcia was credited as “musical & spiritual adviser.” He stayed with the Airplane through many of the album sessions, playing on several songs, helping with arrangements, and effectively acting as unofficial co-producer for the album. This is especially surprising since the Airplane had already made a successful album, while Garcia and the Dead only had one failed single to their name.

The New Riders of the Purple Sage, of course, would not exist without Garcia, who was the co-founder of the band. I’m sure John Dawson would have formed another group to do his songs, and it may even have included a pedal-steel player; but it would probably have sounded rather different, and it certainly would not have had the constant initial exposure to audiences the New Riders had, opening for the Dead for two years straight.

David Crosby’s first solo album, “If I Could Only Remember My Name,” would have been a bit different without Garcia’s contributions. Crosby later said, “Jerry Garcia is responsible for that record a very great deal. He was there night after night after night…thinking, listening, talking - you know, acting as a friend, saying ‘Hmmm, man, what if you, how did you, why don't you try a little more, and....’ And he would play. He played on a lot of stuff.” [1] "Jerry must have come around to Wally Heider's every night for a long time, and he was so helpful, so bright, so inventive... If I had to elect one musician to represent musicians in the Galactic Congress of Beings, it would have been him." [2]

Garcia was also heavily involved with “Blows Against the Empire” and later Paul Kantner/Grace Slick albums, and apparently had quite a bit of creative input. “Blows,” Crosby’s album, and “American Beauty” were being made at Wally Heider’s at the same time, so as Kantner said, “We would just wander into each other's studios, listen for a while, and say, 'I could add something to that.’” [3] (Note that it was Garcia who contributed to the others’ albums, not the other way around – perhaps because the Dead’s music was more simple and insular at that point.)
Kantner recalled, “Jerry was doing a lot of pedal steel for people around that time, experimenting, and so we let him be on it; he was overjoyed. So he went in and just experimented with sounds, seeing what kind of sounds he could get out of it, running it through various pedals and echoes and delays. We gave him a free hand, which made him happy. Before that he’d pretty much just been doing country licks on the steel, and this gave him the opportunity to get a little weirder, which he always appreciated.” [4]
Garcia spent a lot of time at the PERRO sessions at Wally Heider’s, most of which wasn’t released, but fed into later Crosby or Kantner albums. (For instance, ‘Mountain Song,’ which Garcia co-wrote and originally sang, was released in a later Kantner recording in 1983.)

Howard Wales’ “Hooteroll” album would not have been recorded without Garcia. In fact, it’s hard to say when or if Wales would ever have pursued a solo recording career, without Garcia’s initial support – Wales would only release one more album in the ‘70s, preferring to stay in the shadows. Garcia would later say of his one east-coast tour with Wales supporting the album in January ’72, “I didn’t really go on the road that time to play. The thing was really misrepresented. I just wanted to get Howard out playing, and the band had a really nice thing going which really didn’t have much to do with me. I was just there fucking around.” [5]

Merl Saunders’ early albums, “Heavy Turbulence” and “Fire Up,” would have been quite different without Garcia’s involvement. Saunders recalled, “I had an album to do over at Fantasy Records. I said to Jerry, ‘You helped me develop these tunes, you might as well come and do them.’” [6]
Not only was the material much of the same stuff they were performing live, Garcia also gave Saunders some needed moral support when making the albums. As Saunders said, “Jerry always encouraged me to write material for the group. [The record label] Fantasy was saying stuff like, 'The music is great, but these words about ecology and whatnot, you gotta tone 'em down.' I said, 'I like the words.' And Jerry's attitude was, 'Yeah, fuck 'em! Do what you want, Merl!' He was really my inspiration to do things the way I wanted to do them. I would maybe be leaning toward giving in to the record company and he'd say, 'Merl, you wrote these songs from the heart, so fuck 'em. It's your music, man. Put it out the way you want to.' And I needed to hear that.” [7]
As well, Saunders said, “He also got me singing. We’d come off a tour and he’d say, ‘Man, you gotta help me out singing.’ I didn’t think I could sing, but I figured if Jerry could sing, I could sing. He’d say, ‘You hear how bad I can sound; you don’t sound any worse than I do.’ I said, ‘I guess I don’t.’ We used to laugh about it, but that’s how I started singing.” [8]
The Garcia/Saunders band also played on Tom Fogerty’s second solo album “Excalibur” in 1972. (At the time, Fogerty was more or less a member of the band.)
Much later, Garcia also helped Saunders record his “Blues From the Rainforest” album in 1989.

Old And In The Way, technically speaking, probably does not belong in this post. Garcia started the band informally as a way to play bluegrass in public with some friends – David Grisman recalled, “We just got together one time in Jerry’s living room and started playing bluegrass and Jerry said, ‘Wow, we ought to go play some gigs.’ Me and Pete [Rowan] probably needed the bread.” [9]
It was a blip in the careers of Garcia, Grisman, Rowan, and Clements. Nonetheless, their album became a bestseller and extremely influential in the bluegrass field, exposing many new listeners to the music. (It’s even arguable that Garcia is a more important figure within country and bluegrass music than in rock music.)
Garcia was asked in 1991, “Is Old & In The Way still the biggest-selling bluegrass album?”
“That’s what I’ve heard. I don’t know where those statistics come from, but I think that’s tremendously flattering if it is. Although kind of unfortunate. I mean, what about those guys who spent their lives playing this music? They were certainly great at it.” [10]

The Round Records label would not have existed without Garcia. While a couple of the Round albums would no doubt have been made on other labels, it is pretty safe to say that without Garcia steering the label, there would have been no Keith & Donna album, no Seastones album, and no Diga Rhythm Band album – all of which he played on and helped produce. (Garcia was frequently involved with Mickey Hart’s solo efforts through the early ‘70s, as you might expect, but I think that’s a subject that falls outside this post.)
Robert Hunter would also most likely not have recorded his first two albums, “Tales of the Great Rum Runners” and “Tiger Rose,” which Garcia produced.
These are familiar Dead-related names, but in Round Records’ brief history, Garcia also got a chance to step into the bluegrass field, with the Good Old Boys’ “Pistol Packin’ Mama” album. Garcia gathered together a group of some of his favorite bluegrass musicians to make the record, which he produced. Unfortunately, given the troubles of Round Records, it quickly went out print and sank into oblivion. If the label had continued, though, it’s possible Garcia would have continued to do sessions like this for other musicians he liked.
It’s also worth mentioning that Garcia had a direct financial stake in these albums – when they failed, he lost money. Round Records was basically formed to protect the rest of the Grateful Dead, as a home for “financially dubious solo projects,” and Garcia and Ron Rakow were the sole owners (and apparently sole overseers) of the label. As the JGMF blog notes, “It really speaks to how committed Jerry was to the other GD members, the Family, etc. He was not only subsidizing their solo projects (did anyone really think that Diga or Seastones or Keith and Donna would sell?), but also taking on disproportionate risk… Jerry was pretty much carrying everyone and everything.” [11]
[These posts also provide more detail on Round Records and the various album projects:]

Sometimes Garcia also helped out on other musicians’ projects that fizzled out.
Garcia & Grisman played on a demo session for a prospective Peter Rowan solo album, but the album was never made and the tracks weren’t released til 1980.
Garcia had played on studio sessions with the Rowan Brothers back in 1971 or so – he was excited enough about that band to rave about them in a Rolling Stone interview, which backfired when his comment that “they could be like the Beatles” was used to promote their album, creating many disappointed listeners. (Audiences were also unimpressed when they opened for the Dead.)

One session Garcia did that wasn’t heard for many years was with Bill Cutler in 1975 – which wasn’t released until 2008. Cutler had encountered Garcia at Matt Kelly’s studio sessions: “In the course of seeing him around, he heard a bunch of my songs and said, ‘If you ever make an album of your stuff, I’d be happy to help out.’ Which was a pretty exciting offer, of course! In fact, I’m not sure I even believed it at first… Jerry heard that I was going in to record and told me he wanted to play on the tracks. Because the Dead weren’t touring then, he actually had some time and he came by, rehearsed a little with us, and we recorded about half an album with him. He seemed really comfortable in the group… The plan was to cut a bunch more tracks at some point, but what happened is the Grateful Dead went back out onto the road and then they got so busy that there was just never an opportunity to do more, so I literally put the tapes in a closet and they sat there for many, many years.” In 1993 Cutler bumped into Garcia again: “He asked me about what had happened to the tracks we’d recorded at Heider’s all those years ago. He said, ‘We should finish that album!’” [12]
There may be more ‘lost’ sessions with other musicians we don’t know about if they haven’t been released

Garcia also encouraged and frequently participated in Ned Lagin’s music. Aside from Lagin’s appearances at Dead shows, Garcia also went out to play with Lagin at a couple “Seastones” shows (most notably 6/6/75), though they parted ways after that. In this case, Phil Lesh participated more than Garcia in what there was of Lagin’s solo career. Lesh said in 1980: “Ned went his own way after that, although we still communicate… We essentially did a benefit for him and got him a computer and a synthesizer.” [13]

Garcia also made a dramatic reentry into David Grisman’s music in the 1990s. Grisman reconnected with Garcia after years of not talking, and in 1990 Garcia ensured that Grisman received a Rex Foundation cash grant (which would help fund releases on Grisman’s label Acoustic Disc). Grisman recalled, “Later I found out that Jerry was responsible and I called him to thank him… Jerry came over to my house one day, checked out my home studio and asked me, ‘How about putting out some more Old and in the Way tapes?’ I said, ‘Frankly, Jerry, I’d rather see us put out something new. We can put out the old tapes when we’re in wheelchairs.’” (Garcia would idly muse about getting Old & In The Way back together, but it never happened.)
Garcia returned to Grisman’s house with an acoustic guitar: “He just walked right in and said, ‘We should make a record and that would give us a reason to play.’ …When I told him about my small record company [Acoustic Disc], he said, ‘Great, so we can do it for you.’ When I asked, ‘When do you want to start?’ he said, ‘Now!’” [14]
Per, “The Garcia and Grisman partnership also gave Grisman the finances needed to continue his Acoustic Disc record label. As Grisman noted in another interview, ‘Jerry kind of takes care of the profitable part.’”

In a smaller role, Garcia played pedal steel for various artists in numerous studio sessions from ’69 to ’73. This isn’t the place to list them (see ) but it’s notable that pretty much all these sessions were for musicians who were his friends & acquaintances. (That is, he wasn’t an in-demand session man for those outside his circle.) His contributions are generally limited to one or two songs, so he clearly wasn’t heavily involved in the recording process, just being called in for a solo or two. Sometimes his parts weren’t even released, so his role on some albums is unknown. Frequently he was an anonymous player, not listed in the credits. (For instance, Steve Stills omitted Garcia’s name on his albums. Also, on Lamb’s 1971 album “Cross Between,” he played on some tracks but wasn’t credited – instead there was a note on the back cover: “Special thanks to Jerry Garcia.”)

It’s also notable that the most famous notes he ever played were from one of his first guest sessions, CSNY’s ‘Teach Your Children.’ As such a well-known song, and one of the most recognized pedal-steel tracks ever, it can start bitter quarrels about Garcia on pedal-steel forums to this day. (“Mediocre” is the general opinion.)
John Dawson remembered that Crosby and Nash “came up and sang Jerry and me 'Teach Your Children,' and they asked if he'd play pedal steel on it. They were at Wally Heider's in San Francisco working on their second album, and so Jerry said, 'Sure, man, yeah. Absolutely.' So we went over there…and we went into Studio D, at the back end of the hallway. They set Garcia up in the studio, played him the tape two or three times, and then Crosby said, 'OK, let's roll some tape.' So they did a take, and then another, and then Garcia said, 'Let's roll it again,' and Crosby said, 'Nuh-uh. That's it. That's perfect. Get out of here.'” Garcia’s part was done in two takes. [15]
Garcia later said, “Nice tune. Nice note. I got one good note in on that tune! One good note makes it worthwhile! [Laughter]” But he added, “I really think the nicest thing I did during that period was on Crosby’s solo album… I particularly like the pedal steel on ‘Laughing.’ That was some of the prettiest and most successful of what I was trying to get at at that time.” [16]

Garcia was asked in 1983 about creating a definitive Garcia discography. “I’ve done so many sessions, I don’t keep track…I just don’t think of it in [completist] terms, because during the period of time when I was doing lots and lots of recording sessions, from about ’69 to ’73 or ’74, right around there, I did a lot of sessions, and the reason I did them was because I wanted to get more studio experience in, and because I liked the problem-solving mentality that you get into. People would call me in because they wanted what I could contribute to the session. That was my function. That was the reason I was there. And that was the way I perceived the work I was doing. In those moments I’m interested mostly in the music, not in myself. I don’t do those things for my own career! I do them for the music at hand and because at the time I really enjoyed doing sessions… There were so many things. We all got involved in all kinds of little side projects and odd little one-shot things… There have been some things I played on where I’m not credited at all… Some of those I just don’t remember. Sometimes they were very weird experiences, like, for those I didn’t know what records they were for or anything.” [17]

After the Round Records era, Garcia stopped playing on other people’s sessions for a long time. From 1987-1995 he would do occasional guest appearances again, mostly on the albums of friends or musicians he liked. I don’t have much to say about these (they could be a post of their own), but they show that even when the demands on his time were most intense, he would still go out of his way to spend time playing for the musicians in his circle, adapting himself to what they wanted on their tracks.

There is also a parallel in his jamming habits. While he was insatiable for opportunities to play with others, he would not always take the lead, but was just as happy to stay back and support others in the jam, sticking to rhythm backing and letting them direct the music. Garcia would sometimes say that he was happiest being a sideman – for instance, in bluegrass music: “I don’t really want to front a band. I would rather play in a bluegrass band as a banjo player, like in Old & In The Way, and let somebody else front it… I don’t think of myself as a lead singer. Gimme a couple tunes in a set, and I’m perfectly happy. And I love singing parts… I think of myself as an accompanist. That’s my field.” [18]
This could be another topic of its own.

There are many stories of Garcia encouraging other musicians:
Martin Fierro recalled, “Jerry encouraged me to bring in new tunes. Oh, man we were playing all sorts of stuff…He was always up for anything. I asked him one time, ‘Do you mind if I play to my heart’s content?’ and he said, ‘No, man, I want you to. It makes me play better when you give your all, Martin.’ You play with some guys and they don’t want you to play a lot and you can’t really express yourself, but it was never that way with Jerry. We were all on the same page and we were all equals.” [19]

Peter Rowan recalled, “Jerry had this quality of reciprocal enthusiasm and the ability to give off a kind of light. If you tickled his fancy, he would just come forth with so much loving energy that everyone would do better. When you played with Garcia, he could make you rise up to your full capacity. He could make you do that and I think it was reciprocal… I never experienced any ego when he played. He was against any discursive criticism of the moment. He could make every player feel that whatever part they had to contribute was part of the overall experience. He was generous.” [20]

Michael Lydon, who was then a Rolling Stone reporter hoping to become a musician, spoke to Garcia in 1969: “When I confessed to him my own musical hopes, his instant, smiling response was, ‘Yeah, man, do it! Whatever I am doing, you can do it too!’” [21]

Garcia’s support of others wasn’t just outside the Dead, though. Though he was reluctant to act as the “leader,” a lot of things that happened in the band were the result of his decisions. In particular, he frequently encouraged the other members to step up more and sing their own songs – whether it be Pigpen, Brent, Weir, or Donna. He was eager for the others to take on a bigger role in contributing material, and seems to have been supportive of whatever was brought in.
For instance, in 1974 he was already complaining, “To me, just because of default, I've fallen into the role of being the main writer in the band. And I'm not really a writer, I'm not really a composer… But these are roles, and since the band has needed them I've fallen into them, just like we all have. But it's been on me to be the guy who's developing the material. And frankly, I'm tired of my own writing, I'm bored with it. Since it's sort of an artificial situation, I'm not an inspired writer. It represents work.” [22]
This was an ominous foretelling of Garcia’s future decline as a songwriter. By the ‘80s Brent Mydland would be writing more songs for the Dead than Garcia was, to Garcia’s steady approval. Blair Jackson writes that “Garcia liked Brent and his songs, and went out of his way to encourage him to write more.” Garcia said after the “Built to Last” album, “It was Brent that had the good songs – I mean, more of ‘em… It’s nice to be able to show off what he can do on a lot of different levels. And his contribution to this record is really outstanding all over. Not just his tunes and vocals, but everything else – all the keyboard parts and just ideas and general stuff.” [23]

If Garcia hadn’t asked Robert Hunter to write songs for the Dead, it seems unlikely that Hunter would have become a songwriter: “I had written lyrics on and off since I was 17, but I fancied myself a serious writer, and rock & roll wasn’t exactly what I had planned for myself.” [24] “Without the GD I’d be just another guy who didn’t get a chance to develop what talent he had.” [25]

And of course, we would probably never have heard of Phil Lesh if Garcia hadn’t asked him to play bass for the band: “I know you’re a musician – you can pick up this instrument so easy.”
Lesh later mused, “If I had never taken this road, who knows what I’d be doing? It’s so impossible to even consider it… I don’t know. I probably would have left music forever. I already had.” [26] 


2. Voyage box set liner notes
3. ibid. 
4. Jackson, Garcia p. 185
5. Jackson, Garcia p. 228
6. Greenfield, Dark Star p. 138
8. Troy, Captain Trips p. 160
9. Greenfield, Dark Star p. 152
10. Jones & Pickard, “Crazy Fingers: Jerry Garcia & The Banjo,” Relix 19, 1992
13. “Phil Lesh: Reddy Killowatt Speaks,” Comstock Lode 9
14. Jackson, Garcia p. 400
16. Hunt, “Jerry Garcia: Folk, Bluegrass & Beyond” pt II, Swing 51 #7, 1983
17. ibid.
18. Jones & Pickard, “Crazy Fingers: Jerry Garcia & The Banjo,” Relix 19, 1992
20. Greenfield, Dark Star p. 154
21. Lydon, Flashbacks p. 96
23. Jackson, Garcia p. 383
24. Gans, Conversations with the Dead p. 23
26. Gans, Conversations p. 201

January 31, 2014

The Europe '72 Overdubs (Guest Post)

Europe ‘72
Notes on Song Selections and Overdubs for the Original Album and Volume 2
By Steven Seachrist 

The final show of the 1972 tour of Europe tour took place on May 26 in London. Then the band, their crew and families headed back to the New World, armed with a huge stash of two inch wide, sixteen-track audio tape containing nearly every note played on the tour. This is saying a lot: there were about 2000 pounds of tapes, or as recording engineer Bob Matthews estimated, 17 miles of tape to listen to. Plenty of previous Grateful Dead shows had been taped in multi-track, but never on this scale. Twenty-two complete shows now rested comfortably in the vault back in California, and a live album was planned. It was originally called Steppin’ Out.

The idea was to present songs that either were completely new, or ones that had not been previously released in live form. This philosophy continued with Steal Your Face, the live album recorded in 1974, and even with Reckoning and Dead Set, the next contemporaneous live albums, recorded in 1980. The idea of repeating live song versions must have seemed ill advised at the time.

As they had with the 1971 live album Grateful Dead (commonly referred to as Skull and Roses), the band decided on some studio doctoring of the tapes. Today, this seems almost sacrilege, as we accept the raw edges of live Grateful Dead recordings just as we would at a concert. But back in 1972, the band and/or their record label wanted to present polished excerpts from the tour. They even edited out almost all of the stage banter and crowd reactions at the tops and tails of songs, making the Europe ’72 album sound even more like a live/studio hybrid.

In all, seventeen songs made the final album cut, if you count the transitional jams “Prelude” and “Epilogue” as songs. Others were considered and even overdubbed back home, but were later dropped. There are some clues as to which songs and versions almost made the cut.

In 2011, Rhino released a box set of the entire tour called Europe ’72: The Complete Recordings. No information was provided regarding which live tracks were supplanted by overdubs performed in the studio after the tour. Sometimes Jeff Norman, the audio engineer, used the studio-dubbed vocals; in other cases he recovered the original live vocals. Some of the differences are obvious, some are only apparent when comparing to circulating tapes, and others can’t reliably be sussed out. Unless Norman wants to tell what he knows, we may never be able to untangle all of the details, and I suspect he has been sworn to secrecy.

About the same time the big box hit the streets, Rhino also issued a 2-CD compilation product titled Europe ’72, Volume 2 that attempted to represent a sequel to the original album. This effort is very well thought out, and contains excellent versions of songs not present on Europe ’72. They did break the rule of “no songs previously released on earlier-recorded live albums,” but at this point no one cares about that. It’s a great listen and it really does seem like an extension of the original album.

The box set mix was used for all songs on Volume 2. No performances from earlier archival releases (Hundred Year Hall, Rockin’ the Rhein, Steppin’ Out and the 2001 remaster of Europe ’72 with bonus tracks) were used on Volume 2.

Since there is little information on exactly what overdubs were done for the Europe ’72 album, and which of them were kept on the box set, a post gathering all the known details has been needed. Here is a breakdown of what we can tell about the origins of the recordings, given the available clues. A single asterisk * indicates the version was used on the original album released in 1972, and a double asterisk ** indicates the version was used on Europe ’72, Volume 2, the compilation released in 2011. The reason I am including this later release is that some overdub work was done on at least one song that did not make the original cut.

Vocal Overdubs

April 7, 1972

Me and My Uncle ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

Not Fade Away ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

Not Fade Away (Reprise) ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

April 8, 1972

Cumberland Blues * It seems the vocals were overdubbed on this, as they are significantly more polished than other live versions from the tour. The overdubbed vocals are apparently used on the box set mix. (The original vocals have never circulated on tape; and though David Lemieux has said that they weren’t erased, they were not used for the box set.)

April 14, 1972

Bertha ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

Black Throated Wind ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

Chinatown Shuffle ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

Loser ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

Brown-Eyed Women * This lead vocal was definitely overdubbed, as a different vocal appears on the box set mix.

April 26, 1972

Dire Wolf ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

Good Lovin’ ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

May 3, 1972

Sugaree ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

China Cat Sunflower * This lead vocal was definitely overdubbed, as a different vocal appears on the box set mix.

I Know You Rider * The harmonies here are tighter than other versions on the tour, and it follows that these were probably overdubbed. The doctored vocals appear on the box set mix. The only vocals here that don’t have harmonies are on the “train” verse, and Garcia sings that in a voice that could either be live or not, no telling. The guitar playing on this song is so perfect that I would not be surprised if it had studio help, but again there is no way to know unless a live-to-two-track version exists somewhere.
Jeff Norman has said that he kept Garcia’s original “China Cat” vocal on the box set. Although Garcia’s original vocal for “Rider” was also still on tape, Norman used the overdub on that song because of the different harmony phrasing. (The original harmony vocals were most likely erased, while Garcia put his own vocal on a new track.)

Tennessee Jed * This lead vocal was definitely overdubbed, as a different vocal appears on the box set mix.

Greatest Story Ever Told ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

Jack Straw * This is one of the more interesting vocal overdubs. From its inception until the performance on 5/10/72, all of the verses in “Jack Straw” were sung by Bob Weir. On that date and forevermore after that, Weir and Garcia traded verses in call-and-response fashion. But this version from 5/3/72 has the two singers trading off, so they were obviously overdubbed. Listen very carefully, and I think you will hear the “ghost” (reflections and bleed) of Weir’s voice during Garcia’s verses. This is not obvious on the original album but can be heard on the newer mix. The original live tape of this song has never circulated.
Jeff Norman has said that Weir’s guitar part was also replaced for the album; his new guitar track was put on Pigpen’s empty vocal track. (Norman also mentioned that you can hear Weir’s vocal bleedthrough when Garcia sings.)

May 4, 1972

Deal ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

Next Time You See Me ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

Sugar Magnolia * It sounds like there is some doubling of Weir’s vocal (either deliberately or as a remnant of the original vocal bleeding into other mics) and the harmony vocals are almost certainly overdubbed. Donna appears in the coda on this version and was likely overdubbed since this is an anomaly not found on the other live versions from the tour. The overdubbed vocals were used on the box set mix. The original live tape of this song has never circulated.
On the album the Dead included the last ten seconds of “Dark Star” at the start of the song.

May 7, 1972

Dark Star ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

Drums ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

The Other One ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs. It is of interest to note that while this version did transition to “Sing Me Back Home”, a different version of that song was used on Europe ’72, Volume 2. This is probably because the 5/26/72 version was pulled for possible inclusion on the original album and overdubs were made to it, and the producers decided it was the better of the two versions.

May 10, 1972

He’s Gone * Hearing the 2011 box set mix, it becomes glaringly obvious that the original album version was sped-up and thus pitched about a half-step sharp. The newer mix rectifies this. All the vocals were overdubbed for the album, and the studio vocals were also used on the box set. (Typically, Norman would have used the live vocal if it was salvageable, but here it is likely the overdubbed vocals were recorded over the live vocal tracks. Lemieux has confirmed that the live vocals on the multitrack were erased. The original performance circulates on tape, though.) The backing vocals – not present on this version when it was played live – are included on the box set mix, which is similar to what was done with “Sugar Magnolia” and its coda. In the original live performance, the Dead instrumentally fade out at the end.
Keith’s piano in this song is entirely overdubbed on the album, adding a lot of embellishments. The Dead changed this song the most in the studio, probably because it was the newest song and the early live versions sounded rather primitive.
Blair Jackson wrote in the CD liner notes: “The vocal coda on “He’s Gone” – “Oo-oo-oo, nothin’s gonna bring him back” – was not from the 5/10/72 Amsterdam show that the album version was purportedly drawn from; indeed the coda did not appear on any of the six versions of the song played in Europe. Rather, it was introduced July 16, 1972, at Dillon Stadium in Hartford, Connecticut… But the vocals on the “live” album were added in the studio when Matthews mixed the tapes, long after the Europe tour.” (Blair may not have known when writing this that it would be the overdubbed mix that appeared on the box set. Technically, Norman did not even need to include the studio vocal coda, since it was simply sung over the original instrumental ending.)

May 16, 1972

Beat it on Down the Line ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

May 23, 1972

Mr. Charlie * This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

May 24, 1972

You Win Again * This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs. A lot of reverb was added to the vocal, though, which is true of many of the vocals on the album.

It Hurts Me Too * Keith's piano was definitely overdubbed on the album. His part is much fancier than what he played live. The original live piano was included on the box set mix. The rest of the performance is apparently undubbed.

Playing in the Band ** This is apparently completely live, with no overdubs.

May 26, 1972

Truckin’ * Most of the vocals seem to be live, as very little difference can be heard from the original vocals. However, there are some slight changes – for instance, the “sometimes the light’s all shining on me” bridge at 4:15 is sung more smoothly on the album – so evidently some or all of the vocals were redone. After 5:00, Weir & Garcia’s “get back truckin’ on” vocals were overdubbed on the album, and this new vocal coda was also used on the box set. The original performance had different, shorter ending vocals. (As an aside, this “Truckin’” is rare for the time in not returning to a vocal reprise.)

Epilogue * This is the jam out of “Truckin’” and is apparently completely live. The album track ends at 5:00 with a studio-added reverb effect in Phil’s little solo, just before he starts playing chords in the live performance, snipping out “The Other One.”

Prelude * This is the jam into “Morning Dew” and is apparently completely live.

Morning Dew * The lead vocal was overdubbed for the first two verses, as Garcia sounds hoarse on the box set mix, and not on the album. The live vocal for the rest of the song was left as is. On the album, the end of the song cuts just before the return to “The Other One.”

Sing Me Back Home ** The lead vocal was certainly overdubbed, as there are audible reflections of the original vocal on the box set mix. Also, Donna’s final gospel vocal yell (“come alive”) is only heard as a reflection, unfortunately. My theory is that her original vocal track was overdubbed upon and thus erased, and she did not sing this part during the overdub session. The circulating tape of this show has the original vocals, which are quite different.

Ramble On Rose * This lead vocal was definitely overdubbed, as a different vocal appears on the box set mix. Keith's piano was also overdubbed on the album, and the piano overdub is on the box set mix.

One More Saturday Night * Though it’s almost impossible to tell, Weir redid at least some of his lead vocal – the chorus from 2:20-2:30 is slightly different on the album compared to the box set mix – but in general the vocal inflections are so identical it’s hard to spot any difference, and harder to tell why he took the trouble. Backing vocals were clearly overdubbed at the end, since these were not on the live tape. Pigpen’s organ was omitted from the album, and Keith's piano was overdubbed. The piano overdub is on the box set mix.

Organ Overdubs

There are no organ overdubs on the album.

Although Merl Saunders isn't on the Europe ‘72 credits, a few sources still indicate he was part of the overdubs: McNally's book briefly mentions it, the discography also lists him on the album, and Merl himself said in an interview, “I played on four or five tracks of Europe ’72.”

But evidently, they were mistaking this album for the Skull and Roses album in 1971, where Saunders did do organ overdubs on several songs. After reviewing all original E72 album mixes, the newer box set mixes of the same takes, and the circulating tapes (plus other takes of the same songs), I see no reason to believe Merl Saunders overdubbed any organ at all.

Pigpen played fine organ parts on the whole tour. He was not flashy, but he was quite reliable and not at all intrusive. There is considerably less organ used in the 1972 album mix than was actually played at the shows. (For instance, the organ was mixed low on “Truckin’,” minimized on “Ramble On Rose,” and omitted on “One More Saturday Night” and “Tennessee Jed.”) In contrast, the 2011 box set keeps the Hammond simmering, presumably any time Pigpen had his hands on it and the volume pedal pushed down. These newer mixes are good in that way. (Often, the piano gets buried, but that is another story for another day.)

There are no Saunders overdubs anywhere to be found. On every song on the original album where some organ is audible, the organ parts on the album are identical to what Pigpen played live, and very similar parts are played by Pigpen on other versions during the tour. There are certainly songs where his organ parts were minimized or completely muted for the original album mixes, but none where a new organ part appears. So the sources stating Merl Saunders was on the Europe ’72 album are clearly wrong! I think it is possible that Saunders simply mis-spoke and was instead remembering his contributions to Skull and Roses.

As far as the other instruments, Keith overdubbed piano on at least several songs - "He's Gone," "It Hurts Me Too," "Ramble On Rose," and "One More Saturday Night." "It Hurts Me Too" is the only one of these where the original live piano was used on the box set mix, which indicates that Keith's live track was usually erased by the overdub. On some performances (mostly the Paris shows) it isn't possible to check since we don't have the undubbed live tapes.

I did not detect any guitar overdubs, but there may be some.

The Sub Reels

The Dead considered more songs for the original album than could be included, along with many candidates for the best performance of each song. One step in the preparation of the album was to select the best tracks from the shows and put them onto sub-reels for final consideration.
David Lemieux explained in one interview: “A lot of the songs were physically cut out from the master reels and put onto another reel for consideration for Europe ’72… They listened to the whole tour, pulled out the best four versions of each song by physically cutting them from the master and putting them on another tape. That was the sub reel of the versions that were being considered for Europe ’72.”
This meant that for the box set, many shows had to be reassembled from the various reels as the songs were put back in their original place.

Lemieux spoke to Blair Jackson about some of the selections on Volume 2: “We ended up including several songs that the band had pulled from the master reels for the original Europe ’72 but which, for whatever reason, didn’t make the cut. That was really the impetus to get this thing rolling—that there was a lot of stuff on the cutting room floor that the band had slated for the original album at some point. Off the top of my head, I can give you three: “Beat It on Down the Line” from Luxembourg [5/16], “Next Time You See Me” from Paris [5/4], and “Sing Me Back Home” from 5/26 [Lyceum]… My guess is that when they made the original album, the big ballad was going to be either the “Morning Dew” or this “Sing Me Back Home.””
As we saw, “Sing Me Back Home” did receive complete vocal redubs for the album before it was put aside. Since the dubbed version was used on the box set, the original vocals may have been erased on the multitrack.

“Two Souls in Communion” from Frankfurt 4/26 had also been selected for possible inclusion on the original album, but ended up as a bonus track on the 2001 CD reissue. Lemieux said: “That song was actually slated for inclusion on Europe ’72. The reason we know that is because everything that was originally going to be included on the album was put onto these sub-reels. That didn’t make it, and Beat It on Down the Line, of all things. Those two songs were going to be included but didn’t make it. On some of the tape boxes it’s called Pig’s Tune and on the rest of them it’s called The Stranger.”

We see from the tape box images in the hardbound box set book that certain songs were taken from the master reels and spliced to at least nine sub-reels for consideration for inclusion on the album. These include the following:

Mr. Charlie (4/29) – This version was not used. The version from 5/23 was.

China > Rider (4/29) – This version was not used. The version from 5/3 was.

China > Rider (5/3) – This is the version used on the album.

Beat It on Down the Line (5/3) – This version was not used on Volume 2. The version from 5/16 was.

Tennessee Jed (5/3) – This is the version used on the album.

It Hurts Me Too (5/3) – This version was not used. The version from 5/24 was.

Truckin’ (5/3) – This version was not used. The version from 5/26 was.

Jack Straw (5/3) – This is the version used on the album.

Ramble on Rose (5/10) – This version was not used. The version from 5/26 was. There is also a note on this tape box of the second set saying, “This is dynamite,” apparently meaning the whole reel or whole set.

Chinatown Shuffle (5/26) - This version was not used on Volume 2. The version from 4/14 was.

China > Rider (5/26) – This version was not used. The version from 5/3 was.

Sing Me Back Home (5/26) – This version was used on Volume 2. This tape box has a note saying, “We’re all really stoned now.”

One More Saturday Night (5/26) – This is the version used on the album. A note on this tape box says, “The Last God Dawg Gig.”

Unfortunately, we don’t get to see all of the tape boxes. More clues would reside there. The 4/24 tape boxes, seen in the Rockin’ the Rhein release, appear to have no songs selected.

(As an aside, several of the newer songs apparently did not yet have their titles finalized during the tour. The titles used on the tape boxes are “Don’t Expect No Help At All,” “Chuba Chuba,” “He’s Long Gone,” and “Strangers.”) 

Several songs are missing from the circulating tapes of the shows, evidently because they were spliced out of the master reels to put on the sub-reels. These include:

4/8/72 Cumberland Blues
5/3/72 China>Rider, Tennessee Jed, Jack Straw
5/4/72 Sugar Magnolia

On the circulating tapes, these songs are patched from the Europe ’72 album. As a result, we do not have the original live performances to compare to the overdubbed mixes. They may well still exist on two-track copies in the Vault, though. Multiple copies of these shows were made at the time; as Betty Cantor said in an interview with John Dwork, “In Europe I was doing the 16-track and simultaneously running a two-track of my monitor mix. I made cassettes at the same time.” (Deadhead’s Taping Compendium vol. II, p.17)

The Overdub Process

In an interview with Blair Jackson, Bob Matthews explained the decision to redo the vocals on the Europe ’72 live tracks: “The band was almost never happy with their vocals on live recordings. We had overdubbed vocals on ‘Skull and Roses,’ too, but the band was very unhappy about the fact that it sounded like it had been overdubbed. Actually there were some discussions about whether we were even going to do Europe ’72, because of vocal issues, so that’s when I came up with the idea of trying to make [them] sound more live.”
Jackson wrote, “They recreated the positions of [the speakers] with loudspeakers in the big room at Alembic [Studios], set up the singers and their monitors in the same positions they had been onstage, and then played back the instrumental tracks to approximate the actual live performance, as the singers laid down new vocals.”
Matthews said, “Everybody seemed to like that fine. The band wanted the albums to sound as good as they could make them. They weren’t purists at all.” (Grateful Dead Gear, p.119)

These were the track assignments on the Europe ’72 16-tracks:
1. Bass Drum
2. Floor Tom
3. Snare
4. Overhead
5. Hi hat
6. Bass
7. Bass
8. Lead guitar
9. Rhythm guitar
10. Jerry vocal
11. Bob vocal
12. Phil vocal
13. Pig Pen vocal
14. Organ
15. Piano
16. Aud/Sync

There were not many tracks left over if the band decided to overdub vocals in a song. Usually, Pigpen’s vocal track would be empty, and sometimes his organ track, and the band seem to have used those tracks sometimes. But quite often, we see that the original vocal tracks were wiped when recording the new vocals. (On some songs, though, if you listen carefully, you can hear the room echo of the original live vocals under the studio vocals.) The audience track was probably not used for dubs, though it was mixed so low on the album that any audience presence or original room sound is barely detectable. (Plenty of reverb was added to the vocals, though.)

Some live vocals on the multitracks were lost due to the Dead’s method of snipping out the selected tracks from the master tape and recording directly onto them. The original performances survived on Betty Cantor’s two-track tapes, though, many of which leaked out into circulation. These are all apparently still in the Vault. Lemieux said in one interview, “Fortunately, they were running two-track of virtually all the shows to cover any cuts on the multi-track. They were only running one multi-track machine, so if the multi-track did cut in the middle of the song, there was about 20-30 seconds missing of that song, but we do have the two-track recordings that were made simultaneously [so] that we can fix it. We’ve had to do that a couple of times, not too often.” 
Most shows were intact, and some had no songs cut on the multitracks. The Dead were using extra-long 14-inch reels on the tour in order to minimize tapeflips, and the Alembic crew was usually adept at flipping between songs; so hardly any cuts are seen on the available tape boxes. (“Big Boss Man” on 4/7 is one example of a song partly lost because there was no two-track running for that show. This may also be one reason that show never made it into circulation.) The two-tracks were certainly never used for the original album; it is not clear just where two-track tapes were used to patch flips on the box set.

There are just a few cases where tracks are circulating that are missing from the box set: “Casey Jones” at the end of the 4/7 first set, the 4/21 soundcheck of “Loser” and “Black Throated Wind,” and the 5/11 encore of “One More Saturday Night.” (On the other hand, the box set turned up a previously unknown soundcheck on 5/16 of a rare “Big River” and “Sugar Magnolia.”)

Speed Changes

Many of the songs on the album were sped up to varying degrees, and thus are pitched sharp. The box set mixes are pitched correctly. Comparing the song timings allows us to see exactly how much the speed varies from track to track on the album. (Speed changes of more than 1% are noted.)

                               Box Set / Album
Cumberland Blues      5:47 / 5:39  [2.4% fast]
He’s Gone                    6:31 / 6:20  [2.9% fast] *
Saturday Night           4:45 / 4:44
Jack Straw                  4:47 / 4:46
You Win Again           3:53 / 3:53
China > Rider           10:38 / 10:31  [1.1% fast] **
Brown Eyed Women 4:43 / 4:36  [2.5% fast]
Hurts Me Too             7:16 / 7:16
Ramble On Rose        6:07 / 5:59  [2.3% fast]
Sugar Magnolia          7:01 / 6:58
Mr Charlie                   3:39 / 3:36  [1.4% fast]
Tennessee Jed             7:09 / 7:08
Truckin’                       5:06 / 5:01  [1.7% fast] ***
Morning Dew            11:50 / 11:19  [4.5% fast]

* The timing is to the last vocal “he’s gone.” For the full performance, the box set lasts 7:09 and the album 6:54, showing a speed change of 3.6%. (This wider discrepancy in timing is because the box set mix includes a bit more of the performance at the end than the album track, which fades earlier.)
** China > Rider – individual times: box set 5:36+5:02, album 5:32+4:59
*** This timing goes to the last sung line of “get back truckin’ on.” The full timing:
Truckin’ > Epilogue – box set 17:58, album 17:42 [1.5% fast]

Timings are for the song itself, not the length of the CD track, since the album and box set are tracked differently. Some of these timings may be off by a second or so, so the speed percentages may not be exactly precise, but the pattern is clear. Many of the tracks are unchanged, others are sped up almost to chipmunk-vocal levels. The reasons are unknown.


The vast majority of obvious overdubs are found on Jerry Garcia’s lead vocal tracks. Maybe he felt more critical of his performances, or maybe they actually needed the most help because of missed lyrics or other phrasing stumbles. It’s true that his overdubs generally resulted in stronger lead vocals than his live takes. Songs with big vocal harmonies also received bolstering in the studio. Keith also replaced his piano part in several songs with more lively, embellished playing. These live tracks are typically pretty good throughout the tour, but I suppose the temptation to sweeten them was irresistible. On the other end of the scale, Pigpen’s vocals sound entirely live; Lemieux has said that no Pigpen vocals were overdubbed. Of course, he typically delivered very confident lead vocals, even if his pitch was not always spot on. There may also be other reasons why Pigpen was apparently not involved with studio overdubs at all.

Jeff Norman has said that he used the original vocals on the box set where they had not been obliterated on tape by overdubs, and there is no reason to doubt this. However, he did use overdubs on backing vocals where none were sung live, for example on the end of “He’s Gone” and “Sugar Magnolia.” Norman spoke a little about his mixing to David Gans during the box set project: “Wherever there’s an original vocal remaining, I’ll use it.”

Let’s not forget that big chunks of this tour previously appeared on the archival releases Hundred Year Hall (released in 1995), Steppin’ Out (a compilation of songs recorded on this tour in England, released in 2002), and Rockin’ the Rhein (released in 2004). Also, the box set The Golden Road (released in 2001) and the later individual re-issue of Europe ’72 contained bonus tracks from the tour. Astute listeners will notice that the mixes on these earlier releases is much more refined in terms of dynamics, equalization, reverb, and other sonic niceties than it is on the 2011 box. Keith Godchaux in particular receives more attention to detail on the older mixes. On the 2011 mixes, there is even a distortion issue with the vocals on every show up to the first Paris show (5/3/72) that then pretty much clears up for the rest of the box. Obviously the mixing budget for Europe ’72: The Complete Recordings did not allow for the “extravagance” of the earlier, higher-fidelity mixes.

The only earlier, superior mixes used on the box are Discs 3 and 4 of the 4/24/72 show, previously released as Rockin’ the Rhein. For an unknown reason, these songs were not newly mixed for the box, but the first two discs of this show were. I cannot begin to guess why, except that it saved a few hours of studio time. No other earlier mixes were used anywhere on the box set.

The first song released from this tour was a 24-minute excerpt of “Dark Star” from 4/8, which Garcia and Bob Matthews mixed in a London studio in late May 1972 for the Glastonbury Fayre album. This is one case where we can compare an original Dead mix from the tour with the two recent mixes of that jam, on Steppin’ Out and the box set.
For more observations on the box set mix, also see this older discussion:

As a final note – I may have missed some overdubs, so please comment if you’ve found anything not mentioned here.