It was on this date, December 4 in 1965, at Big Nig's house in San Jose that Ken Kesey hosted the San Jose Acid Test, and the Grateful Dead performed their first show under their new name. Can you even imagine what that must have been like?
Having seen countless bands perform live in small clubs in the Bay Area over the past 25+ years, I imagine that it was a colorful time. Considering the occasion was an Acid Test it must have been a really cOloRfuL time.
Regular listeners of my radio show know that I'm a dork of a Deadhead, and proud of it. I wrote part one, of what I really need to follow up on, my history with following the band. I've got over 1000 high quality bootlegs of their shows, and have been known as a walking encyclopedia when it comes to all-things-Grateful-Dead. And it still thrills me to no end.
There are certainly times when I take a step back, and another step back, and yet another step back; but I always come back. They're my musical heartbeat. My body lives on many genres, but this is the band that really keeps my blood flowing.
I was driving to the East Bay today in what has become the regular moderate-to-heavy traffic, before 3PM. I recently downloaded a few fan-curated comps of the Dead, following Dead.net annual "30 Days of the Dead". I like that some fans think they can do a better job then the Dead themselves in offering up quality live tunes for other Heads. That's fine by me. I have about 10 hours of live Dead material to catch up on over the holidays. Good for me.
Anyway, I was listening to this powerful Dark Star from 1969, and I thought about how I have listened to this song over the past 25+ years. When I was younger and this song was new to me, it was so mysterious. I just let it take me on an aural journey. At times I was imbibed, so it really took me places. Now I listen to it the way a musician listens to a jazz or classical arrangement. How are the musicians listening to one another? What are they each offering to the tune? Who is leading at which points in the song? Are there any stories being told through the instrumentation, that we won't hear in the lyrics?
I love this band for the stories they tell us without using any words at all.
Happy birthday to the best cover band in the land. You went from taking Top 10 hits, and rearranging them while on LSD, to creating a soulful sound that drew millions to your carnival ride.