The Grateful Dead…
…are on the top of the New York Times website right now. It makes me love life. Ben Ratliff provides a concise introduction to GD/taper culture and engages in the fine art of arguing about what the best Dead show/tour/era of all time is/was. The hook for all this is that the surviving band (now known simply as The Dead) is touring again, and Grateful Dead Productions has just released To Terrapin: Hartford ’77 (which I am listening to right now- there’s a 19 minute version of “Sugaree!” On disc ONE!!). 5/28/77 is a fascinating choice because it was a mere 20 days after 5/8/77 at Cornell, a show which is historically regarded by most hardcore fans as THE BEST Grateful Dead show and which has never seen an official release. (Personally, I think there’s a good argument to be made for 12/31/78, The Closing of Winterland, which is where the photo above was taken.)
Deadheads have often been polled about their favorite show, through fanzines and Web sites. The answers have stayed fairly consistent. May 8, 1977, at Barton Hall, Cornell University. The pairing of Feb. 13 and 14, 1970, at the Fillmore East in New York — perhaps the first widely traded shows. The Veneta and Binghamton shows. You’d think the canon would have been displaced as more and more information came along, but it hasn’t, really; it has only widened. I have spoken to young Deadheads who, surprisingly, respect the ancient judgments. “I’ll stick with May 8 because of its historical importance,” said Yona Koch-Feinberg, an 18-year-old from Manhattan. “That’s almost as important as the musical ability of the evening.”
The article is accompanied by a gallery of user-contributed photos from all eras of the band’s career. Awesome awesome. But, uh, books? Books. Yes, right. Okay. Well, my favorite book about The Grateful Dead is Carol Brightman’s Sweet Chaos: The Grateful Dead’s American Adventure. I also really enjoyed Phil Lesh’s autobiography, Searching for the Sound. And of course, you need a copy of David Dodd’s Complete Annotated Grateful Dead lyrics, which overlaps quite a bit with but is not to be mistaken for or in any way replace Robert Hunter’s A Box of Rain: Collected Lyrics 1965-1993.
Tags: Grateful Dead