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Gordon the Drummer
Senior Boarder
Posts:388

Dylan and the Dead

#205138 1 year, 6 months ago
Recently I've come across several really interesting bits on Bob Dylan's relationship to the Grateful Dead, so I thought I'd post 'em here for anyone who's interested.

From Howard Sounes' Down the Highway:

[On 2/13/89, Bob Dylan] called The Grateful Dead office and said he wanted to join the band. He made it clear that he was serious. So the band took a vote. "I was in for that, but one of our members didn't particularly care for him," says Weir. "I think we would have [taken him], if it hadn'tve been for that one guy. We would have picked him up as a sort of temporary band member."

[A]ccording to Bob Weir, it was Lesh who had vetoed Bob joining The Dead back in 1989.

• • • •

From Dennis McNally's A Long Strange Trip:

[In June 1995] Parish learned that John Scher had violated protocol by speaking to Dylan and Garcia about a possible joint acoustic tour without first talking to him, and was frothing at the mouth.

• • • •

From Bob Dylan's Chronicles Volume One:

The tour with Petty was broken up into parts and during one of the layoffs, one of the organizers, Elliot Roberts, had set up some shows for me to do with The Grateful Dead. I needed to go rehearse with the band for these shows, so I went to San Rafael to meet with The Dead. I thought it would be as easy as jumping rope. After an hour or so, it became clear to me that the band wanted to rehearse more and different songs than I had been used to doing with Petty. They wanted to run over all the songs, the ones they liked, the seldom seen ones. I found myself in a peculiar position and I could hear the brakes screech. If I had known this to begin with, I might not have taken the dates. I had no feelings for any of those songs and didn't know how I could sing them with any intent. A lot of them might have been only sung once anyway, the time that they'd been recorded. There were so many that I couldn't tell which was which-I might even get the words to some mixed up with others. I needed sets of lyrics to understand what they were talking about, and when I saw the lyrics, especially to the older, more obscure songs, I couldn't see how I could get this stuff off emotionally.

I felt like a goon and didn't want to stick around. The whole thing might have been a mistake. I'd have to go someplace for the mentally ill and think about it. After saying that I'd left something at the hotel, I stepped back outside onto Front Street and started walking, put my head down against the drizzling rain. I wasn't planning on going back. If you have to lie, you should do it quickly and as well as you can. I started up the street-maybe four or five or six blocks went by and then I heard the sounds of a jazz combo playing up ahead. Walking past the door of a tiny bar, I looked in and saw that the musicians were playing at the opposite end of the room. It was raining and there were few people inside. One of them was laughing at something. It looked like the last stop on the train to nowhere and the air was filled with cigarette smoke. Something was calling to me to come in and I entered, walked along the long, narrow bar to where the jazz cats were playing in the back on a raised platform in front of a brick wall. I got within four feet of the stage and just stood there against the bar, ordered a gin and tonic and faced the singer. An older man, he wore a mohair suit, flat cap with a little brim and shiny necktie. The drummer had a rancher's Stetson on and the bassist and pianist were neatly dressed. They played jazz ballads, stuff like "Time on My Hands" and "Gloomy Sunday." The singer reminded me of Billy Eckstine. He wasn't very forceful, but he didn't have to be; he was relaxed, but he sang with natural power. Suddenly and without warning, it was like the guy had an open window to my soul. It was like he was saying, "You should do it this way." All of a sudden, I understood something faster than I ever did before. I could feel how he worked at getting his power, what he was doing to get at it. I knew where the power was coming from and it wasn't his voice, though the voice brought me sharply back to myself. I used to do this thing, I'm thinking. It was a long time ago and it had been automatic. No one had ever taught me. This technique was so elemental, so simple and I'd forgotten. It was like I'd forgotten how to button my own pants. I wondered if I could still do it. I wanted at least a chance to try. If I could in any way get close to handling this technique, I could get off this marathon stunt ride.

Returning to The Dead's rehearsal hall as if nothing had happened, I picked it up where we had left off, couldn't wait to get started-taking one of the songs that they wanted to do, seeing if I could sing it using the same method that the old singer used. I had a premonition something would happen. At first it was hard going, like drilling through a brick wall. All I did was taste the dust. But then miraculously something internal came unhinged. In the beginning all I could get out was a blood-choked coughing grunt and it blasted up from the bottom of my lower self, but it bypassed my brain. That had never happened before. It burned, but I was awake. The scheme wasn't sewed up too tight, would need a lot of stitches, but I grasped the idea. I had to concentrate like mad because I was having to maneuver more than one stratagem at the same time, but now I knew I could perform any of these songs without them having to be restricted to the world of words. This was revelatory. I played these shows with The Dead and never had to think twice about it. Maybe they just dropped something in my drink, I can't say, but anything they wanted to do was fine with me. I had that old jazz singer to thank.
Last Edit: 1 year, 6 months ago by Gordon the Drummer.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Equinox, iamthedoor, nycdave, kevin, ICantFindMyFace, amusingdeva, Strider1, RowTimmy
Strider1
Platinum Boarder
Posts:1753
PMA - Positive Mental Attitude

Re: Dylan and the Dead

#205154 1 year, 6 months ago
Good read.

Thanks for sharing!
Takin' it in stride!
Equinox
Platinum Boarder
Posts:15751

Re: Dylan and the Dead

#205168 1 year, 6 months ago
I had always thought it was Mickey who vetoed Dylan.
"Got any nails?"
"No!"
"Got any flies?"
ZenoMarx
Gold Boarder
Posts:963
PLEASE be quiet when the band is playing. PLEASE.

Re: Dylan and the Dead

#205203 1 year, 6 months ago
Thank goodness for Phil. (and I do like Dylan, just not anywhere near the Dead in any shape or form)
You aren't interesting or clever when you write or speak in the lyrics of others. Rather, what are YOUR words?

It's dead and over when close enough is good enough.
kevin
Platinum Boarder
Posts:3101

Re: Dylan and the Dead

#205209 1 year, 6 months ago
ZenoMarx wrote:
Thank goodness for Phil. (and I do like Dylan, just not anywhere near the Dead in any shape or form)


OH MAN

Tom Thumb's Blues
Desolation Row
Baby Blue
Ballad of a Thin Man
Visions of Johanna
Knockin
Watchtower
Maggie's farm
Memphis Blues
Queen Jane
Masterpiece

some mighty fine tunes written by Bob Dylan
gone are the days we stopped to decide, where we should go we just ride
nycdave
Platinum Boarder
Posts:4631

Re: Dylan and the Dead

#205216 1 year, 6 months ago
Based on what I have read about Phil's impression of Bob Dylan, it would be hard for me to believe that he would be against Bob joining the band. When Phil & Friends first toured the east coast, they co-headlined with Bob. Phil opened one night, while Bob would open the next. Phil joined Bob for the encore at various shows. They also toured together in the summer of 2000.
Bob Dylan expressed an interest in having the GD play as his backup band, something Jerry wanted very much to do. He had a great deal of respect for Robert Hunter, even covering a few of his tunes (Sylvio, Alabama Getaway, others). Dylan also expressed an interest in dead heads, even talking to some during shows. Jerry thought that he was nuts to do that, but that is a whole different story. As to whether Bob wanted to join the band, that (to me) seems hard to believe. What percentage of Dylan songs would be played. Jamming out was rarely part of Bob's agenda.
When The Dead Toured in 2003, Bob Dylan opened some shows and also joined the band for either three or four songs in the middle of the first sets. See 7/31, 8/2, 3, 5, 6 and 8 /2003. He sang both Dead (Hunter and others) and Dylan songs. Jerry also joined Bob during show in the early 1990's.
Both the Dead and Dylan are unique musicians, and both have expressed admiration for each other. But for the two to play in the same band would seem (IMHO) to diminish what each brings to the table. Why either side would want to do this seems problematic.
ZenoMarx
Gold Boarder
Posts:963
PLEASE be quiet when the band is playing. PLEASE.

Re: Dylan and the Dead

#205231 1 year, 6 months ago
kevin wrote:
ZenoMarx wrote:
Thank goodness for Phil. (and I do like Dylan, just not anywhere near the Dead in any shape or form)


OH MAN

Tom Thumb's Blues
Desolation Row
Baby Blue
Ballad of a Thin Man
Visions of Johanna
Knockin
Watchtower
Maggie's farm
Memphis Blues
Queen Jane
Masterpiece

some mighty fine tunes written by Bob Dylan
and not a single one of them did I ever want to hear when I went to see the GD or want to see played when I go to any post-GD band. Never liked their inclusion. Never will.
You aren't interesting or clever when you write or speak in the lyrics of others. Rather, what are YOUR words?

It's dead and over when close enough is good enough.
ZenoMarx
Gold Boarder
Posts:963
PLEASE be quiet when the band is playing. PLEASE.

Re: Dylan and the Dead

#205233 1 year, 6 months ago
nycdave wrote:
Both the Dead and Dylan are unique musicians, and both have expressed admiration for each other. But for the two to play in the same band would seem (IMHO) to diminish what each brings to the table. Why either side would want to do this seems problematic.
Yes, two different animals, and the cross-breeding would serve no good purpose but to lessen each and to not make a hybrid of greater value. There's no positive consequence to this other than novelty, and the Dead experience means a hell of a lot more to me than some silly novelty. Neither of these great acts need(ed) hip dysplasia.
You aren't interesting or clever when you write or speak in the lyrics of others. Rather, what are YOUR words?

It's dead and over when close enough is good enough.
Gordon the Drummer
Senior Boarder
Posts:388

Re: Dylan and the Dead

#205240 1 year, 6 months ago
If Bob Dylan had been allowed to join the GD in 1989, I don't think it would have been "Dylan and the Dead" (with the GD as Zimmy's backing band); rather, it very well might have been more like the wonderful Garcia-Weir-McKernan song rotations of the Europe '72 tour - three frontmen taking turns calling the tune: Tomorrow is a Long Time-> Playing in the Band-> Uncle John's Band-> Wicked Messenger-> Drums-> Space-> Dark Star-> The Other One-> Chimes of Freedom-> Box of Rain.

So if a Garcia/Weir/Dylan lineup had gotten the chance to develop beginning in 1989 and they actually had years (as opposed to weeks) together to go deeper into rehearsing, exploring and creating, it could have become an incredibly interesting and creative late-period phase of the Dead's history.

I kinda like the later idea of a Dylan/Garcia "joint acoustic tour" too, though. . . that's one of the undoubtedly great "might-have-beens."
Last Edit: 1 year, 6 months ago by Gordon the Drummer.
kevin
Platinum Boarder
Posts:3101

Re: Dylan and the Dead

#205246 1 year, 6 months ago
ZenoMarx wrote:
nycdave wrote:
Both the Dead and Dylan are unique musicians, and both have expressed admiration for each other. But for the two to play in the same band would seem (IMHO) to diminish what each brings to the table. Why either side would want to do this seems problematic.
Yes, two different animals, and the cross-breeding would serve no good purpose but to lessen each and to not make a hybrid of greater value. There's no positive consequence to this other than novelty, and the Dead experience means a hell of a lot more to me than some silly novelty. Neither of these great acts need(ed) hip dysplasia.


So great musicians shouldn't play together because it would weaken the power of the music?
Lighten up man
gone are the days we stopped to decide, where we should go we just ride
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