dead and dylan question

dead and dylan question

Postby Jimkkc » Fri Jul 28, 2006 2:56 pm

I got into Dylan when I started guitar lessons back in 1985 - I got into the Dead around 1986, so my musical "heritage" has long linked the two. Now this summer I find myself doing much (probably too much reading) on Dylan as a performer. The question I have is why does there seem to be so much disdain for the dead in "dylan" circles. By "dylan" circles I mean people who enjoy Dylan but not necessarily the dead? I ask this for a couple of reasons: 1. The more I read about Dylan as performer, the more I see links between him and the GD in terms of attitudes towards playing live. That is, changing songs from night to night to even recording and releasing "live" takes in the studio. For example, the final four tracks on Dylan's "Bringing it All Back Home" were recorded in one night, with no breaks or playbacks between the "performances." Second, there are obvious connections in terms of where these guys come from musically - both steeped in "American" music, for lack of better term. Third, the obvious connections in terms of the 86-87 collaborations and then dylan's eulogy for Jerry. Finally, dylan's and the GD's reluctance to be anybody's political whipping boy or political whore seems to definitely put these performers in similar territory. Thoughts anyone?
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Postby caspersvapors » Fri Jul 28, 2006 4:48 pm

I have another related question, what exactly was the relationship between Jerry and Dylan? Like how did they connect?
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Postby Jimkkc » Sat Jul 29, 2006 5:09 am

The connection between Dylan and Jerry seems to be one of artistic respect - Jerry went down to the Warfield and played with Dylan at the height of Dylan's born again years (1980) in part and according to a few sources - to bring more people out and to show that Dylan's "new" art was an important stage in his artistic growth. There are also varying reports about how the dead re-inspired Dylan in 1987. This is an interesting space in Dylan's career and one that speaks to my original question about why those in Dylan's circle pan the dead. According to Dylan (see his "Chronicle") his rehearsals at Front Street in Spring '87 showed him the next step in his singing and playing. On the other hand, sources other than "Chronicle" written by people in the Dylan circle use the Spring '87 rehearsals to universally pan the Dead.
In the liner notes to his "World Gone Wrong" album, Dylan also speaks of how it was Jerry that showed him the tune for Two Soldiers - which at the very least implies shared musical ground (and more than likely a few nights of picking). That same album also features Dylan's take on "Jack-a-Roe".
My sense is that both the two had a musical respect for each other - one that may or may not be shared by fans of either. I think Dylan's "invitation" to Jerry's funeral and his subsequent statements concerning Jerry's place in music and his place in Dylan's growth as an artist attest to that respect.
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Postby amyjared » Sun Jul 30, 2006 10:42 am

Being a Dylan and Dead fan, I can only guess, but here goes: I think there is disdain for the Dead in Dylan circles because Jerry was a bad influence on Bob. Having been on tour and seen all the Dylan/Dead shows, I was SO looking forward to their collaboration, but thought it was muddled at best. It was better without Petty, but still not what I was expecting. I prefered the rehearsal tapes I had to the actual shows (does anyone have them on cd??) Dylan put on some of the worst shows of his career from about '85-'93 and then something happened and he started to actually care and his shows became incredible to watch again.
In a Dylan biography that I read, Dylan actually asked to join the Dead, but Phil said no! As for their connection, Jerry idolized Bob the way many folks do. They respected each other as musicians and songwriters and both had a love of music that goes way beyond us mortals.
"The only funeral you should ever try to interrupt is your own, and that should be a full-time job." -Kinky Friedman
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Postby strumminsix » Sun Jul 30, 2006 11:03 am

What was the bad influence?
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Postby jck_strw » Sun Jul 30, 2006 11:23 am

amyjared wrote:I prefered the rehearsal tapes I had to the actual shows (does anyone have them on cd??)


As a matter of fact, yes. I just picked them up. 6 CDs from what I remember. They're still sitting in a stack on my desk waiting to be labeled and I haven't listened to them yet.

So many CDs, so little time. ;)
http://db.etree.org/jck_strw - Tapelist
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Postby amyjared » Sun Jul 30, 2006 12:31 pm

The bad influence was Heroin and the partying lifestyle.
"The only funeral you should ever try to interrupt is your own, and that should be a full-time job." -Kinky Friedman
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Postby Jimkkc » Sun Jul 30, 2006 1:16 pm

I wonder about the bad influence - To be sure Dylan is/was no angel in his own life; more than one source makes this plainly evident - he may not have gone to the excesses of some in the Dead and related scenes, but any number of sources indicate Dylan is not exactly inexperienced in this realm. In similar fashion - as we also know now - Jerry and Bob had similar experiences in personal relationships.
There is, however, a sense in many of the Dylan sources I have read that the writers of the books are trying to downplay any connection between Dylan and drugs - be it marijuana, alcohol, or LSD - I think that this downplaying is to the detriment of understanding Dylan's growth as an artist. In the same sense that to understand the GD and Garcia's growth as performers, we should listen to the great shows from 1977, but we should also listen to the dark and ugly shows of 1981. Likewise, to "get"Dylan, it seems to me that one should look for all evidence of aesthetic growth regardless if it comes through marijuana or Jerry Garcia.
Perhaps the disdain has to do with feeling the need to protect an image. Dylan, after all, was very cognizant of the power of images: both real and otherwise. In the end, it is unfortunate that there is a disdain as there are plenty of artistic connections between the boys and Dylan.
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Postby strumminsix » Sun Jul 30, 2006 2:20 pm

Nice post, Jimkkc! And thanks AmyJ!

Seems to me with "celebrity partying" it goes one of two ways and it really depends on what happened to the celebrity.

If they overcome the drugs, alcohol, etc, it gets downplayed or people are silent about it, or excuses are made.

If they lose it all, then the drugs, alcohol, etc, gets highly publicisized and people talk about it constantly.
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Postby Jimkkc » Mon Jul 31, 2006 5:19 am

Stumminsix - I think you are absolutely right regarding how a celebrity's drug use is spun in the media. This is particularly a problem with Jerry. Obviously, Jerry had quite a problem with the hard stuff; however, he also had type II diabetes. I bring this up because for those of us who either have Type I or Type II diabetes and/or know about diabetes, we know that smoking and eating an unhealthy diet which result in high blood sugar levels are absurdly difficult for a diabetic body to handle - not they are easy for those without diabetes, but diabetes and smoking is just about the worst thing a diabetic can do. I am not trying to excuse Garcia's drug excesses, but the diabetes - to me - has long explained Garcia's downturn in his health and playing. My feeling has long been that Garcia's health and playing suffered in the final years not from heroin (although that probably didn't help) but also from neuropathy in the fingers brought on by the type II diabetes (neuropathy simply put is a loss of feeling in one's extremities that can be painful - and is brought about by a lond disregard for maintaining blood sugar levels.) And clearly, if one has neuropathy in the fingers and one is a lead guitar player, one would probably have a fairly difficult time playing. And this could have triggered more use of the hard stuff by Jerry (i.e so he could play - which would create quite a horrible circle to be in)
In the end, maybe this is one more area that Dylan and Garcia shared - the desire to maintain an image. I don't mean that in a harsh way, but reading books on Dylan and Garcia, it becomes evident that people around the two stars seemed to have an investment in the "image" - This might explain why both worked so hard to escape their "selves." And Strumminsix, as you imply, the powers that be focus on the outward signs - the heroin use in Garcia's case and the "voice of a generation" label in Dylan's case - because the newspapers and the popular magazines need a handle.
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