The stray cats, searching for redemption, inspiration, and rebirth, stumble into each other and rediscover The Music.
17 January 2023 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News
Although a long-time fan (fanatic) of both acts, I must admit that by the time Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead joined forces in 1987, I had lost all conception of their current musical offerings.
That would change as usual, as each found the path back to their respective path forward, but I have never gone back to explore this phase.
Until now. This is rather a remarkable collection of musical discoveries on the part of both Dylan and The Dead.
As noted below, they were by then going through the motions -Dylan because that was what he always did and The Dead to feed the machine of humans that now relied on the band for their very survival.
So long and short, they entered the studio and -to the surprise of all- discovered that they not only retained their creative juices but could indeed take Dylan’s music to a place it had never been before.
Perhaps it was indeed these sessions and subsequent tour that would see them through The Dead’s final chapters and Dylan’s remarkable and still-rolling rebirth.
No matter. The music survives.
James Porteous | Clipper Media News
Bob Dylan and Grateful Dead
The Complete Studio Rehearsals
Club Front Studios San Rafael, CA June 1987
“This 6-cd set, donated by Alan Fraser, documents all the known Dylan and Dead rehearsals from the Club Front in San Rafael, CA (June 1987) in incredible sound quality. All the songs come from soundboard cassette masters transferred to DAT, then CD-R.”
Disc 1 – Prehearsals 1 –
The French Girl/Blues Stay Away From Me 0:00
2 – Conversation 6:33
3 – John Hardy [John Hardy Was A Desperate Man] 12:36
4 – Conversation 18:18
5 – Instrumental Jam 20:37
6 – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry/Blues Stay Away From Me 23:21
Disc 2 – Rehearsals
7 – The Times They Are A-Changin’ 26:33
8 – When I Paint My Masterpiece 29:47
9 – Man Of Peace 33:37
10 – I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight 38:01
11 – The Ballad Of Ira Hayes 41:43
12 – I Want You 46:17
13 – Ballad Of A Thin Man 49:52
14 – Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again 52:16
15 – Dead Man, Dead Man 57:47
16 – Queen Jane Approximately 1:02:51
17 – The French Girl 1:07:17
18 – In The Summertime 1:10:33
19 – Man Of Peace 1:15:14
20 – Union Sundown 1:18:52
21 – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue 1:23:09
22 – Joey 1:29:04
Disc 3 – Rehearsals
23 – If Not For You 1:38:31
24 – If Not For You 1:39:34
25 – Slow Train 1:42:12
26 – Tomorrow Is A Long Time 1:47:34
27 – Walkin’ Down The Line 1:51:50
28 – Gotta Serve Somebody 1:55:40
29 – Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking 1:59:51
32 – All I Really Want To Do 2:10:22
33 – John Brown 2:14:16
34 – Heart Of Mine 2:20:13
35 – Rolling In My Sweet Baby’s Arms 2:24:11
36 – John Hardy [John Hardy Was A Desperate Man] 2:27:23
37 – The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest 2:30:54
38 – John Brown 2:37:18
39 – I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight 2:43:00
Disc 4 – Rehearsals
40 – Don’t Keep Me Waiting Too Long [Go Ahead, Baby] 2:46:53
41 – Stealin’ 2:50:57
42 – I Want You 2:53:49
43 – Oh Boy 2:58:07
44 – Tangled Up In Blue 3:00:31
45 – Simple Twist Of Fate 3:06:27
46 – The Boy In The Bubble 3:12:35
47 – Heart Of Mine 3:18:13
48 – Pledging My Time 3:22:36
49 – Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power) 3:26:08
50 – The Wicked Messenger 3:30:37
51 – Watching The River Flow 3:33:55
Disc 5 – Rehearsals
52 – Under Your Spell 3:37:46
53 – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry 3:42:50
54 – Blues Stay Away From Me 3:45:39
55 – If Not For You 3:49:13
56 – The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest 3:51:55
57 – Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power) 3:59:06
58 – I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight 4:04:00
59 – I’m Free 4:08:02
60 – They Killed Him 4:11:48
61 – Pledging My Time 4:15:21
62 – Oh Boy 4:18:51
Disc 6 – The Grateful Dead Hour No. 705, broadcast week of 25 Mar 2002
63 – Introduction by David Gans 4:21:09
64 – Gans interviewed by Gary Lambert 4:22:18
65 – All Along The Watchtower 4:28:26
66 – More Gans interview 4:34:08
67 – Stealin’ 4:45:31
68 – Gans 4:48:35
69 – Oh Boy 4:49:42
70 – John Brown 4:52:03
71 – Folsom Prison Blues 4:59:53
72 – Gotta Serve Somebody 5:03:50
73 – Hideaway/C C Rider 5:10:57
74 – Gans conclusion 5:14:39
Jack Whatley. | Far Out
We’re dipping into the Far Out vault to bring you the meeting of two of our favourite artists, the mercurial Bob Dylan and the unstoppable creative force that is The Grateful Dead.
It may seem a natural fit on the face of it but it took a long chunk of the artists’ careers to go by before they would link up. Though both Dylan and the Dead were prominent in the 1960s and ’70s, it would be way into the following decade before the stars aligned and the group would work with the freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.
While The Grateful Dead have always enjoyed the uncanny ability to live within the moment and, therefore, never truly let time pass them by, the 1980s were an incredibly odd time for Bob Dylan.
As well as not being quite revered as the inspirational musical genius that he is today, the singer had yet to really crack the charts and his glow was beginning to fade. His career was nosediving and it was a situation that would eventually land him on a farewell tour alongside The Grateful Dead.
As you might have expected, instead of The Grateful Dead providing Dylan with the perfect tie-dye coffin to put his career in, the band instead inspired and rejuvenated icon.
They rekindled not only his career but his love of music as a whole and, perhaps more importantly, the love of his own music which had been slowly slipping away from him. Much of it can be traced back to one mammoth rehearsal session with the Dead.
In Dylan’s autobiography, he recalls: “Everything was smashed. My own songs had become strangers to me, I didn’t have the skill to touch the right nerves, couldn’t penetrate the surfaces. It wasn’t my moment of history anymore.” The ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ singer felt pushed aside and was perhaps now more than happy to take his place in the history books as one of the greats.
Following a tour with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Dylan came to a realisation: “Tom was at the top of his game and I was at the bottom of mine.” The singer was ready to retire, sick of the downward spiral he was struggling against.
However, before he hung up his guitar he was scheduled to do some shows with The Grateful Dead. The group invited the mercurial songwriter out to San Rafael in California to rehearse as one and beef up their chances of a good show. It was unlike any rehearsal Dylan had ever experienced — but you already guessed that.
In Chronicles, Volume 1, he writes: “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.”
It saw the band ready to devour the content of Dylan’s catalogue and offer him the stage to realise the glory of performing once more. It was clear that Jerry Garcia and the band were huge fans. Speaking of Dylan’s album Bringing It All Back Home, Garcia once remarked it was “beautiful mad stuff. And that turned us all on, we couldn’t believe it.”
That kind of fandom was something Dylan wasn’t used to, especially coupled with the group’s ability to break down any notion of superiority between the two factions. “I found myself in a peculiar position and I could hear the brakes screech,” remembered Dylan, worried about how things would go down. “If I had known this to begin with, I might not have taken the dates…There were so many [songs] that I couldn’t tell which was which—I might even get the words to some mixed up with others.”
It was a daunting task for an artist who thought his time was up. He left the studio and was determined to never return until a run-in with a jazz band made him reconsider. Dylan & The Dead, as the live show and subsequent album was titled, arrived as a frightening concept for the singer but “then miraculously,” he adds, “Something internal came unhinged.” It was the breakthrough he had been hoping for.
It may have been the reaction the two artists rekindled in one another or it may have been the relaxants on offer at the studio but soon enough something just ‘clicked’. “I played these shows with The Dead and never had to think twice about it,” recalled Dylan. “Maybe they just dropped something in my drink, I can’t say, but anything they wanted to do was fine with me.”
The joining of Dylan and The Dead is noted as one of the most cohesive examples of its kind but what’s even better are the rehearsal sessions that began it all. Below, you can listen to the full recording session (around 74 tracks) which features, ‘It’s All Over Now Baby Blue’, ‘Maggie’s Farm’, ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ and so many more.
Howard F. Weiner’s book shows the parallel worlds of Dylan and the Dead, and the impact they had on each other.
The compositions contained herein caused a lot of confusion and derision at the time since Dylan, born and brought up Jewish, ended 1979 by writing and performing exclusively Christian-based gospel-flavored material.
Of course this alienated many fans, though, as with most of his adventures, the public eventually came to accept this phase as one of Dylan’s most creative and intense. Like when he went electric, or threw it all away and went to make some basement noise.
Fans have been so well trained after all these decades that whenever Dylan decides to change directions, most accept that it will one day make sense. As Bruce Springsteen said when inducting Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, “Dylan was a revolutionary. The way Elvis freed your body, Bob freed your mind.”
Yes, Dylan’s mercurial moves all eventually make sense. Except for Dylan’s collaboration with the Grateful Dead, that is. In between two tours with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Dylan sandwiched in six U.S. stadium dates with the Dead in the summer of 1987.
Despite Dylan’s desire to “free your mind,” many fans still cannot wrap their heads around the fact that his interactions with Jerry Garcia specifically, and the Dead in general, were instrumental in getting the iconic singer-songwriter back on track after losing his way in the mid-1980s.
In his somewhat fictionalized memoir, “Chronicles, Volume One,” Dylan did not give direct credit to Garcia for his friendship and support, but instead used a made-up story in which he left tour rehearsals, frustrated, to find inspiration in a phantom jazz singer at a local club. This did not help fans understand the importance of Garcia’s impact, nor did the unrepresentative 1989 live document, “Dylan & the Dead.”
Dylan and the Dead
Weiner’s most recent book, “Dylan & The Grateful Dead – A Tale of Twisted Fate,” may change those fans’ minds. Though Weiner has written numerous books about Garcia, the Dead, and Dylan, and has an intense knowledge of the artists, he’s a bit more in the Dead camp, his first love. Yet it’s Weiner’s latter day enthusiasm and exploration of Dylan’s work that gives the narrative a unique and passionate perspective.
“Dylan & The Grateful Dead” reads like a print version of a Grateful Dead bootleg tape, as his expertise enables him to interweave the disparate yet parallel stories of Dylan and Garcia like a particularly inspired “China-Rider” jam.
The story as it unfolds in “Dylan & The Grateful Dead” begins to resemble a biblical parable, or maybe a Greek curse. When Dylan and the Dead crossed paths in 1987, the Dead were about to reach their commercial peak with the release of their “In The Dark” album, with their surprising MTV-friendly hit, “Touch of Grey.” It was the Dead’s first album of new material since 1980’s “Go to Heaven.” In the interim, the band was so studio-phobic they begged their label, Arista, to accept two double-live albums in exchange for their next contracted studio one.
The Dead was becoming such a touring behemoth, with tribal fans following them around the country, Ticketmaster created a unique database to handle the intense demand. In the mid-1980s, after alienating much of his fan base yet again, Dylan needed Petty on the bill to help him fill up bigger venues.
The collaboration between Dylan and the Dead led to a creative explosion. The Dead had almost become a Dylan cover band by this time, while Dylan, himself, was at a crossroads.
During rehearsals for 1987’s “Dylan & the Dead” tour, Garcia guided a dispirited Dylan into reconnecting with his own catalogue.
In the studio, with help from the Dead’s Bob Weir and Brent Mydland, Garcia backed him up on a much needed radio hit, “Silvio,” co-written by Dylan with Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, a highlight on the lackluster album, “Down In The Groove.”
Meanwhile, as the Dead’s shows were getting bigger and more unwieldy, Dylan purposefully decided to model his so-called “Never-Ending Tour” after the Dead’s touring philosophy.
This meant mixing up the set lists every night and touring throughout the year, regardless of any new album promotion or other expected commercial concerns.
Dylan, however, decided to downsize and often play smaller venues, attempting to destroy the myth he helped cultivate. It gave him an alternative career path, one which would not ultimately threaten to do him in.
Simultaneously, Garcia was trapped in the role of cash cow, responsible for generating income for the entire extended Dead family. Weiner discusses Garcia’s dilemma in great detail, and is one of the book’s many strengths.
Garcia, Dylan, and Presley
By burning bridges, Dylan has been able to survive. Garcia was unable to break away, and, much like Elvis Presley, self medicated to help cope with the immense pressures, demands, and lack of control, in his own life.
Even though neither sang their own lyrics, Presley and Garcia were worshipped for the images they projected, or more accurately, the ones fans wanted to see. Apparently neither musician was ever able to extract themselves from “the star-making machinery behind the popular song,” as Joni Mitchell once wrote.
Presley died at 42, while Garcia barely made it to 53. Dylan learned his lesson in 1966, aged 25, when he used a motorcycle mishap to put the brakes on his career. He stopped the world and got off. Dylan is now 76, still on the road, heading for another joint. As much as possible in this industry, he controls the shots.
Dylan’s collaboration with Garcia and the Dead was one of the most important, and inspiring, associations in his career. Tragically, Garcia was not able to learn the most important lesson he could have learned from Dylan. Weiner’s “Dylan & The Grateful Dead” will help you understand why.
“I will survive,” indeed.