© 1969, Michael Wanger and Vance Frost
1. [ A Strong Single ]
2. [ It Was a Gas ]
3. [ "Dark Star" ]
4. [ Enfolding Space ]
5. [ T.C. ]
6. [ Complex, Intricate, & Fast ]
7. [ Like a Dream ]
8. [ "Born Cross-Eyed" ]
9. [ "Alligator" ]
10. [ Eight Limbs ]
11. [ Down to Serious Business ]
12. [ Millions of Changes ]
13. [ Credits ]
14. [ I Love 'em! ]
Brackets [ ] indicate producer's notes.
JERRY GARCIA: After we recorded the album they said, "Well, we still haven't got anything here that'd be a strong single." So we said, "Ah, a strong single, sure!" So we went home and wrote a song, ya' know. "Wow, this'll be a good single." We just did it and that was it.
*Music - "The Golden Road (to Unlimited Devotion)"
MICHAEL WANGER: Their first single, "the Golden Road," wasn't exactly a jukebox monster. The album, however, was gratefully received by you and I.
VANCE FROST: The following June, they played at the Monterey International Pops Festival and continued to play throughout the summer in the San Francisco Ballrooms. They also played many free concerts in the Park.
[Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.]
MICHAEL WANGER: In September, 1967, Mickey Hart, a drummer, saw the Dead for the first time.
MICKEY HART: How it happened was, we were down at the Fillmore. I was with a friend down there at the Fillmore, I'd never heard the Grateful Dead, and um…
BILL KREUTZMANN: Tell it like it really was…
JERRY GARCIA: Tell it like it was!
MICKEY HART: …and someone said, "There's the drummer for the Grateful Dead." And being so impressed, I walked over to him and I said, "Oh my, your record was so wonderful. I love your record, it was just great."
VANCE FROST: Do you sleep at night?
MICKEY HART: And I really liked the record… I must have been very stoned when I heard it.
BOB WEIR: The next day I heard that Mickey and Bill had moved their drums together into Bill's basement, and had been working together. Or something like that.
BILL KREUTZMANN: So we thought at that point we'd try two drummers and get something new.
MICKEY HART: Yeah, we set up one day at the Straight Theater. Actually, it was playing for the dance classes, remember?
[The Straight Theater was the old Haight Movie Theater on Haight Street. The name was changed in the late sixties.]
BILL KREUTZMANN: Yeah.
BOB WEIR: And so, that night Mickey sat in with us and it was a gas.
MICHAEL WANGER: After Mickey Hart joined the band, they began work on their second album ["Anthem of the Sun"], which took, in all, eight months to finish. It was during this work that they released their second single, "Dark Star."
VANCE FROST: It was a departure from their past recorded performances, but quite indicative of what the Dead were doing at that particular time, both in the studio and live. Although "Dark Star" was not included in their second album, it was more or less a sample of the things to come.
*Music (studio) - "Dark Star"
VANCE FROST: In the tradition established by their first single, "Dark Star" didn't exactly jump up the charts.
MICHAEL WANGER: Yeah, what happened?
JERRY GARCIA: I don't know. We put it out thinking that maybe someone would play it, you know.
VANCE FROST: Tony Bigg played it.
[Tony Bigg was a local radio DJ, one of the few who would consider the Dead for "Top 40" airplay. He later joined KSAN and changed his name to Tony Pigg.]
MICHAEL WANGER: What a strange idea.
JERRY GARCIA: Right, but nobody would and that's been our whole story all along behind the record company and it's relative apathy about us in terms of promotion and all that. And it's, like, partly our fault 'cause we don't really go out and hustle.
*Music - "That's it for the Other One"
MICHAEL WANGER: While recording their second album, they devised the concept of blending studio recordings with live performances in order to create a new form of continuity. This had an effect on their live performances in that instead of playing separate songs, they combined them together in a type of musical collage.
JERRY GARCIA: On the second album, ah, we were… we wanted to make a record. We didn't want to record songs, we wanted to make a record. You know, something that was in the medium of being a long playing record, that you put it on and it played out it's length of time and that's how long it lasted and that's what it did to you. And uh, we began to see that as being a form and it's akin to drama, ya know, to being able to start a thing and just going with it rather than having interruptions and breaks and so forth and so on. And we wanted to learn how to do that, so we learned the whole process of recording. We learned all about it, and we spent… and we had ideas that we wanted to do and we didn't know of any way to do them. We had to invent most of the technique that was used on that record just in the studio. You know, like, how can we make it sound as though the world's coming to an end. Or how can we make it sound like purple, you know, shit like that, stuff that's that far out. And we had to extract the shit from our head and figure out some way to implement it, if you know what I mean. It's mostly a matter of logistics, like three dimensional chess.
*Music (studio) - "Cryptical Envelopment"
JERRY GARCIA: When we recorded some of those things, we recorded some of them using an 8 track machine for the band, and then using a 4 track machine for the room, so that we had 4 tracks of the room, various parts of the perspective of the room, you know like one corner of it over here, one corner over here, one in the middle, done lots of different places, some at the Carousel, some on tours that we were on. And then we'd do things, like, in mastering we had the 8 track and the 4 track playing simultaneously. We'd be mixing them together, and cross fading them, you know, so as to get partly the sound of the band, partly the sound of the hall, reverberating you know. And it's just, like, extremely subtle and the only thing it does is give you a sense of enfolding space.
*Music (studio) - "Cryptical Envelopment" continues..
VANCE FROST: In producing the second album, "Anthem of the Sun," the group augmented their sound with the help of a classically trained musician, Tom Constaten (sic).
MICHAEL WANGER: ConSTATen.
[All this misguided emphasis on the pronunciation of Tom's last name is due to a misprint in the liner notes of the vinyl version of "Anthem of the Sun."]
VANCE FROST: After finishing his tour of duty with the Air Force, in November 1968, Tom became a full time member of the Grateful Dead. He plays keyboards, which lets Pigpen devote more of his talent and time to singing and harp playing. ConSTATen.
TOM CONSTANTEN: I knew Phil seven years ago when I was going to Berkeley. And we both got into a class with Luciano Berio. I was looking around for something to do and this the most interesting thing for me to get into. Mainly because I knew Phil, I knew Jerry. I knew what they were into musically and there was kind of a musical rapport.
*Music - "That's it for the Other One" continues..
RALPH J. GLEASON: Yeah, the way to listen to Phil Lesh on the album is to listen with stereo earphones.
JOHN CIPOLLINA: He's bridging the gap between the rhythm and the instrumentation.
BOB WEIR: He plays over a great deal of equipment, and pretty loud and very complex, very intricate and fast. About the most complex, intricate, and fastest of the bass players…
RALPH J. GLEASON: What they do is to play a continual solo.
BOB WEIR: (ahem) …goin' these days.
RALPH J. GLEASON: He's like a lot of the young jazz bass players of the last 7 or 8 years, in that he has no interest in playing 4/4 time. He plays a whole line which, of course, is in rhythm, but it's a whole line which is sort of contrapuntal to the theme of whatever is being done by the band at any given time.
BOB WEIR: And, uh, anyway, so, you can gather from that that Phil, at, at least one point, was a student of classical music.
PHIL LESH: I learned music theory in high school and college. I played instruments since I was 8 years old.
RALPH J. GLEASON: He's a fascinating musician to hear.
*Music - "New Potato Caboose"
JERRY GARCIA: Like in a lot of those places, we have some things like two or three different performances, live performances, all happening at the same time and we're cross fading. That's why some of that stuff is like a dream, you know. Like, you listen to a guitar run and it's, like, it goes somewhere and all of a sudden it ..like there's another part of it that's almost a continuation but not quite, you know, comin' from another place. We did that a lot in "The Other One," particularly.
*Music - "New Potato Caboose" continues..
*Music - "Born Cross-Eyed"
BOB WEIR: My song-writing career has been slowed up because I can't think of any decent words to sing. That's kind of gotten to me after the last album. You come to that particular point where you've written a song, and you hear it on the album and the words are so "nada." They don't really say anything, they're just, like I say, they're just a, they're something with which, a handle with which to carry a tune. And they could be ever so much more.
*Music - "Born Cross-Eyed" continues..
*Music - "Alligator"
JERRY GARCIA: Well, "Alligator" starts out studio. The whole first part of "Alligator" is studio. And as soon as… right at the end, as soon as the drums come in, that goes into live.
*Music - "Alligator" continues..
RALPH J. GLEASON: The drums have been a prisoner in rock bands. The drums have been a prisoner of 4/4 time with a back beat. And the Grateful Dead have solved this by adding another drummer. Now these two drummers take off and engage in incredible rhythmic interchanges and variations, not only with the other members of the band, but with each other and on the basic tune itself. It's a very free thing.
SPENCER DRYDEN: Each one of them are in their own bag. They're playing their own thing, and it's somehow related to what the original was, but they're not directly related to each other. Once you make the original statement, and you've got that nucleus going, then you can, like, start branching out of that and you can get very, very free. You don't have to play the time all the time to have the time moving.
JOHN CIPOLLINA: Their two drummers are really… spend all their time complimenting each other, becoming a unit.
DAVID FREIBERG: There aren't many groups that can play music that lift people off the floor. Whether they're sitting down or standing up, they're still about three inches off the floor.
*Music - "Alligator" continues..
SPENCER DRYDEN: And they're beautiful. And they're not afraid to look at each other. A lot of musicians today, they get on the stage and they're afraid to look at the next cat playing because they're uptight or they don't want to communicate with the other cat. They think it's all in their fingers. They're not using their head at all.
RALPH J. GLEASON: But rock music is a kind of music that you can get to play in the context of a group and get to play at an extraordinary level of communication.
SPENCER DRYDEN: And I see Mickey and Bill, or when I play with Mickey, we dig each other. You listen to what you're doing and you're smiling at each other, and it's like a good rapport, a good feeling between people. You're not afraid to play what you feel.
*Music - "Alligator" continues..
JOHN CIPOLLINA: Bill and Mickey really work together.
DAVID FREIBERG: They hang out together even.
JOHN CIPOLLINA: Yeah, they hang out together. There's a basic fundamental, right there. Those two.
BOB WEIR: And they get in phase together and they become like one drummer with eight arms, so to speak.
BILL KREUTZMANN: See, we're not trying to be two drummers.
MICKEY HART: Right.
BILL KREUTZMANN: We're trying to be one drummer with how many limbs there are amongst us.
JERRY GARCIA: Eight limbs.
RALPH J. GLEASON: And what they do with them is, as far as I'm concerned, add another dimension to the rhythmic possibilities.
*Music - "Alligator" continues..
RALPH J. GLEASON: The second album is a testimony of how the Grateful Dead progressed from a group of guys who were having a ball doing something, just really having a ball doing it, into a bunch of very serious musicians who are doing something musically very heavy. It may not please everyone to the same degree, and it may also be that everyone isn't interested in hearing heavy music. But that's a heavy album.
JERRY GARCIA: It's a stereo record.
VANCE FROST: Yeah, we know!
JERRY GARCIA: We worked on it to get you high, ya know, and that's what it's supposed to do, really. And that's what that record was about.
RALPH J. GLEASON: And whether or not, from their own standpoint, they successfully executed everything they thought to do in that album, the concept of that album is magnificent. Just like the concept of the [Jefferson] Airplane album, "Bathing at Baxter's" is a magnificent concept. Those things are very heavy albums. All of that music is serious music, but some of it is not taken as seriously in the doing as others. I thinks these albums are very serious albums. These people were down to serious business. Just as serious as Stockhausen.
*Music - "Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks)"
JERRY GARCIA: And this next album ["Aoxomoxoa"] is going to have lots of songs on it 'cause we've been into lots of songs lately. It's going to be mostly a vocal trip, really, just 'cause we've gotten into lyrics this time. And, at this point it's pretty amorphous. Like, we have lots of material, and we have much of it recorded, but we haven't decided exactly how to put it together, or exactly how we're going to present it, or whether it's gonna be a double album or a triple album or… 'Cause we've got, like, lots of different kinds of material. We have jam session stuff, we have all kinds of live scenes. Our material, at this point, is getting to be so interchangeable, that we can… it's getting to where we can do almost anything inside of anything else. What would be nicest would be able take one complete show with no editing and just say here it is, man.
MICHAEL WANGER: The perfect night.
JERRY GARCIA: Right, right. And it could happen and on the chance that it might happen sometime, we record.
BOB WEIR: And invariably, the really, the really good, perfect performances are never on tape which is, of course, the way it should be.
JERRY GARCIA: Like the latest trips that we're on is to do a thing that's like, uh, ya know, get some large unspecific sort of room and say, we're gonna do four hours, man, we're gonna do four or five hours of whatever we do, ya know, of everything that we can pull out of our hats. Like, really do a huge number that just goes on and on, man. It has millions of changes and goes millions of places.
*Music - "Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks)" continues..
VANCE FROST: Credits!
MICHAEL WANGER: For their voices, we thank Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Tom Constanten, Phil Lesh, Bill, the Drummer, and Ralph J. Gleason.
VANCE FROST: Mickey Hart, Mr. and Mrs. David Freiberg, John Cipollina, Spencer Dryden, Paul Kantner and Ralph J. Gleason.
MICHAEL WANGER: Special thanks to Baron Leo De Gar Kulka, Golden State Recorders, and Mike Larner.
VANCE FROST: This thing was written, produced and lovingly pieced together by Vance Frost and Michael Wanger.
*Music - "Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks)" continues..
RALPH J. GLEASON: I mean, they're not going to go on playing the same tunes the rest of their life, ya know. No musiciancan. It's built into music that you want to play different things and you want to have new experiences in the playing of music. Now, I think it's useful, in thinking of this kind of music, to consider the fact that these are musicians who are entering a new sphere in music. These are the real electronic composers. These are the people who are learning how to function in a combination of live performances, live recording in studios, and electronic application and electronic extensions of these things. And the Grateful Dead are experimenters.
DAVID FREIBERG: I love 'em! And that's far out.
SPENCER DRYDEN: Oh, I don't know. What about the Dead? It's a good band…
RALPH J. GLEASON: And that's because when you go to hear the Grateful Dead, it's almost guaranteed that you're gonna have a good time.
JOHN CIPOLLINA: And that's why, uh, I think a lot of people really go and see the Grateful Dead, time after time after time, is because they're really having fun.
SPENCER DRYDEN: Grateful Dead is like an attitude.
Paul Kantner: Well, that's what I… my general feelings are that you should go and listen to them and not talk about them.
JERRY GARCIA: Too weird.