The table was set, but after the aliens landed, it caused so much panic that nobody came to the supper table. In 1972, Jerry Garcia came out with his self-titled album/CD Jerry Garcia which was more like a Grateful Dead album than a Jerry Garcia Band solo release. Jerry Garcia played all of the instruments on this including acoustic guitar, electric guitar, pedal steel guitar, bass, piano, organ, samples, and vocals along with Bill Kreutzmann handling the drums. Only two of the songs were ever performed by the Jerry Garcia Band on a regular basis, ‘Deal’ and ‘Sugaree’ and both of these songs were performed by the Grateful Dead along with the four other songs ‘Bird Song’, ‘Loser’, ‘To Lay Me Down’ and ‘The Wheel’ from this CD which were regular concert rotations for the Grateful Dead. There is also a rather spacey and curious instrumental suite that is made up of three songs ‘Late for Supper’, ‘Spidergawd’ and ‘Eep Hour’, whose meanings are anybody’s guess, as I have listened to them many times and they are still supremely unclear.
When I looked at Sadje’s picture prompt today, it made me think about ‘Late for Supper’ and I wanted to hear this song again. Garcia takes two totally separate and distinct paths with this suite, as one is sort of country-ish, folk-rock style and the other is this far more progressive, experimental reaching for new modes and new ways of expression like the far-out dude that he was. I have heard some people say that this song is unlistenable, but maybe you just have to be very stoned to appreciate this kind of weirdness.
I have also heard that ‘Late For Supper’ and ‘Spidergawd’ being described as sounding like a a spidery rake of piano innards soon followed by electronically-processed piano that erupt and resound like a super echoed gong, threading into pre-recorded sound loops, disembodied TV voices and percussion of a quietly freaky nature that crossfades together and into the majestic ‘Eep Hour’. This same person said that it was like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins meeting Island-period Eno (a time when the British musician Brian Eno became interested in tape recorders and their potential as musical devices) being on Quaaludes. They went on to say this piano-led and cobwebbed waltz is resplendent with spook-o-rific organ that soon parts for the entry of a truly yearning pedal steel riff (No, wait: not ‘riff’ — it’s far too beautiful to be called anything except the musical equivalent of compassionate optimism facing of the future). Well, I guess this cat must have been smoking some really good stuff when he wrote that.
Written for Sadje at Keep It Alive What Do You See #78.