Jerry’s Favorite Solo Studio Album

The “Days Between” which is sometimes referred to as the “Daze Between” is the period of time between Garcia’s birthday on August 1 and the anniversary of his untimely death on August 9, and oddly this is celebrated by many Deadheads.  Jerry was born in 1942, so if he would have lived, he would have been 79 today, but sadly he died from a heart attack in 1995 at the age of 53.  I have always felt a special connection with his as I was born on March 3rd in 1953, so we have the number 53 in common and since March is the third month and if you multiply that by the third day, you get 9.  Jerry has four children-all daughters and he had a dog named Cheyenne, a horse and a domesticated crow.  I was able to find a picture of Jerry where he appears to be holding one of his daughters and there is a Siamese cat in the photo also.

Jerry Garcia always kept himself busy performing and recording with his own groups, as well as being a guest on other albums with other groups.  In 1978, the Jerry Garcia Band recorded the album, Cats Under The Stars, which had poor sales, but Jerry said that he worked the hardest on this and he considered it to be a successful record, even though it never went anywhere, it remained Garcia’s favorite.  The album contained all new material that they did by themselves, which probably explains why Jerry was so proud of this album.  The same year that the Cats album was released the Grateful Dead played in Egypt.  Egyptians believed cats were magical creatures, capable of bringing good luck to the people who housed them.  To honor these treasured pets, wealthy families dressed them in jewels and fed them treats fit for royalty.  When the cats died, they were mummified.

Cats Under The Stars was Garcia’s fourth solo album and it peaked at #114 on the Billboard 200.  It was recorded between the Grateful Dead albums Terrapin Station and Shakedown Street, with Keith and Donna Godchaux, John Kahn, Merl Saunders, and Ron Tutt.  The title song ‘Cats Under The Stars’ has lyrics written by Robert Hunter, and Jerry Garcia composed the music.  The song is about someone who is restless at night, so he decides to go out for a walk.  There is not a hell of a lot going on as he takes this walk, until this satin blouse starts unbuttoning and you wonder if a lady is going to reveal her body, or if she is simply enjoying getting undressed.  That doesn’t seem to be the case here, as Hunter was only teasing everyone with that line about the satin blouse unbuttoning.  His next line is, “Time’s is doing it just for you – Time’s a stripper, doing it just for you”.  A lot of people try to interpret this line and I see it as time being the enemy that is capable of stripping everything from your life.   Starting in early 1989, Clarence Clemons sat in with both the Dead and the Jerry Garcia Band at several shows and he is featured on the video below.  It starts out a little dark and the camera is shaky in the beginning, but I think it is a great listen and this is my tribute to Jerry today for his birthday,

Cats down under the stars
Cats down under the stars

Cats on the blacktop, birdies in the treetop
Someone plays guitar that sounds like a clarinet
I ain’t ready yet, to go to bed
Think I’ll take a walk downtown instead

Cats down under the stars
Cats down under the stars

Cats in the limelight, feels like it’s all right
Everybody wants something they might not get
I ain’t ready yet, to go to bed
Think I’ll take a walk downtown instead

Cats down under the stars
Cats down under the stars

Cats on the bandstand, give ‘em each a big hand
Anyone who sweats like that must be all right
No one wants sometimes, no black eye
Just another cat beneath the stars tonight

Cats down under the stars
Cats down under the stars

Satin blouse unbuttoning
Satin blouse unbuttoning
Time’s is doing it just for you
Time’s a stripper, doing it just for you

Just for you
Just for you
Just for you
Just for you

Hammering the brass tacks, cover up you tracks, Jack
Ain’t nowhere till you can pay your own way back
What else do you lack to make it right
Cats down under the stars tonight?

Cats down under the stars
Cats down under the stars

Cats down under the stars
Cats down under the stars

I Want to Be Wanted

This is my first post today, even though I have been busy writing stuff for future posts.  I told my cousin that I needed to post something today so people don’t forget who I am, and she said, “You want to be wanted, that is a song”, and my cousin being 5 years older than I am, knows her oldies.   ‘I Want to Be Wanted’ was sung by Brenda Lee in 1960.  This song is about a lonely person who wants someone to fall in love with.  It was written by Kim Gannon, Alberto Testa and Pino Spotti.  It was originally an Italian song, Per tutta la vita (For all lifetime), written by Pino Spotti and Alberto Testa and it was included in the 1960 Greek romantic comedy film Never on Sunday.  The English lyrics were written by Kim Gannon.  It topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and remained there for one week.  This was Brenda Lee’s second number-one single, with her first being ‘I’m Sorry’.

Marilyn Monroe said, “It’s a terrible thing to be lonesome, especially in the middle of a crowd.”  The worst thing about being lonely is that you have no one to share anything with.  There is no one to comfort you when you are feeling down, no one is there to hold you, there is no shoulder to cry on and your bed is always empty every night.  You can cozy up with your cat or dog, but you will never have a satisfying conversation with them.

Alone so alone that I could cry
I want to be wanted
Alone watching lovers passing by
I want to be wanted

When I am kissed I want his lips to really kiss me
When we’re apart I want his heart to really miss me
I want to know he loves me so his eyes are misting
That’s the way I want to be loved

Alone just my lonely heart
Knows how I want to be wanted
Right now not tomorrow
But right now I want to be wanted

I want someone to share my laughter and my tears with
Someone I know I’d love to spend a million years with
Where is this someone somewhere meant for me

Just my lonely heart knows how
I want to be wanted
(Right now)
Not tomorrow but right now
I want to be wanted

I want someone to share my laughter and my tears with
Someone I know I’d love to spend a million years with
Where is this someone somewhere meant for me
(Someone somewhere)
Meant for me

Jerry Garcia Solo Career

Jerry Garcia had a remarkable career playing music outside of the Grateful Dead.  Garcia played pedal-steel guitar as a member of the New Riders of The Purple Sage from 1969 till November 7, 1971, although he did return as a guest a few times in the ensuing years, but Buddy Cage took over the pedal steel guitar.  In 1970, Garcia played pedal steel guitar on the Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young song ‘Teach Your Children’.  In 1970 John Kahn started to jam with Howard Wales at the Matrix, and then with Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders.

Jerry was involved in a twenty-five-year partnership with John Kahn.  Keyboardist Merl Saunders played with Garcia from December of 1970 to June of 1975, and they played over two-hundred and fifty shows together, mostly on the west coast.  Other band members included John Kahn on bass, Tom Fogerty on guitar and vocals, Sarah Fulcher on vocals, and multiple iterations of drummers that included Bill Vitt, Bill Kreutzmann, Paul Humphrey, and Ron Tutt.  Martin Fierro, Armando Peraza, and George Tickner rounded out the line-up from time to time.

From 1970 to 1972, Jerry Garcia and keyboardist Howard Wales played together around the bay area and on the east coast.  It was usually an instrumental jazz session with a lot of other influences thrown in.  Sometimes they played as a trio, including Bill Vitt on drums, and other times a bassist, such as Richard Favis or John Kahn, would sit in on the session.  Howard Wales wrote all of the material for the 1972 Hooteroll? Album

Old & In the Way was a bluegrass group that formed in 1973.  It was composed of Peter Rowan on guitar, Vassar Clements on fiddle, Jerry Garcia on banjo, David Grisman on mandolin, and John Kahn on bass.  Garcia had not played banjo seriously for many years before picking up this instrument again.  Old And In The Way were only together for only a handful of shows and they stopped playing by the end of 1973.  In 1974, the Great American String Band was formed which was an eclectic acoustic group whose members included variations of Jerry on banjo and guitar, David Grisman, Richard Greene, Taj Mahal on bass and vocals, Sandy Rothman on guitar and vocals, guitarist/singer David Nichtern, and bassist Buell Neidlinger.  Although the band consisted of three Old and in the Way members, bluegrass was not a strong influence on their sound.  They were more of a blues/swing jazz ensemble.

Jerry Garcia recorded his second solo LP in 1974 which was titled Compliments Of Garcia and it was produced by John Kahn.  It was comprised of cover songs other than one song written by John Kahn and another by Robert Hunter.  The Saunders/Garcia Band produced several albums, and then they became The Legion of Mary with the addition of Martin Fierro (sax) in the beginning of December of 1974.  The core members of the group were Garcia, Saunders, and John Kahn, along with Martin Fierro on saxophone and flute, and Ron Tutt who was also the drummer for Elvis Presley.  Legion of Mary put extra emphasis on jazz influences, which allowed Saunders to make showcase his talents on the B3 Hammond.  The band never recorded a studio album; however, several live sets have seen been released.  Legion of Mary performed less than 60 dates, and John Kahn came up with the name and everyone agreed on it, as Saunders and Garcia were both happy because they didn’t have to use their names anymore.

The group played together until the summer of 1975, and in early-1976 the Jerry Garcia Band became Garcia’s main performing group when the Grateful Dead were off the road.  In the period between the end of Legion Of Mary and the beginning of the Jerry Garcia Band with Nicky Hopkins (JGB #1), Garcia played a few dates with the Keith and Donna Band.  A few of them were billed as The Jerry Garcia Band.  Kahn was also a member of the original Jerry Garcia Band lineup along with drummer Ron Tutt and keyboardist Nicky Hopkins.

The Jerry Garcia Band featured Garcia, Kahn and Tutt, with keyboardist Keith Godchaux and vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux.  Tutt left the band just before the 1978 album Cats Under The Stars was released.  The Garcia Band album had dismal sales, and at this time the onstage contribution of pianist Keith Godchaux had significantly declined.  Since Keith and Donna Godchaux were members of both the Grateful Dead and the Jerry Garcia Band, Garcia started thinking about replacing Keith and Donna in the Dead and the Garcia Band.

The Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band existed as a performing group between March of 1987 and July of 1988.  This group was made up of Jerry Garcia, David Nelson, and Sandy Rothman who had all originally performed together in the early 1960s.  These three plus John Kahn performed a six-song set of acoustic music at a benefit concert at the Fillmore in March 1987.  The same group, now billed as the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, performed an opening acoustic set at a Jerry Garcia Band show that same year.  This arrangement of acoustic followed by electric sets was used for Jerry Garcia Band shows for a time, numbering thirty-one shows in total.  Jerry Garcia appeared on saxophonist Ornette Coleman’s 1988 album, Virgin Beauty.

The Jerry Garcia Band disbanded, but in 1979 Kahn and Garcia continued to play together in the band Reconstruction, with a line-up of Jerry Garcia (guitar, vocals), Merl Saunders (keyboards, vocals), John Kahn (bass), Ed Neumeister (trombone), Ron Stallings (tenor saxophone, vocals) and Gaylord Birch (drums).  Other musicians may have sat in with the group toward the end of 1979.  The group played just over 50 shows during 1979, all on the West Coast.  The group  Reconstruction was a Bay Area jazz-funk ensemble formed by John Kahn that featured Jerry Garcia on lead guitar and vocals.  The group only existed in 1979, and they played a handful of shows without Garcia.  As a result, the group is known as an iteration of the Jerry Garcia Band, rather than as a stand-alone ensemble.

In 1990, keyboardist and composer Merl Saunders had a vision, while visiting with a friend who had just returned from the Amazon.  Merl assembled a group of musicians that included Jerry Garcia and Muruga Booker.  Merl dubbed this sound “environmental earth music,” and Blues From the Rainforest – A Musical Suite was created.

The Art of Love

In the 1950s, Wanda Jackson was a pioneering female rocker who recorded a number of classic singles and she enjoyed the mentoring of Elvis Presley who encouraged her to branch out into the fast-developing rockabilly genre, but none of her records became hits.  Wanda Jackson wasn’t afraid to step outside the prim confines of a woman’s place in pop and cross into rock and roll singing with wild, reckless abandon.  At age 73, Jackson mounted a comeback with the album The Party Ain’t Over (2011), which was produced by Jack White of the White Stripes, and she followed that with Unfinished Business (2012).  In 2019 Jackson announced that she was retiring from performing, citing “health and safety” issues, and it was later revealed that she had suffered a stroke the previous year.  Wanda Jackson was called the Queen of Rockabilly and she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.

Ovid the Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus wrote a guide on the art of seduction in his three-book series The Art of Love.  This playfully instructed women in the art of seduction and men in the skills essential for mastering the art of romantic conquest.  On Bob Dylan’s 32nd studio album Modern Times, which was released in 2006, he references this work by Ovid in his song ‘Thunder on the Mountain’.  Modern Times became Dylan’s first #1 album in the U.S. since Desire which he released 30 years earlier in 1976.  At age 65, Dylan became the oldest living person at the time to have an album enter the Billboard charts at #1.  The record didn’t last that long, as when Neil Diamond was 67 in 2008 his Home Before Dark album reached #1.  Modern Times was self-produced by Dylan under the pseudonym “Jack Frost”, and it received acclaim, but also sparked some debate over its uncredited use of choruses and arrangements from older songs, as well as many lyrical lines taken from the work of 19th-century poet Henry Timrod.

Dylan said that he remembered seeing Alicia Keys at the 2001 Grammy awards, when Keys was a five-times winner with her album Songs in A Minor and Dylan won Best Contemporary Folk Album with Love and Theft.  Dylan said that he was on the show with her, but he didn’t meet her.  Although he said to himself, “There’s nothing about that girl I don’t like.”  Keys was 39 years his junior and it appears that Dylan must have done some research on her discovering that she raised in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York.  Bob Dylan and Jack White struck up a friendship in 2007 and when Jack White produced Wanda Jackson’s 2011 album The Party Ain’t Over which peaked at #17 on Top Rock Albums.  White suggested that Jackson should record the Bob Dylan rockabilly song ‘Thunder on the Mountain’.  Jackson replaced Dylan’s Alicia Keys reference with a more appropriate Jerry Lee Lewis and his hometown of Ferriday, Louisiana.

Thunder on the mountain, fires on the moon
There’s a ruckus in the alley and the sun will be here soon
Today’s the day, gonna grab my trombone and blow
Well, there’s hot stuff here and it’s everywhere I go

I was thinkin’ ‘bout Alicia Keys, couldn’t keep from crying
When she was born in Hell’s Kitchen, I was living down the line
I’m wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be
I been looking for her even clear through Tennessee

Feel like my soul is beginning to expand
Look into my heart and you will sort of understand
You brought me here, now you’re trying to run me away
The writing’s on the wall, come read it, come see what it say

Thunder on the mountain, rolling like a drum
Gonna sleep over there, that’s where the music coming from
I don’t need any guide, I already know the way
Remember this, I’m your servant both night and day

The pistols are poppin’ and the power is down
I’d like to try somethin’ but I’m so far from town
The sun keeps shinin’ and the North Wind keeps picking up speed
Gonna forget about myself for a while, gonna go out and see what others need

I’ve been sitting down studying the art of love
I think it will fit me like a glove
I want some real good woman to do just what I say
Everybody got to wonder what’s the matter with this cruel world today

Thunder on the mountain rolling to the ground
Gonna get up in the morning walk the hard road down
Some sweet day I’ll stand beside my king
I wouldn’t betray your love or any other thing

Gonna raise me an army, some tough sons of bitches
I’ll recruit my army from the orphanages
I been to St. Herman’s church and I’ve said my religious vows
I’ve sucked the milk out of a thousand cows

I got the pork chops, she got the pie
She ain’t no angel and neither am I
Shame on your greed, shame on your wicked schemes
I’ll say this, I don’t give a damn about your dreams

Thunder on the mountain heavy as can be
Mean old twister bearing down on me
All the ladies of Washington scrambling to get out of town
Looks like something bad gonna happen, better roll your airplane down

Everybody’s going and I want to go too
Don’t wanna take a chance with somebody new
I did all I could and I did it right there and then
I’ve already confessed, no need to confess again

Gonna make a lot of money, gonna go up north
I’ll plant and I’ll harvest what the earth brings forth
The hammer’s on the table, the pitchfork’s on the shelf
For the love of God, you ought to take pity on yourself

Family Friendly

John Fogerty released a new CD at the end of 2020 which began as informal, lockdown-inspired jams and turned into a family album.  The Covid-19 production was composed with a band made up of his three youngest children, 28-year-old Shane, Tyler who is 27, and the youngest Kelsy at 18.  Shane and Tyler play in a band of their own, Hearty Har, and Kelsy is a college freshman who began playing guitar during her last years in high school.  Fogerty’s Factory is a nod, in both its title and on its cover, to the 50th anniversary of Cosmo’s FactoryThe idea for this record came from his wife and manager Julie Fogerty who thought that this music could be healing and useful as an antidote to the pandemic that everyone was experiencing.  They don’t have a drummer, but Shane has developed a bass style that’s somewhat percussive and Kelsy played some snare drum.  John tried to have fun, while quarantined at Northern California home by recording music with his kids.  The idea for this post came from choosingmyperspective.

Inextricably Tied to the Road

In mid-March of 1970, the Grateful Dead set off on tour, accompanied for the first time by Hunter, who had concluded that the band needed a road song, and that he needed to see the road to write the song.  Hunter, Garcia, Lesh, and Weir sat around a pool in Florida during this road trip and Hunter pulled out his almost finished ‘Truckin’’ lyrics which he’d been working on for months, inspired by their bust in New Orleans.  Their guitars were within grabbing distance, so Garcia, Lesh, and Weir set music to this song in about a half-hour.  The band was scheduled to play several shows in Florida, but some of the dates changed, leaving them time to sit around and write, rather than coming and going to and from various venues.  The Grateful Dead were supposed to perform two shows at Pirate’s World, in Dania, FL, just North of Miami, but somehow, they got combined into one show on March 24, 1970.  The band was able to finish writing most of ‘Truckin’’ while sitting by the pool at the motel that they were staying in for these Pirates World shows.  They had a free afternoon, which made it possible for them to work on the final verses of ‘Truckin’’ and it was most likely finished on 3/23/70.

The Grateful Dead hit the road again after their Pirate’s World show as they were scheduled to play one show sometime between Friday-Sunday, March 27, 28 or 29, 1970 at the Winter’s End Festival, in Miami, FL and this is why they came to Florida in the first place.  Robert Hunter said that the lyrics, “Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me” came from Phil.  It took Hunter a couple of months to write these lyrics starting off in San Francisco and finishing it up in Florida and he was amazed that it only took the guys about half an hour to put all the music together.  In ‘Truckin’’, the band sings about getting “Busted, down on Bourbon Street”, which just happened less than two months earlier.  When they sing, “Dallas, got a soft machine, Houston, too close to New Orleans”, their February schedule shows that they just played Dallas on Feb 20, well it was actually in nearby Fort Worth and they were in Houston on Feb 22 just the month before.  And as for “Truckin’, up to Buffalo”, they had just played in Buffalo less than a week before they wrote this song.  Workingman’s Dead was recorded in February of 1970 and released on June 14, 1970, so ‘Truckin’’ had to wait for American Beauty, which was recorded between August and September of 1970 and released in November.  ‘Truckin’’ became inextricably tied to, the Grateful Dead’s experience as a touring band, becoming an autobiographical song, with the lyrics being reflections on real events that happened out on the road.

The first few months of 1970 were tumultuous for the Grateful Dead.  They had been all over the country, involved in a New Orleans drug bust on January 31, their organ player Tom Constanten had parted ways with the band by mutual agreement, they found out that their manager absconded with a great deal of their money and they had to fire him, they hired Rock Scully as their new road manager and recorded a successful album, which became #27 on the Billboard album chart, marking the first time they’d cracked the Top Forty.  By the 8th of March, they had already played 34 shows.  The jamming part of ‘Truckin’’ had its roots in the ‘Nobody’s Fault but Mine’ blues riff song which was first recorded by gospel blues artist Blind Willie Johnson in 1927.  This song is about a man that is trying to stay ahead of the evil which is pursuing him and it is clear that he will be doomed, unless he uses his abilities to learn biblical teachings.  The band played this song a couple of times in 1970, but they didn’t play it again until fall ’72, when the ‘Nobody’s’ jam became a pretty standard follower to the ‘Truckin’’ jam, sometimes with lyrics, sometimes not.  Led Zeppelin included this song on their 1976 Presence album.  There is also a Chuck Berry ‘School Days’ influence in this song.

Truckin’ was originally a Harlem dance step in the ‘20s and ‘30s, that was referred to in blues songs like Blind Boy Fuller’s ‘Truckin’ My Blues Away’ that features the lyrics, “Keep on truckin’ mama, truckin’ my blues away.”  Hot Tuna later rechristened this song in 1972 as ‘Keep on Truckin’ Mama’ on their album Burgers.)   The Mills Blue Rhythm Band recorded a jazz foxtrot called Truckin’ in 1935, with the lyrics “All over town you’ll see them truckin’ along…everybody’s truckin’.”  The American cartoonist and musician Robert Crumb was inspired by this old blues song to draw his comic “Keep On Truckin’”, which was published in the first issue of Zap Comix in 1968.  The cartoon consists of an assortment of men, leaning back while strutting their stuff confidently forward and this spawned the catchphrase “Keep on Truckin’”, that was picked up by the hippie generation.  Hunter may refer to Crumb’s big-footed men in the line “keep truckin’ like the doo-dah man” (though he later said, “Oh, that’s just from the Stephen Foster song ‘Camptown Races’, that goes “Camptown ladies sing dis song, Doo-dah! doo-dah!”

Hunter said that the verse about sweet Jane where it goes, “What in the world ever became of Sweet Jane?  She lost her sparkle, you know she isn’t the same”, was lifted from a 1948 toothpaste commercial and this portion of the lyrics was written as a way of poking fun at 1940s radio commercials.  It is kind of sad that Millicent never got kissed, because she wasn’t using Pepsodent.
Poor Millicent, poor Millicent,
She never used Pepsodent
Her smile grew dim
And she lost her vim
So folks don’t be like Millicent
Use Pepsodent!

Let There Be Songs to Fill the Air

The Grateful Dead song ‘Ripple’ is a welcome reminder that better days are ahead of us and that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and eventually this Covis-19 coronavirus will be over and the joy of music will, once again, fill the air.  In celebration of the American Beauty (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) album, the Grateful Dead have released a new music video for ‘Ripple’ which was animated by Actuality Films.  The video shows a table of tarot cards which launches the viewer into a mystical world.  Throughout the video, the protagonist, The Fool wanders through the spiritual space, The World, aided by The Star, The Moon, and The Sun.  As The Fool journeys through this otherworldly experience, he meets characters such as The Devil, The Magician, and The Empress, who guide him along.  According to a press release, “the video also conceals a myriad of Easter eggs drawn from Grateful Dead lyrics and lore.”

Garcia constructed the pure and humble melody for ‘Ripple’ that matched Hunter’s lyrics when they were in Canada on the 1970 Festival Express train trip.  One morning the train stopped and Jerry sat on the tracks in the sunrise, and put the finishing touches to this tune.  The original studio version of ‘Ripple’ featured a static Alice In Wonderland theme.  If you would like to learn more about this song, you can read my old post here.

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they’re better left unsung
I don’t know, don’t really care
Let there be songs to fill the air

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of men

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall you fall alone
If you should stand then who’s to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home

Another Grateful Dead Keyboardist Gone

With profound sadness, I want to report that the Grateful Dead family lost a true pioneer this week, as Howard Wales died today, Tuesday, December 8th, 2020 at the age of 77.  Howard Wales played on American Beauty, organ on ‘Candyman’, and ‘Truckin’’ and piano on ‘Brokedown Palace’.  Howard had done session work with James Brown, the Four Tops, Lonnie Mack, Ronnie Hawkins, Freddie King, The Coasters and others.  Jerry once claimed that “Howard was so incredible, and we were just hanging on for dear life.  For some reason, Howard enjoyed playing with us, but we were just keeping up.  Howard was so outside.  For both of us that was a wonderful experience… Playing with Howard did more for my ears than anybody I ever played with because he was so extended and so different.  His approach was all extensions and very keyboardistic; not guitaristic.”

Towards the tail end of the ‘60s, Garcia was introduced to a Hammond B3 player by the name of Howard Wales, who held jam sessions every Monday night at the Matrix on Fillmore Street in San Francisco.  Jerry started coming down more regularly to play along, and these ad hoc gatherings resulted in what would eventually become the Jerry Garcia Band.  Drummer Bill Vitt and bassist John Kahn along with Howard and Jerry made a recording from one of the nights in 1970 at the Matrix which was released in October 1998 as the Garcia/Wales album, Side Trips, Volume One.  In 1971 the studio album entitled Hooteroll? Was made which became a joint effort of experimental jazz that rose as a beacon of Garcia’s studio prowess and abilities outside the Dead.  At the time, Warner Brothers grew tired of the Grateful Dead, so Garcia released a side project titled Hooteroll? with keyboardist Howard Wales on another label.  Garcia continued to play with Wales through around January 1972. After Pigpen passed away, Wales tried out to be a member of the Grateful Dead but his style didn’t fit the group.

It’s All About the

In their 1963 single ‘Surfin’ Bird’, the surf-rock garage band The Trashmen sang:
“A well a don’t you know about the bird?
Well, everybody knows that the bird is the word!
A well a bird, bird, b-bird’s the word.”

The song was inspired by two contemporary songs by the doo-wop group The Rivingtons, those being ‘Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow’ and ‘Bird is the Word’.  The bird refers to a dance craze in the 1960s.  To do the bird you face your partner.  Place your feet together with knees slightly bent, and your body slightly forward, and your arms (become your wings) stretched out horizontally with your elbows bent.  Flap your wings while you are pushing your hands down and your elbows up at the same time, then do this in reverse.  Meanwhile you raise your heels alternately and in rapid motion, then you occasionally hop forward (girls hop backwards while you are going forward) and then this is done in reverse.  Clap your hands, kick your right foot out with your heel touching the floor while you are pivoting your left foot a quarter turn to the left, all the time keeping your wings flapping.  Repeat this three times, then return to your original direction.  (Girls do same, but kick their left foot, pivot their right foot and do their quarter turn to the right.  Hey, nobody ever said that this dance was easy!

The Minneapolis group known as The Trashmen noticed that these two songs sounded alike, so they mashed them together in a live performance.  A DJ at the show brought them into the studio to record the mashup under the title ‘Surfin’ Bird’.  The Rivingtons sued the Trashmen for plagiarism and now they are credited as the writers of this song.  While The Trashmen’s inspiration for ‘Surfin’ Bird’ is well-documented, the exact origin and meaning of the saying bird is the word is less clear.  Bird has carried many slang connotations throughout its history, from “prostitute” to “the middle finger”.  In the context of the song, “the word” meant the best, something that is cool, or hip, and later on this phrase evolved into meaning, “I really agree with what you just said”.  “Bird is the word” may characterize something that is good, cool, or new, but to me, it always makes me think about turkey.

The Rivingtons formed in the early 60s in Los Angeles, California, and this doo-wop group is mostly known for these two hits.  The group consisted of lead vocalist Carl White, Al Frazier, Sonny Harris and Rocky Wilson Jnr all of whom had previously worked as backing vocalists on recordings by Paul Anka, Duane Eddy and Thurston Harris, as the Sharps.  The song ‘Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow’ is composed of primarily of nonsense syllables and it features a deep bass voice which is accompanied by the rest of the group’s divine vocal harmonies.  The phrase “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” reportedly came to Wilson while he was in jail, following a fight a fellow inmate supposedly whispered this in his ear.  This song reached #48 in 1962 and it was later covered by the Beach Boys.

The Trashmen were made up of lead guitarist Tony Andreason, guitarist and vocalist Dan Winslow, bassist Bob Reed and drummer Steve Wahrer.  The Trashmen’s ‘Surfin’ Bird’ peaked at #4 on the Billboard charts, later inspiring fun or ironic covers by popular performers from The Ramones to Pee-wee Herman.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, don’t eat too much turkey and try to stay safe.

I Took the Deadhead Quiz

Supposedly there are all sorts of levels of being a Deadhead, and some people will call themselves Deadheads because they wear a tie-dye tee shirt and go to a show or two.  The Grateful Dead have not been a band for 25 years now, so who are these people to judge me?   Being a Deadhead is about appreciating the music and it should have nothing to do with twirling instead of dancing, or living in a van, or sometimes someone else’s van.  I was rated a part-time Deadhead by the survey and they told me that I never really lived the lifestyle full time, but I thought that most of the questions were stupid.

Do you twirl when you dance?
I don’t think so.
What? No.

How many Dead Shows have you gone to?
Over 100

Do you have a song list in your wallet right now?
No, but I used to.
No, I have never done that.
I don’t know what you are talking about.

What is your favorite Dead song?
“Dire Wolf”
“Dark Star”
“Shakedown Street”

Ever go to a show and ask for a miracle?
All the time
No, I always had tickets.

Have you ever sold grilled cheese sandwiches at a show to make money?
Sure, gotta get by somehow.
Once or twice.
No, I always had money.
Umm. No.

Ever sell anything else at a show to make money?
What are you, a cop?
Who wants to know?
No, but I have bought some stuff like that.
No way.

Is Trey a better guitarist than Jerry?
I am going to pretend you didn’t say that.
No way

How into balloons are you?
Totally into them!
I used to be.
Not at all.
Balloons? You mean at kids’ parties?

Do you mind sleeping on the couch of someone you don’t know?
No, it is actually kind of fun.
It is a little uncomfortable.
That doesn’t sound fun.
That sounds awful.

Have you ever gone on tour?
More than once.
Yes, once
A tour of what?

Do you like punk music?
No way man.
Not really.
It is okay.
I love it!

What would you do at a Dead Concert if someone was in your seat?
Seats? I don’t want a seat.
It wouldn’t bother me.
I would ask them politely to leave.
I would ask security to deal with it.

Do you like patchouli?
I love that stuff!
It is pretty cool.
Not really.
I don’t know. What is it?

Did you used to buy a lot of blank tapes?
Quite a few.
No, I have never done that.
Why would I do that?

Have you ever hitchhiked?
Sure, I have done that a lot.
Maybe once.
No, that is not safe.

Do you say “kind” a lot?
All the time.
I used to.
Not really.

Have you ever used “?” as your occupation on a form.
Yeah, all the time.
I have before.
No, I have always worked or gone to school.
Why would I do that?

How excited do you get when “Alligator” gets played?
So excited!
Pretty excited.
Ehh, that isn’t my favorite.
I don’t know it.

Does your car have a ton of Dead stickers on it?
I don’t have a car.
Yeah, all sorts.
It has a few.

Have you ever called in sick to go to a Dead Show?
No, but I have quit my job.
Yes, more than once.
No, but I thought of it.
No way.

What do you do when the bus comes by?
Get on man!
See if they can give me a ride.
I am not sure.
I don’t need a bus, I have a car.

How often do you wear tie-dye?
All the time.
Only during shows.

Do you like veggie burritos?
Love them!
They are pretty good.
They are okay.
Not at all.

Have you ever told someone about “The Deadhead way?”
Of course.
I think I have.
I don’t think so.
I have no idea what you are talking about.

Do you like it when Bob sings?
Yeah, he is awesome.
Yeah, but Jerry is better.
Not really.
Who is Bob?

Do you miss Pigpen?
Yeah man, he was awesome.
Not so much.
I don’t really remember him.
You mean the character from “Peanuts”?

Has it been a long strange trip?
Sometimes it seems that way.
Not so much.
Has what been a long strange trip?

How much product do you use in your hair?
I have never used product.
I rarely use it.
A fair amount.
I use a ton.

Do you think long hair looks good on people?
Yeah, it looks awesome.
It looks pretty cool.
It depends on the person.
Not at all.

I ran across this cool video with Tom Davis and Jerry Garcia in the kitchen for “Cooking with Jerry,” from the Grateful Dead’s Ticket to New Year’s DVD.

Another video surfaced, a segment with Mickey dressed as Spock and Jerry as Santa.