Hollywood Palladium - Hollywood, CA
Set 1: Bertha, Greatest
Story Ever Told, Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, Black
Throated Wind, Bird Song, Promised Land, Deal, El Paso, Sugaree,
Playing In The Band, Casey Jones
Set 2: He's Gone >
Truckin', Ramble On Rose, Beat It On Down The Line, Dark Star* >
Drums > Jack Straw* > Sing Me Back Home*, Sugar Magnolia*, E:
One More Saturday Night
E Road Feeling Bad > Hey Bo Diddley, Not Fade Away
I had already dressed appropriately, and
done the proper purifications & propitiations, so I went in to
the sanctum, touched the Play button, and sat down to receive the
revelation from 9-10-72.
I was not long in waiting.
The first session was nice
enough, though I'll admit little stood out to me; harmonies were no
better than usual, energy moderate, and I find no real complaint in
the fact that "Bertha" is missing everything before
Jerry's solo. It doesn't help that a dozen digital pops pervade the
first few songs; I thought that was a thing of the past!? Ah well;
enlightenment doesn't come in the sudden rush we might expect.
The first set is merely
fine before "Playing in the Band". PITB itself, though is
another story: really, the fact that's it's 20 minutes long during
the Fall 1972 tour says plenty in itself. The jam is more of a
simmer than a boil (no "Tiger" to bring things to a
point). All the same, Jerry eventually finds himself hammering on a
single note through the wah pedal, as the band crests beside him.
Afterward, they wind up peaking *again* in a similar manner. Only
then do we get the outro; Donna clears some dust with a wail, and
we're done. "Casey Jones" follows the "Bertha"
example of missing the first verses, but shows huge energy on its
This was all very fine, but
not the Enlightenment to which I was referring above; for that, we
must address the second session. After further propitiations and
purifications, we again enter the temple, and the second session
Immediately we perceive its
greater worth: "He's Gone" finds the band truly mining the
mood in its long outro jam, showing them in no hurry to get on to
the next song. Well worth the listen, though it's a shame the piano
isn't mixed a little louder. When they do get to another song
["Truckin'"], enlightenment comes again and again: they
stretch out for a few, reprise the chorus, and return with a small
jam after the vocals leave off. This finally concludes with a bluesy
ending I haven't heard elsewhere.
"Ramble On" finds
Keith taking a little more presence than before, with the occasional
trill or chromatic run. More importantly, the whole band gets behind
this song -- Bobby is particularly active (and very audible) --
fueling Jerry's strong singing. "Beat it on Down the Line"
begins rather comically -- either there wasn't clear agreement on
how many beats were to start off the song, or someone forgot. The
resulting confusion is rather goofy, but nonetheless pulled off with
panache; it may well be the highlight of this performance's karmic
importance. Enlightenment is like that sometimes!
Unlike what is given in the
Deadbase scripture, my session then includes a "Black
Peter". This benefits from the sensitivity wrought earlier in
"Ramble On", yielding delicate singing from Jerry. Notice
that his solo begins in pinched harmonics [more usually heard on the
solo in another song "Loser"]; he seems to give this up as
too much effort, and finishes out with the more common straight
notes. Still, an interesting & appropriate application of the
pinched-harmonic technique. Another mixed karma: the ragged
harmonies in the bridge section mar an otherwise beautiful moment.
But all this has been only
prelude: we then begin the Real Journey, announced by four notes
familiar to Dead heads everywhere. For the next thirty minutes, they
occupy and explore their private musical terrain with that rare
combination of grace and intensity that characterizes their best
performances. David Crosby joins the boys, but doesn't use his
voice; he simply proves his ability to sit in as though a natural
member of the band. Incredibly, he proves a perfect addition --
adding Bobby-like decorations throughout "Dark Star", and
even into the songs that follow. A preternatural presence hangs over
all of it -- as if a sixth sense, previously blocked but now open,
is adding another dimension to our perceiving. And our new
perception is amazed as well.
Sitting alone in the
Temple, I could not believe my ears -- despite my familiarity with
1972 Dead, despite having heard the 1975 jams with Crosby. This is
the Real Thing, folks: the Band Beyond Description, Jehovah's (and
our) Favorite Choir. It would be useless to analyze, pointless to
describe. This is simply one of the most amazing stretches of
performance they ever wrought, and there is no replacement for
I left the Temple in a
daze; the sun setting in rosy clouds to the West. How could I
possibly explain? Would anyone believe me? Would anyone even care?
Did it matter? Probably not; after all, Enlightenment is only to the
benefit of the Enlightened, and entirely subjective a benefit at
that. But there's no turning back now; my eyes have been opened; my
ears unplugged. A door long gone in mortal time has been opened --
has been waiting ajar -- and we need only look through; what you may
see there is up to you.
Ramble On Joe ©
the Grateful Dead's concert performance on
9/10/72, at the Hollywood Palladium - Hollywood, CA.