A Pig, A Cowboy and The Other One

Here are two little jewels and something altogether different from Casey, for your listening pleasure.

Ron McKernan, aka “Pigpen”, was the prime mover in ensuring The Warlocks became an electric rock band and his R’n’B raps were an essential part of the Grateful Dead experience. He went on this tour against doctors’ advice, making the words of Good Lovin’ uncomfortably apt (Doctor, Doctor, Mr. MD, can you tell me what’s ailing me?). Despite his health, he’s the one that gets the band in gear on more than one night. Robert Hunter wrote Mr. Charlie for him, as an affectionate tribute to those songs with nonsense choruses (Chuba, Chuba, Wooly Bully). Pigpen was also quite fond of cocaine.

El Paso is Marty Robbins’ tale of love, betrayal and murder, with a narrator who dies at the end. It’s a Tex-Mex confection, served with a glittering side order of Garcia. And played quite often as an interlude to…

The Other One. This version was played in a TV studio in Bremen, at the end of an 80-minute set from which a song would be selected for broadcast (the station selected a short song, unsurprisingly). This is Casey’s real treasure, for me, when the band takes the music in directions rarely explored. Billy has just played a drum solo which sets up the opening rhythm for the song so, when everyone joins in, that’s the speed they run at. But Garcia wants to slow it down and, later, he just fancies seeing what will happen if he tries this or this or that… It’s the way the others deal with his ideas that it so wonderful: sometimes acquiescing, sometimes fighting, sometimes just going in a different direction. But, when Bobby finally agrees to sing the second verse, everything comes together again. The song ends officially at that point but Garcia still has ideas to try…

21 thoughts on “A Pig, A Cowboy and The Other One

  1. Yes I did…and I enjoyed this too – thanks a lot! I specially liked El Paso, because that’s a song I love but I can’t abide Marty Robbins.

    I’m afraid I zoned out a bit during The Other One. Yes, I know, but I’m on the whisky now. Will try again!

  2. You were right Chris, I did enjoy that greatly, thanks!

    You know, I usually do listen to the ‘Dead tracks that you post on here and I usually dig what I hear, but I find it difficult to express anything more intelligent than “I really liked that”. But, I suppose that’s what’s important before any in-depth analysis!

    A couple more tracks like that and I might even be persuaded to start my own collection…….!

    • Yippee! Someone does think my children are attractive!

      Seriously, it’s great to get positive feedback for a ‘jam’ song, panther. tfd has been endearingly supportive of some of the songs, being similarly mono-fixated, but it looks like she may be struggling with such lack of form/tune. It probably takes a dedicated noise junkie like yourself to hear what’s going on.

      Two (almost) complete shows from the ’72 tour are on Spotify (having been released a few years ago as Rockin’ The Rhein and Hundred Year Hall). If you enjoy the more exploratory stuff, check out the Dark Star sequence from the former and The Other One (mis-titled as Cryptical Envelopment) from the latter. There are passages of ennui and ineptitude in both but also much ‘wtf?’ music. And many performances of Good Lovin’ and Playin’ In The Band on the tour contain aural magic.

      • No, no, sorry, sorry…. (I can’t afford to upset tfd!) …… I took your last comment and the ensuing silence as an indication of reduced interest in TOO.

      • I do have other things to do you know. Plus, since we’re on it, I object to the word ‘endearingly’. I like the Dead, OK? Nothing endearing about it.

  3. Goes without saying that I have enjoyed the latest instalment. The bass intro to the other one has always been one of my favourite five seconds of music. That’s what I love about the Dead. They could do five seconds of brilliance just as well as they did five hours of sustained or interrupted brilliance. Keep drip-feeding us snippets of your mega fix please.

    • Yeah, and I love the occasions when they tease around the main riff, sometimes to the point where Phil goes into it and then has to quickly change tack when he realises that he’s on his own!
      I’m near the end of show 8 now, Maki, and the pleasure and treasure keeps on coming. The slight disappointment has been Jerry’s playing: whilst always capable of making you gasp at his audacity and imagination and/or sublime taste, there have been a few sloppy performances and several passages where he seems to take the easy option rather than the right one. But I still have 14 shows to hear……

      • Many of my favourite artists, be they vocalists or instrumentalists, are equally capable of being brilliant in spurts as they are of being just awful or treading water. I think that’s why they are in some way of a minority appeal. Those of us that love them will make the effort and listen to everything, knowing that our patience will be rewarded. Others will give up (I don’t blame them). I know you’re not a big fan of Flamenco but Camarón reminds me of Jerry at times in this sense. Fucked up and going through the motions at times. Boring for all but the most committed to listen to. But when he got it right and took you places you couldn’t think even existed – well, all the waiting and filtering wasn’t just worth it, It was forgotten!

        Keep listening and keep us informed. I have a feeling that we may just end up with a Casey here in Casa Maki. We’ll call it Cajón of course. (Cajón being the box that Flamenco percussionists get to sit on and play. Now there’s a job I would love, if only I had a sense of rhythm.

      • Jerry hasn’t bored me, he’s just not been magnificent all the time. He definitely did too much aimless noodling in later years – and I don’t listen to a lot after 1978 for that reason – but he’s going for clarity on this tour, it seems to me.
        I really like the rhythms and harmonic palette of Flamenco but, if I’m honest, I prefer it in reasonably small doses.
        The limited edition 7,200 sold out quite quickly, I’m afraid, so you can’t buy the box any more (except from despicable people on eBay selling theirs at an exorbitant price), but the shows, collectively and individually, are available.

      • I hope I didn’t imply you were bored by Jerry. I could never imagine that happening!

        As for Casey: I’ll have to acquire it virtually then. Sit my virtual ass on the virtual box but enjoy it nonetheless!

        No need to apologise for wanting or even needing to take flamenco in small doses. I felt the same until I was able to get close to it. Smell and touch it so to speak. It doesn’t mean a lot beyond the tabs and the noodling otherwise. If you ever get to Madrid I’d love to take you down to a place we know just for one evening so that you could experience it with all five senses. No desire to convert you just to share it with you.

      • Oh, Jerry has bored me rigid on Fire On The Mountain, Franklin’s Tower, Shakedown Street and plenty of other, later songs!

        There is a remote possibility that, one day, I will get my arse in gear and go somewhere again. I’ve never been to Madrid, so you never know, I may even take you up on that offer. Cheers!

    • Nice one!
      I hate facebook, particularly since seeing The Social Network and realising that it was invented so that people could be unpleasant and judgemental about others. I can’t deny how brilliant it’s been in allowing the Arab Spring to develop but that’s just a happy accident. Someday, Zuckerburg – or whoever pays him even more gazillions to own it – will turn round and say, ‘OK, now you are all mine. I claim your firstborn…’

      • I’ve seen the film and I still love Facebook – of course, I only have wonderfully sweet friends.

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