Jun 4, 2014

Summer 1969: Jerry Garcia Interview

This is an hour-long interview Michael Lydon taped with Garcia for his 1969 Rolling Stone article on the Grateful Dead. It is here presented in two versions: the first is more or less a complete and faithful transcription. The second is lightly edited to make it more readable. Most readers may want to skip down to the edited version.


MICHAEL LYDON INTERVIEW (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

(microphone feedback)
Garcia: Testing, one, two, is there a meter on there anywhere so you can judge level? You don’t want – if it’s distorted, it’ll be awful. Testing, one two three four five six seven eight… Okay, let’s see, there’s the meter – no, I think there isn’t any meter.
(Tape recorder set up – voices in background.)
Lydon: We were talking in the car about up til you became the Warlocks.
Garcia: Yeah.
Lydon: Can you go back?
Garcia: Before that?
Lydon: No, no, continue on from there.
Garcia: Oh, sure, from the Warlocks. Oh, we were the Warlocks for, oh, six months or so; and during that time we played like, you know, Big Al’s Gashouse and those kind of scenes; and bars, like you know, those Whiskey a Go Go kind of places, and with fake IDs and all that shit, like Weir was only 17, and Pigpen was 19; and you know, we had a whole hustle, you know, we had to join the union and all that, and it was – the thing that was mostly going on in the music business at that time, like we weren’t into the business part, we were just playing, and you know, just trying to get gigs and keep going, and the business at that time was like that whole Hollywood scene, you know, the whole beach trip, you know, with weird booking agents and all that kind of stuff; and we were like getting to the end of the rope in that scene, like we were playing, we were were doing six nights a week, five sets a night in those bars, you know; and we did it for – to the point where it was just impossible, I mean, you know when we’re finally tripping out all the regular clientele, there were no, hardly any more customers coming in, when they’d come in they’d leave clutching their ears, “Aaah shit!” – and you know, when you get – we grew into this whole like malicious thing, man, of just laying it on as thick as we could.
Lydon: What kind of stuff were you playing?
Garcia: Wild rock and roll, man; blues, you know, stuff like that, but it was like loud, you know, real loud; even, you know, for those days it was extremely loud, and for a bar it was ridiculous, you know like people had to scream at each other and all that, and that’s how we really started getting louder and louder; and then at that time –
Lydon: The numbers you put the people through.
Garcia: Yeah, right, right – just isolate ‘em. And at that time Kesey was doing his scenes up at his house in La Honda, on Saturdays they would all get stoned, and coming on to all that shit; and we had friends, you know, that were living up there and they had friends that were living down with us, and it was like back and forth, until finally it was, you know, “why don’t we get together and have a party, you guys bring your instruments and stuff and play,” you know, and they’d set up all their tapes and all that bullshit, and – we would all go and get stoned; and it would be – it was essentially formless, you know, there was nothing really going on, we’d just go there and make something of it, you know; and then we just sort of dropped out completely of the straight music thing; we didn’t take any more of those kind of gigs, we just played the acid tests, which was – the trip of the acid test was it was gonna be every Saturday night, it was gonna be a different place every time, and it wasn’t gonna have any plan; that was what the acid test was, in fact, and that’s the way it was through its whole thing; it lasted about six months, that particular trip, going various places, you know, and during that time we did the Trips Festival, acid test at Muir Beach, and Fillmore Auditorium; and also that was about the same time that they were having the first Family Dog shows and also the Mime Troupe benefits, which were like the first time, you know, there was like rock and roll scenes; the Trips Festival was the first time when all the heads around, you know, were like together in one place, everybody high, and nobody paranoid; so it was like, you know, that was the first time it opened out, you know, in any sense, you know. And during that time we became the Grateful Dead, you know, that became our name.
Lydon: How’d you get that name?
Garcia: Ohhh, looking for a name, looking for a name, you know, we abandoned the Warlocks, we just didn’t have a name for a while, you know, we were trying ones out to see how they fit the ear, you know; and we were smoking DMT over at Phil’s house one day, something like that, and he had a big Oxford dictionary, you know, opened it up, and there’s the Grateful Dead, it said the Grateful Dead, you know, just – That moment was one of those moments, you know, it’s just like everything else on the page went blank and diffuse, you know, it was the Grateful Dead in big black letters edged in gold, you know, blasting out – (laughter) – and it was such a stunning combination of words, you know, just the way, you know – and I said, “Well how about the Grateful Dead?” No, you know, some didn’t like it – Bill Graham didn’t want to advertise us, he didn’t want to say the Grateful Dead, he wanted to say the Warlocks, you know, we’d already played a couple of gigs and he thought we had a reputation as the Warlocks…
Lydon: It was already like a thing then.
Garcia: Oh, sure, yeah, sure.
Lydon: That maybe you wouldn’t last any longer [if you keep the wrong name].
Garcia: Right, right. See, it’s like, we didn’t give a fuck, you know. (laughter) So they just started calling us Grateful Dead as soon as we mentioned that it was a possibility, you know, that was the one, everybody just sort of gravitated toward it, and so that got to be it, you know.
Lydon: When did you move up to San Francisco?
Garcia: Well, we left – we started coming up to San Francisco pretty heavy during the acid test scene, to the Fillmore, and started meeting San Francisco people; and then we went to LA, the acid test went to LA, and we did two to three acid tests down there, and then the bus went to Mexico with the Pranksters, and we stayed in LA and just practiced and goofed and got really high a lot down in this house down there, and then we came back like three months later, back up to San Francisco where everybody had known us from the Fillmore gigs and somewhere, Longshoreman’s, all the Trips Festivals and so forth, and we came back and started playing gigs up here, we moved to Rancho Olompali, that was the first place we had up here; and then we moved from there, we were only there for about a month or so, we moved from there over to 710.
Lydon: Who owned that? Did McCoy own that?
Garcia: No, no, it was owned by just somebody, I don’t know who it was, whoever owned it then, you know, and they were thinking of putting up a historical monument, and stuff like that, and we managed to get it, you know, we got together enough rent for six weeks there; and that was like our first place, you know, because we needed a place to practice and all that.
Lydon: You were talking in the car before about Cassady and all that. Is it possible to tell what the whole thing with Kesey was like?
Garcia: Ohhh…well, it depended on who you were, when you were there, you know, it was like, it was one thing to me, there were always a lot of things to me, but I know that there are a lot of other people that it was a lot of other things for, if you know what I mean; it was like, it was open, it was a tapestry or something, you know, or a mandala or something like that, it was like, it was what you made of it, essentially; and that was the whole – the thing is, okay, you know, so you take LSD and you suddenly are aware of another plane, right, or several other planes, or whatever, and the question is to extend that limit, to go as far as you can go in that particular area, whatever it happens to be, and that, in the acid test it really meant do away with old forms, do away with old ideas, try something new; and that’s the way it was, and it was like no - nobody was doing something, you know, it was like everybody was doing bits and pieces of something, the result of which was something else (Lydon: Oh, wow), if you know what I mean, it was like, when it was, when the thing was really moving right, it was something you could sort of dig, that it was getting toward, you know, it was like some sort of ordered chaos, you know, some kind of chaos, and the way the acid test would be was it would start off, and there would be chaos, you know, everybody would be high and flashing and going through huge changes and there’d be just insane chaos during which everything would be demolished and spilled and broken and changed and affected, and after that another thing would happen, it’s like, the acid test went all night long til the next morning, and all these things would happen that would like smooth out within the chaos, if you know what I mean, so another form would happen; and it would all have to do with just everybody being there, sort of like being responsive, you know, so that – and there was like microphones all over, you know, like, there’d be like microphones all over, so if you were just anybody wandering around, there’d be a microphone, you could talk into it, and there would be somebody else somewhere in the building at the end of some wire, that would have a tape recorder and a mixing board and earphones and be listening in on microphones, and all of a sudden someone would turn it up because it seemed appropriate, you know, it would seem appropriate at that moment.
Lydon: So your rap wouldn’t get heard unless, like, someone decided –
Garcia: Well, the whole thing would be affected, you know, so you might say something into a microphone and you’d hear it come out maybe a minute later, in a tape loop somewhere else, some other part of the place, and all of a sudden there would be all this odd interchange going on, you know, and neural connections and weird sorts, you know, it would just be like – well, you know, it was like magic, you know, some far-out magic, and really a gas – (Lydon: Yeah!) The thing about it was, that there was, you know, it was people doing it all, you know, people doing it all; like the light show, I remember one time, when somebody was writing, like Kesey would be writing messages on a projector maybe, projected up onto a wall, and he would be writing what he was seeing, or what was going on, and he would write what was going on, it would go up on the board there, meanwhile somebody else would be making a comment about it on a microphone somewhere, and it would be ringing out of some speaker somewhere, and you know – there would be all this stuff happening, exchanging back and forth, you know. Oh, it was really far out.
Lydon: And you’d just be playing?
Garcia: Uh, yeah, we’d be playing, you know, we’d be playing when we were playing, when we weren’t playing we’d be doing other stuff, you know. And we wouldn’t do sets, like sometimes we’d get up and play, just play for two hours or three hours, sometimes we’d get up and play for ten minutes and all freak out and split, you know, and sometimes, you know, it was just like, we would just do it however it would happen, you know. I mean it wasn’t a job, you dig? (Lydon: Yeah.) It wasn’t a job, we weren’t going to do a job, it was the acid test, wherein, you know, anything is okay, you can do anything you want.
Girl: The thing about it is nobody paid any money and nobody ever had any money.
Garcia: Right, right, there was no money, period.
Girl: And you did it all without money. (Garcia: Right.) That was the neat part about it. Did it all without any […] of money coming in at all, except for the hassle part […].
Lydon: Before it all happened, you had been aware that maybe your music could get into that?
Garcia: Uhh, well, I’ve always been a musician, I’ve always loved to play, and it’s just, where is there a form which says that you can play all you want to, but you don’t have to do any bullshit to go along with it – you know like before that all there was was coffeehouses and things like that – I mean open to me as a musician. And so, you know, there they maybe didn’t take too kindly to, you know, 45-minute guitar solos or something – I mean, you know, it’s like, it’s a timeless experience, I think, you know, the thing about music, and like when we’re playing together, and the thing that we learned back there, you know, is that there is something happens after you’ve taken the step over the brink, you know, when you’ve gone past what you know, and then you’ve learned something new, you know, that’s where you learn something new, that’s the thing to see – that’s, like with our music, we’ve been pushing our music in that same way all along, you know, just to get past where we are, if you know what I mean.
Lydon: One thing that’s bothered me in the records is, it’s difficult to find a sense of continuity – but I mean, it must be there.
Garcia: Well, it depends what sort of continuity you’re talking about. What records are you talking about?
Lydon: Well, just from the first to second to third – the second seems more connected to the third (Garcia: Right), and the first is a whole different number.
Garcia: Well the first one, we never – it was the first record we ever made, and at the time, it was unreasonable for us to do what we did, which would have been one LP, two sides, one song, you know, like they would never have gone for it, you know, it was not the thing to do with the form, right? So we made the first record of short songs and stuff that we were doing, but they were like our little – they were like our warm-up numbers, you know – they were tunes, songs, you know, and like the thing we do isn’t really that, quite, you know; I mean we weave songs in and out, you know, but they aren’t really, you know, it’s not just – So anyway, the first record was songs, and that was because we were making a record, right – Viola Lee Blues, it was, you know, revolutionary for being ten minutes long, twelve minutes long, big deal – now, you know, big deal. And then, so when we came up to do the second record, we thought, you know, this time let’s do an LP record, let’s not make a record that’s gonna sell or that somebody in the record company is gonna like, and you know, we had to live with the first record for a year and we grew to hate it, you know – and so the second record, you know, like we kicked out the producer and got thrown out of a lot of studios for being too weird and all that shit, and finally when we settled down to do it ourselves, we were in effect learning how to make a record, we were learning about recording techniques and all that; so we assembled the thing that we were doing, we had a vision of sorts, you know, to do one unified trip, to do an LP record, in other words. And the Anthem of the Sun is that, but it’s like still too far, you know, it’s too far for the man on the street to dig it, you know. It’s a heads record, really – seems to be, I mean it has never been popular particularly, you know, just only with our fans, you know, with people who work at listening. (Lydon: Yeah.) People who work at listening dig that record – well, the new record now, it’s like, I’m in a different place than I was the last time, and this time, the songs, the words are Bob’s, but the melodies and all that – the way they grew, the way those songs grew and the way they happened is like, was really right, you know – like some of those songs on that album we wrote in the studio, we just went in and did it, you know…
Lydon (talking over him): What particular song?
Garcia: Rosemary, we did in the studio – we didn’t even have any such song, you know, we just – like in 15 minutes we had that song down, it was just there.
Lydon: Wow. Did you fuck around with it after that?
Garcia: No, that’s the way we did it, you know, that’s the way it came.
Lydon: The melodic thing that’s on Anthem of the Sun is still going in the new record.
Garcia: Right, right, well the feeling –
Lydon: That’s a nice melody in that, “he has to die” – 
Garcia: Yeah, right, right.
Lydon: Is that yours?
Garcia: Yes, that’s right, one of my melodies.
Lydon: [That’s a fine song….]   
Garcia: Well you see, the place that I was trying to get at with that, I mean, that’s like one of those things that just emerged, you know, I was just sitting around playing the guitar and all of a sudden bam, there it is, and it says something to you, just the air, you know, like certain airs say certain things to you, and that says a certain thing and there it was; and on the new record, all those songs are from that place, you know, they’re all – I don’t know how to explain it; they’re all true, if you know – I can’t think of any other way to explain it – but they came out effortlessly, they weren’t worked on particularly, you know what I mean, in just the conception of them.
Lydon: Your live show is so different though – in your live show…
Garcia (talking over him): Yeah well, see now – well in the next month or so, we’re releasing the next album – really, the one that’s out now, the new one, that one there, is one aspect of the two records that we’re putting out in the space of a couple of months – the next one is a double live album which is one of our live sets, it’s from the Carousel and from the Avalon – and it’s just us live –
Lydon: […]
Garcia: Right, two records, right.
Lydon: Wow. Did you jump from – is each one a thing, is each side a thing –
Garcia: Each side is a thing, and they’re also a thing all together.
Lydon: Right. Did you fuck around with that?
Garcia: No, not at all; we just did it like directly the way it happened, you know, just laid it out, and it’s the truest representation of us live, to date. You know, it’s us; I mean it’s us live, you know – on good nights, you know, on the nights when the spirit was there, you know.
Lydon: Was it that Sunday night at the Avalon?
Garcia: Yeah.
Lydon: Was that the Lovelight?
Garcia: Yeah, right.
Lydon: Oh, that was really too much.
Garcia: Right.
Lydon: Everyone get dancing.
Garcia: Right, oh, you oughta hear it, it was like – you hear everybody dance, you know, you hear, it’s like oh – I mean, it’s really that real thing, you know, which is – it’s mostly, for us, like when we go to do a live recording thing, it’s such a number, you know, just hassling all the equipment and getting it all set up and all like that, and everybody’s stoned, you know, like it’s a wonder, you know, that it gets done, and like what usually happens when we get a really good night, like when everybody gets really high, the recording is blown, you know, we didn’t get the recording; but this time it was just like fortuitous, you know, it just worked out.
Lydon: How did you work in the live bit on the second record?
Garcia: Ohh – a variety of ways, man, we did all sorts of things, we did – frequently we would take two or three performances of the same song, live performances of the same song, and take maybe 12 bars; like for example in “That’s It for the Other One,” just after the drum part, there’s a little drum part and then it comes in, and what there is there, what’s happening there is it’s like four different live versions of us doing the same song, simultaneously happening, and then kind of one fading out and another one fading in, you know, we’re sort of flipping ‘em like a deck of cards. (Lydon: Oh, wow.) So there’s that – that’s why the time is so weird, and it tumbles in those weird ways, you know – like we did a lot of things like that, you know, we sculpted, we used the live stuff as source material, if you know what I mean, and so Anthem of the Sun is really a tape composition as much as anything else, as much as like a musical composition – and then the way we mixed it is, we took each side and performed the mix, you know, we’d run through the tape, we’d be there over the 8-track, you know, Phil and I, and we would just play the tape, play the board –
Lydon: And getting together on it, so each one of you was doing different things – and both hearing…
Garcia (talking over him): Right, right, precisely; and we did it enough so we knew all the nuance and knew what was happening and knew kind of what we were after; and then we’d get really stoned and we’d mix it for the hallucinations. (Lydon: Oh, wow.) For what you see, for the place it takes you, you know. And so like that’s the same on the new record too – we’ve learned to do that, you know, to mix for the little world, you know.
Lydon: That – like when you play live, it’s –
Garcia: You have to do it a different way, because it’s happening right now – when you’re doing a record, it’s like doing a painting, you know, it’s like you’re gonna work on it and nobody’s gonna see you while you’re working on it, so your working on it is not the thing, the finished thing is the thing, so you have all that as a consideration; so it’s a low energy trip; we record in the wintertime. And then playing is like something that’s happening now, it’s an expression of the now, you might say, you know, because anybody who’s there when you’re playing is affecting the music, they can change the music by glancing at you or by dancing or by doing anything, you know, it’s all – you know – but a record is closed, it’s finished, it’s done, it becomes something else; it’s an other thing.
Lydon: I was thinking about the problem with communication in there – when you just play live, and it’s right there – and everyone senses a very generous invitation, you know, to come on in, everybody, [we just love to play.] (Garcia: Right.) On the record, by going a step, you know, or many steps further down, the communication thing isn’t as open.
Garcia: No it’s not, because the medium doesn’t allow it, see, it’s like when – if you include, for example, on a record, a question, you know, say there’s a question, you know, let’s say, “who are you?” – you put it on a record and put the record on, and this question will come out at you, say, “who are you?” but you don’t have anybody to tell it to, you know, except a record, you know, and you can’t, you know, so it’s not – a record doesn’t communicate that way, you know, it doesn’t take anything in; it’s just there, right?
Lydon: It puts you – you have to get onto the [board] –
Garcia: Right, it puts you into a place, is what it’ll do, because of the nature of sound, it’ll put you into a place, and so that’s another sort of language, you see, and the nature of – you know, I mean, communication is implicit in the whole act of playing music, I mean, it’s there on one level or some level or another, like Bob, Bob’s thing is that, you know, his stuff communicates also, on any level that you care for it to communicate to you, if you – you know, it depends also how you listen to it, you know.
Lydon: Can you describe some of the – like a verbal description of some of the places, or one of the places, or the place, on one of the songs on one of the records […] – I mean can you remember some – verbally.
Garcia: Oh, sure, sure, uh – Dupree is a good one, it’s a very specific sort of place – and uh, like Phil sees that place as being like – or that story as being told by the fool, you know, the tarot card fool, that guy, and that place he is, where he’s stepping off a cliff, you know. (Lydon: … ) Right, and you know, that whole thing; and that’s – it’s also the carnival, you know, the midway, you know, there’s calliope kind of going on back there, and it’s, you know, it’s that famous story place, you know, where that kind of mythic trip is going on, you know – that’s what I hear in it, you know, that’s what I hear in that melody, and that’s what the words are talking about, you know, the words are running down that story, you know – it’s a story, you know – but it’s a very particular one, you know.
Lydon: What do you see the story as?
Garcia: Well, just as the guy, you know, the guy who goes and robs the store, you know, the guy who goes and gets, you know, he’s gonna get the diamond for his honey, you know, and you know, the judge and all that, the famous confrontations, you know; it’s just another way of looking at that thing, and bringing a little of the sideshow into it, you know. I mean it’s like, you know, the thing that I say about it is just gonna be the place it puts me, but the point is that, if that is going on in the act of creation, if you’re thinking ‘this is gonna be a place, it’s gonna be a place to me,’ but you can’t know whether somebody else is gonna go to that same place; but you can at least say that it’s valid, it’s a valid place for me, you know, I mean, I experience it in a valid way, a real way, I mean, it really – I put on the earphones and there’s that – there it is, there it’s going on, you know, they’re going through their changes there; and somebody else will hear it different, but even so, that’s, you know, that’s where it is; I mean, if you can see yourself in something that’s put in front of you, you know, then it works, you know – it’s, you know, like objective art, if it’s really righteous, you know.
Lydon: It sounds like Peter Townshend’s blind dumb and deaf boy […] living in a place of music. (Garcia: Yeah.) And music losing its quality of being […], but being just a […] of some kind.
Garcia: Well that’s the thing, music is an aspect of sound, which is an aspect of your perception of, you know, what’s going on, you know; it’s the door out of yourself, you know; and it’s – like you hear all the shit that’s going on, little sounds here and there, and they’re all in places, and you hear ‘em because you have two ears, you hear ‘em, they’re a place, there’s a thing going on, so if you snap your fingers over here, you can identify it as being over there; do it over there, you can identify it there, cause you have two ears; and that’s the – when you have two sources of sound, stereo, you’re covering what hearing is, you know, and that’s like effectively painting a picture in your head. (Lydon: Yeah, right.) But, you know, the nature of the picture is up to whose head it is you’re painting in, you know, so anybody who listens to a record, you know, sees a different picture.
Lydon: Do you consider yourself playing rock and roll?
Garcia: Uh, it’s a label, you know, it’s just a label, it’s like, do I consider myself polite? I mean it’s just a label, but no matter what I consider it, it still is what it is, you know, it’s still – you still hear it, you know. I mean, I don’t consider it anything, I just consider it to be what I do, it’s just music, you know, whatever that is, and I don’t think of it in terms of being rock and roll or, you know, an idiom – I mean, rock and roll, man, is like the ultimate non-descriptive label, you know.
Lydon: Oh wow, I think… To me as a person, I think rock and roll isn’t a label, it’s a whole thing…
Garcia: Well what’s the thing, tell me about it.
Lydon: Wow, I think of it as a whole energy thing, a whole matrix kind of thing, like “Hail hail rock and roll, deliver us from the days of old.”
Garcia: Oh, right, right, right. Oh yeah, in that sense, yeah, we’re playing rock and roll, you know, yeah, we’re still playing rock and roll, I mean we’re still playing –
?? (interrupting): Deliver us from the days of Elvis! 
Garcia: Right! (pause) But yeah, I can dig that place – I don’t know whether it’s, you know – like, everybody in our – in the band has got their own idea about what we’re doing, you know, in terms of labeling it. Shit, I don’t know, I don’t think – I don’t find it convenient to think about it one way or another, you know. It really comes out – for me it comes out in the experience of doing it, you know – playing music, courting the muse, you know – it’s my work, you know, and so, I think of it as my work – although my work might very well be rock and roll, you know.
Lydon: What about the whole communication of good times, getting other people to break through – the whole impact of the Dead live?
Garcia: It’s something there for you to do, you know – and not everybody sees us that way, you know, it’s like in San Francisco everybody does, because everybody’s seen us so many times, everybody knows, you know, what it is we’re doing; people come mostly to get a chance to get loose – but like in the rest of the country, we play concerts and like people sit very politely and do all that shit – and a lot of times, you know, some kid gets up to dance and six cops are on him, and you know – it’s like different in the rest of America. It’s only really loose around here, the rest of America’s pretty weird still. But even so –
Lydon (interrupting): […] they don’t have an idea of the place that –
Garcia: They don’t have a model, they haven’t had a model, you know, and when we go there, the most effective thing is for – like, we go into a town, there’ll be a small amount of people who know us, because they’ve been out on the coast or one thing or another, you know, and they’ll come, and they’ll kind of like be the little microcosm to sort of instruct everybody else on what to do, but even so, man, it’s a form, you know, it’s really gotten to be a rigid – it’s stuck, it’s stuck, and the whole thing of playing in a hall, having a light show, band, and the orientation is, you sit down and you watch and, you know, the lights are behind the band so that you can see the band and the lights, and it’s like, you know, really there’s nothing happening mostly, it’s mostly watching television, large loud television; and that’s not really what we’re doing, you know – so what we’re trying – what we’re doing at this point in time is we’re trying to find a way to do another form, to seek another form, or other forms in which you can play music so it doesn’t have to be so rigid, you know, so rigid one way or another – like, this form is one that only started like three or four years ago, but it started as a misapprehension of the thing that was going on at the time – you see, like Graham was at the Trips Festival, he saw the things going on, and he saw a light show and band, which were the simplest and easiest things to identify, right, because it’s obvious it’s a band, it’s got – what do they got, instruments up there and drums and amplifiers, and here’s these lights on the screen, why, you know, that’s a light show, so, you take a light show and a band and that’s a formula, and that formula represents the form which has been going on now for three or four years, and it’s stuck! It’s stuck, it’s not going anywhere, you know, it’s not – it hasn’t blown any new minds, if you wanna – you know, you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. But really, the thing that was happening back then in the Trips Festival was not just a rock and roll band and not just a light show but a whole other thing; but the point was that if you were bustling around, taking tickets and hustling, you know, hustling to get a production on, you know, or to put a little order into the chaos, you didn’t observe the stuff that was going on, you know. It’s a sensitive trip, really, the way it was then; it’s unfortunate that all that’s been lost, see. The nicest thing about that was the formlessness, because it was an opportunity for something new to happen with a large number of people, you know, for them to be able to get together in one place, a lot of ‘em, helplessly stoned, you know, and find yourself in a room full of thousands of people, none of whom you were afraid of – you know, it was like really far out, you know, it’s a heavy thing – and that was the thing that really happened then, that was the start of the large scenes, you know, people getting together and feeling good about it, you know, which ultimately led to the be-ins and so forth, and scenes that are still going on, you know, a good night at Winterland and all that.
Lydon: Yeah. You’ve been – I always kind of think the Dead have been working very consciously to try to keep that thing going.
Garcia: Uh, well, we’ve been just consciously going, trying to keep our thing going – whatever it is, you know. It’s like, you can only lend so much of your energy to something that’s going on, and if nobody picks up on it, it’s not righteous, you know. We just try and do what we can do as well as we can do it, and stay as high as we can get, you know, so – on the level of, when we go onto the stage to play music, it’s an important thing, it’s an important moment, and that’s the way we enter into it, because that’s the realest, you know – like if you take the long view – say for example, the long view has been one of our [problems], we’ve taken the long view, okay what are we trying to do, we’re trying to make it so things are a little cooler, so people can get along a little, you know, people can have a little more fun, you know, whatever, all those things that are missing, seem to be missing; but that view doesn’t aid you when it comes down to the moment of playing; the thing that aids you when it comes to the moment of playing is thinking your music, you know, thinking of who you’re playing with and the music that you’re about to make, and your hands, how well are they working, you know, how much time you’ve put in practicing and all that – it’s like a real yoga thing, you know what I mean, it’s something that you really do do when you’re doing it, and the thought comes way later, you know – you know, the intellectualization of it, you know, where you say ‘this is what it was’ or ‘that’s what it was’ or you know, cause it’s not really like that, you know; and the thing that we’re following around is something that’s no farther away than the end of your nose, you know, we’re just like close behind our noses, following along, and, you know – there, you know, like I say, it’s nothing that we – the thing about the whys and whats of it, you know, probing it and stuff like that, man, there’s just nothing to say ultimately about it, you know, except that we do it, and it seems to work the way it works, and that we don’t do it by ourselves, it’s not something – it’s not us generating an enormous amount of energy that we can do at any time, it’s us going to a place and being aware of the people there, and the people being aware of us, and us feeding back and forth, you know, it’s an interactive thing, and that’s the thing, that’s the experience, you know, really; the rest of it is talk.
Lydon: Yeah. (laughter)
Garcia: It’s really a difficult thing to talk about, I mean, like I’m in this music so long that, for one thing, my only thing about music is like way back, you know – it’s just like, I just, you know – I’ve spent the last ten years of my life in music, man, and it’s – I’m covered with it, you know; I can’t really talk about it, you know; it’s all over, all around, you know; it’s really hard, really hard to exteriorize it.
Lydon: How does it – handling the business of it all, and [working that into the framework], is that a constant […]?
Garcia: Yeah, it is, with everything, I’m sure, just because – well, for us, like we take a huge amount of equipment and four equipment guys, plus the band, plus your road manager, and that adds up to quite a few people, and like our operating overhead is real high, just to move our stuff and just to get it there and just to play, so on the practical level, we don’t really make any money, you know, we just don’t make any money at all. You know, but what else does money do, you know, the only thing it does is further the trip. And also, like the whole business thing is like, who wants to take care of business? – in our whole scene, everybody in the Grateful Dead has been for the last three years nothing but heads, not a straight soul in the whole thing, you know; certainly nobody who’s capable of taking care of business, you know. So our business scene has always been a calamity, man, you know like, it’s not even a shock to hear that you’re $60,000 in debt, you know – “huh, $60,000 in fucking debt,” you know. But it’s just, you know, it’s all going on in the paper universe, you know, where it doesn’t – you know, that’s another thing, if you want to go along with it and believe it and everything, there it is, as real as can be, you know, you can go and fight with it and hassle with it and hassle with bankers and pay bills and do all that, or you can just let it go; and what we did is let it go, and so here it is, you know, $60,000 in debt; and like, our whole manager thing is, Mickey’s father is now doing it, you know, he’s like fronting our whole manager thing, he’s taking charge; we’ve given him the power to do what he wants to do; his whole trip is to straighten it all out, you know, and make it so that all is feasible, and also to help us with ideas for new forms and so forth. So right now, things are looking good, but you know, like the whole thing about money is still something weird, you know. It’s not really what we’re doing, you know, we’re obviously not out to make money because we aren’t even working at it, you know; we’re out to keep ourselves happy with what we’re doing, you know, to do what we’re doing and make it so that we dig it, so it isn’t work – so rather than work, go out for 60 days on the road doing a gig every other night, you know, jumping all over the place like those guys do, and then coming back and dying, you know, it’s like –
Lydon: Why do you think they do it?
Garcia: Um, managers don’t understand about pace, about musicians and pace, or they aren’t, they don’t – the business world as a whole doesn’t understand what it is to be someone who does something and that everybody has their own pace at which you do stuff, and that it’s not always – you can’t continually put out without having it – without losing it, you know what I mean, if you’re a musician. If I had to play 60 days in a row, gigs every night, and didn’t have a chance to practice or to listen to new music or to get some new ideas, I’d hate what I was doing, you know, by the end of that time; you know, it would make me crazy, it really would; and it’s because I’m aware of the pace that I have [behind learning things].
Lydon: A lot of other bands, for one reason or other, accept the pace; I mean, do do that trip.
Garcia: Um – maybe it’s because of the bread, maybe because they dig it, you know – you know, some people dig it, you know, dig the high energy thing.
Lydon: Do you think Janis does?
Garcia: Probably, probably. You know, it’s like, I don’t know, I can’t speak for anybody else, you know, but I dig for it to be – I mean, you know, like music is something I expect to be doing as long as I am doing anything, you know, and it’s just – I see it in waves, you know, like there’s downhill slumps, and uphill rises, and plateaus, and all sorts of levels, all of which you go to in their turn, you know; and it represents the large, you know, picture of what it is like to be going through your life creating stuff.
Lydon: How do you feel about the fact that you haven’t become super big time, popular, […]. 
Garcia: I’m glad. (laughs) I’m glad. It’s a big hassle to be popular, just because of the attention – and all that stuff is weird, you know, the whole thing of, that there’s a thing set up that says that because you play music, you’re better than somebody else, or it’s fashionable, you know, and that – all those levels of consideration, the hierarchy, you know, all that stuff is bullshit – but people continue to buy that theory, you know, and continue to accept musicians as a hierarchy, you know, and really, you know musicians are just people, just doing people stuff, you know; so like, you know, there I am in St. Louis, Missouri or something like that, and some cat is talking to me about, you know, about rock and roll and about, you know, something he read in a magazine, something like that – I don’t know what the fuck he means, you know, and it’s like, it’s not – it makes it so that it’s more of a burden for you to be able to communicate with anybody, you know what I mean, it’s just there’s a whole lot of shit you gotta cut through, because they think you’re somebody you’re not, you know.
Lydon: What about the – you were saying earlier that one time you wanted to be a rock and roll star.
Garcia: That happened when I was 15, you know. I mean that’s when I started playing, when I was 15, you know; and that was the thing that attracted me to it, you know, I loved the sound of the guitar and all that, and all that shit was really far out, you know – you know, but the reality of playing the guitar and getting into music and all that, all of a sudden you’re different, you’re doing something different, you’re not after that thing, that initial thing, or, you know, that’s not where you are anymore, you know; you get older, go through your changes, and pretty soon music is what you do, and you know about it, you know – you’ve changed your energy from the one level to the other level, you know – and like, the rock and roll star thing is just a drag, you know; it never helped anybody, it never made anybody a better musician, you know (Lydon: Right, right), I don’t think – with the possible exception of the Beatles, maybe, who had they not been – if they hadn’t been encouraged by success may not have continued to create music which has been a gas, you know.
Lydon: Or someone like Jagger, who plays the role like an instrument, plays the whole –
Garcia: Right, well in that case, you know, that’s the matter of dealing with that in a certain way, that’s a way to deal with it, but I personally don’t wanna devote my energy to playing a role, I would rather devote my energy to music, you know, and be able to deal with people on some simple human level – you know, I don’t wanna be – it’s really, when you get that kind of stuff, you know, like distant cousins and stuff hitting on you, you know, somebody comes up and says, “listen, I’m your cousin 17 times removed and my family knew yours back in - ” you know, all of a sudden here you are, you’re somebody, you know, whereas without that title you’re just another anybody, you know; and it’s much easier and cooler to be anybody than it is to be somebody. (Lydon: Yeah, right.) Somebody’s just a big drag, I mean, it’s just more shit you have to do, you know, which like makes it harder for you to do the thing you’re trying to do.
Lydon: Yeah. One thing – like in the beginning of that Solomon Burke record ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love,’ “If everybody listened to my song tonight, I believe it would save the whole world.’ (Garcia: Right.) How… Do you think that way? It seems – I’ve thought that you do […] like that, […]. [you’d be on his trip kind of thing] (Garcia: Right.) So how do you connect the music thing with making people feel good, the social thing, [so that the…]   
Garcia: Uhh – I don’t connect it, period; I mean, I know – I realize that there is a connection, and I can dig it, but like I say, being conscious of that as a fact is nothing – like, you can’t translate that idea into music; you can’t say, “this is this idea, I can concretely translate it into music and make it come out thus,” see; that you cannot do, music doesn’t say those kind of things, see.
Lydon: A lot of musicians have tricks, or one thing or another, like with BB King, he can just sort of – he knows how to do it (Garcia: Right), during the course of the first song he’ll hit a certain note that does translate the idea –
Garcia (interrupting): Right, exactly; well, that’s the thing, is finding those things – I think that the moments that translate the idea originally are pure, and that once you learn them consciously, they then become a device, and once it’s a device, it’s frozen, you know; it’s like – for me, that is, I’m talking about me – so like, I know the trick that you do to get everybody up and dancing, the trick that you do to get a standing ovation, you know, we’ve learned those things as a group, right; but you can’t rely on ‘em because they’re lies once you know ‘em. When you stumble into ‘em and everybody’s up, it’s the truth; when you know how to do it, man, it’s just like something you can do, it’s an exercise, you know; and it’s an exercise of will, which is a weird thing – instead, it’s like, if you have all that as part of what you know about what you’re doing, that’s a consideration of musicians now is to know all those things, that this thing will make it really exciting, and this other thing will make it another way, and it’s like, they’re only there to use if it’s true and right and boss to use ‘em, and that’s only if it’s going in such a way so that that’s what happens, you know – I mean, I don’t know if you can understand any of that – but those moments are really precious to me, man, you know; they really are far out, you know, when the place becomes one thing – everything, everybody in there is one thing, and it’s all really going down beautifully; it’s nothing that you want to resort to as a trick, you know; it’s something heavier, in my opinion.
Lydon: [It’s still always…] further. 
Garcia: Yeah, further, man, I mean, I don’t see any sense in doing the same thing over and over again, no matter what it is, no matter how boss it is; it’s like, to me, being alive means to continue to change, you know, to continue to learn and continue to grow and to do all that, and to not be where I was last week or two months ago or a year ago or any of that; because, you know, you can’t, I mean – it’s just not interesting, you know, to me; and I think that that’s the way – I think anybody who’s into music, or who’s a musician, and is in the process of teaching themselves about music and how to play, which as far as I can see, is a process that lasts as long as you’re alive; it’s like that’s the thing, that’s the thing you’re doing, you know – I can’t; you know – again, this is a difficult thing to talk about.
Lydon: Did you read in Rolling Stone a long time ago the whole Mike Bloomfield […] thing? 
Garcia: No I didn’t…
Lydon: Oh. They really put you down – I think Bloomfield particularly.
Garcia: Oh, I didn’t read it, no, what did he say? 
Lydon: Well, just said it was shit.
Garcia: Well he’s entitled to his opinions, you know.
Lydon: [… think that he could know better.] 
Garcia: Who knows, man – I mean, it might very well be that that interview might have been after he might have seen us on a night when it was shit, or, you know, depending what he was referring to, you know, maybe he, maybe, you know – I don’t know, I don’t know where Mike’s head is at, really. I know that he feels very strongly about purity, a certain kind of purity it seems, because like the things – not necessarily his playing, but when he does arrangements and stuff like that, and does production and stuff like that, he gets it so it’s right, for what he’s doing, you know, I mean really righteous; and it might just be that what we do violates his aesthetic, you know – I don’t know, I can’t really tell, you can’t know about things like that. But you know, the thing about interviews and the thing about music is that you can say anything you want, man; it’s cool, you know; it’s cool because the experience is such that you can like it or not like it or you know, say, you know, go out of your mind or leave in a rage or any fucking thing, I mean, it’s cool to do it, you know – music is something you can hang any fucking thing on, you know, and it’s okay. (Lydon: Yeah.) Yeah, I mean like […] Rolling Stone now, because of music, Rolling Stone has something to talk about – it’s like half the battle of life in this world is something to do, you know, something to just pass the time away, man, just something to do, you know – and it’s like, talking about stuff is doing something. (Lydon: Yeah.) You know, so providing an excuse for talking, man, is okay. It just means that somebody’s gonna have something to talk about, you know, it’s all right. And so if you’re gonna put stuff out like a record or something like that, put something out that anybody can say anything about, so that – you know, so that it leaves a big open door for stuff to talk about instead of a little narrow door, you know, or lots of things to talk about instead of one thing to talk about, you know, whatever.
Lydon: Do you recall saying before about starting out in blues and country, you never got one […] thing down, like blues, the way Mike Bloomfield’s done blues?
Garcia: Um, no, no, only – yeah, bluegrass music I got down, bluegrass music is the thing that I was – and traditional music, those were the things that I was into heavy enough to be able to play them pure and righteously. When I was playing five-string banjo, like, I went the whole way with it, you know; I went all the way through the body of music that existed as an example of it, and learned everything that I could from it, and played with the guys that I could play with, and – you know, that’s how I began to understand what an idiom was, what style was, and what kinds of music, you know, like that – yeah, I’ve done that, I’ve done that; in fact –
Lydon: How could you leave it?
Garcia: Because there was nobody to play with, and because there was no place to play – not on the west coast, you know.
Lydon: Did you ever […] like going to Virginia or Nashville?
Garcia: I went to all those places.
Lydon: You did?
Garcia: Sure.
Lydon: Just on your own?
Garcia: Yeah.
Lydon: Did you find stuff to do?
Garcia: Oh, I recorded bluegrass shows, and stuff like that, me and a friend of mine, Sandy Rothman, who went on to play guitar with Bill Monroe, who’s the guy who invented bluegrass music; and, you know, I got to know a lot of musicians and played with a lot of people and, you know – I did it to my satisfaction.
Lydon: You had a personal odyssey kind of […].
Garcia: Yeah, yeah.
Lydon: How long’d you do it for?
Garcia: Oh, three months, four months, something like that. I mean actually travelling in the south and being… [mumbles] 
Lydon: Wow. And then you came [from doing] that back into the folk stuff?
Garcia: No, no, that was like out toward – you know, I mean, all these things are happening more or less simultaneously, overlapping, I mean like, started rock and roll, went to acoustic guitar, from acoustic guitar into folk music, like – by folk music I mean traditional music, which in this country is country music, and like old-time country music from the twenties and like that – and that’s where I got into the guitar, fingerstyling the guitar, and from there into the banjo, old-style banjo playing, and then into Scruggs-style bluegrass music. You know, but like, but you know, it’s like, you can’t live in the United States and not hear all kinds of music, you know, you hear all kinds of music as you’re just going through your changes, you have a car radio, you know, you hear all kinds of music; so none of it escapes you, if you know what I mean; so like while I was into one kind of music, I was hearing all other kinds of music, and that was all having an effect on me, you know, and you just – you know. It’s all music, is what it boils down to, you know, there’s all kinds of music, all kinds – there’s people on the street corners making music, you know, all over – weird old fiddlers in bus depots and shit like that, they’re all over, people like that all over, so it’s like, you know, music is everywhere; just people playing, making music of some kind or another, people on the back porch, people in church singing, that’s a big thing, music going on all around; and it’s all going on, you know. That’s why, you know, the thing about, that all those idioms and styles and different worlds of music are all melting away, man, because nobody is isolated from all the different kinds of music there are, you know; everybody’s hearing it all now. So like the guys in the Band who undoubtedly learned how to play and how to approach their instruments from rock and roll records and country music records and Ray Charles and the blues and stuff like that, do their songs like the way Aretha Franklin, you know, gospel singer from that tradition, does one of their songs, and Bob Dylan’s in Nashville with Johnny Cash, and you know, it’s like really mixing it up, you know, they’re really mixing it up, and music is getting that way, you know.
Lydon: Yeah. Is this the first record you used a Moog on?
Garcia: Yeah, right. The first time I’ve ever used one.
Lydon: How do you think the accessibility of electronic music will come about?
Garcia: Oh, the accessibility of electronic music is a fact; they’ve been accessing electronic music for some time now – and popular, man, I’m talking about popular, I’m talking about, let’s say underground radio, FM; every city in the United States has some kind of underground FM radio, at least one, and a lot of them have two and three; so that’s something that’s happened in the last couple of years – all those stations play at least somebody who does some amount of electronic stuff – the Beatles on their last album had that thing, Revolution No. 9 – it’s electronic! (Lydon: Yeah, right.) You know, like people are hearing that, you know; they aren’t hearing the heaviest of it, they aren’t hearing all of it, and maybe the heaviest of it is a trifle too heavy, but it’s out, you know, it’s out, like people – it’s not, it hasn’t been ignored; and you can hear bits and snatches of it on the top 40 radio, you know – the Monkees, everybody, you know. Those things are the tools now, you know, for everybody, for every musician, you know, has all of music historically to choose from, because it’s all here right now in the form of records – go into a record store, man, you can pick a century, you know; and it’s all there, you can hear it, you know, you don’t have to hassle with musty old documents and, you know, funky old scores and shit like that, you can hear it. (Laughter.) And that’s the thing, you know, that’s the thing, what you can hear, you hear, it goes into your brain and it’s in there, man, you know, the stuff that you hear is – you know how a melody gets in your head, or some song that you heard once or twice on the radio, and it’s, you know, there it is, and it’s locked in your brain, [until] you retain it, you catch it, you get it, you know, and it happens to […] part of yourself; that’s how well your hearing transmits shit.
Lydon: When I first met you it was during the summer of ’67, and I spent the night – I guess I knew Danny, and I talked to Danny […] – a very ambivalent thing about the Haight-Ashbury – wanted to say “why don’t you keep it going somehow,” but not sure it could ever get that going again there… (Garcia: Right.) I’d really appreciate it if you could sort of talk about the changes in Haight-Ashbury, how you saw that, and how you saw the Dead [in relation] to it, and your eventually leaving, and the Carousel…
Garcia: Well, originally when we were there, we were just there, you know, we were just other people on the street and around, you know, like – and that’s the way it was with everybody, the guys that were doing the posters, all the other musicians, we were just, you know, we were just freaks, just like always, and it was – there was no distinctions made. Then, behind all the publicity in Time magazine and all that shit, the tourist hordes started coming, and the out of town kids and all that kind of stuff, and pretty soon there was a big traffic problem on the street, so the people who were on the street who wanted more freedom on the street started hassling the tourists, and the cops started hassling the people on the street, and the tourists were hassling the cops, and back and forth; and then, you know, there were confrontations and hassles and guys were putting out, you know, firebrand bullshit – and all of a sudden it was just, there was – it was a political trip, you know, all of a sudden there was cops and National Guard and all that bullshit – who needs it, you know? I mean, you know – like, who wants to live in that? You know, like where you’re living, you know; I mean, you might want to go there to hassle, but you don’t want to live in it particularly; you know, at least I don’t, and none of us did, so we just split, because it was, you know, it’s not – it’s not a righteous fight, you know, it’s just some bullshit, it’s just something to do, you know, it’s another kind of something to do, but it’s the kind of something to do that I don’t care to do, and I used to – you know, I did all the fighting I wanted to do when I was a kid; and I didn’t dig it then either, you know, I mean, it was never a gas, it was never a good trip, and it’s never a good trip to find yourself surrounded by National Guard cats with guns and all that shit, man, and police all over the place and cats throwing bottles and – you know, all that, all that shit was coming down, coming down real heavy, you know – it was mostly happening on the cops on one hand who didn’t really live there, have too much to do with it, you know, the tax squad and stuff like that, and the people from out of town who weren’t even – who didn’t live there, so didn’t have to pick up broken glass or didn’t have to, you know, keep the kids out of it, you know, or, you know, any of that; I mean, there was a lot going on. So shit, we just split.
Lydon: Did you […] as long as you could…
Garcia: Oh yeah, yeah, we stayed there as long as we could, and we did, you know, we did what we could, but it got to be where any kind of […] any kind of thing happening was some kind of hassle, you know, some kind of meeting or political kind of thing, that was – you know, it just wasn’t [called for], it wasn’t necessary; it was crazy. You know, we would go down and play on the street, and we’d go down and play in the park, you know, just to get everybody off the streets, and the tourists – if the tourists don’t have anything to look at, they go home, man – that was like, there was a lot of easy ways to solve all those problems, I think, just by being cool, you know, not by – and so you can avoid the whole problem of having to hassle somebody, and having to be hassled yourself, and maybe eventually ending up in the joint, you know, which is where all that shit inevitably leads, you know.
Lydon: Did you feel at least a sense of, to some extent, political responsibility, a sense of community that was endangered that you could – did you feel a community sense then, that eventually became impossible?
Garcia: Well, most of the people who were – like our friends, most of our friends, were splitting anyway, you know, I mean, just getting out of town and everything, it’s like – the community is larger than the Haight-Ashbury; the community that is concerned with itself, and concerned with each part of itself, is way bigger than the Haight-Ashbury, you know, it’s bigger than the Be-In, bigger than any of those scenes, there’s a lot of people; and most of the people are cool enough to be able to find a way it is that’s groovy for them to live, they don’t need to be told or pointed the way or any of that bullshit; and anybody who does that is just calling attention to themselves and their own trip, which is just another trip, as far as anybody’s concerned, you know; everybody’s trip is as good as everybody else’s, you know; so some cat comes up and tells you “let’s get the heat out of the Haight-Ashbury,” you know, it’s like, “go ahead, man, (laughs) I’d rather leave myself, you know, you guys can have the Haight-Ashbury” – you know, because like now, the result is the Haight-Ashbury is just another neighborhood, but heads are everywhere, man, all over San Francisco, all over Marin County, and all over the peninsula, you know, the east bay, everywhere, you know - and then the hassles are, of course, big – like in Berkeley there’s that hassle going on – there was the hassle at San Francisco State, and it’s like anybody who wants to hassle can find something to hassle about, and they can be righteous or, you know, however you want to go into it, you know. It seems like, to me, the way it seems is that anything you’re doing is okay as long as it’s not making you uptight, or endangering you, I mean, you know, unless that’s what you wanna do; and why put yourself in a position of, you know, being about to go to jail – jail’s a terrible place, man. There’s nothing much but bummers to be learned in jail. (Lydon: Yeah, right.) And all that, you know. And it’s like, unless you think you have – if you think you have something that’s really important, you know, that really merits leading people, using whatever you are to lead people, you know, that’s cool too, I guess, you know; but that’s certainly not my trip, you know; and there was – see, the groovy thing about the Haight-Ashbury and about that whole thing was, there was something spontaneous happening there, it didn’t have any leaders, man, it didn’t have any spokesmen, it’s like the spokesman was whoever you stopped, you know, and talked to was the spokesman; and like any spokesman was as righteous as any other spokesman, you know what I mean; and it’s like, there was none of that stuff going on, no hierarchies, no bullshit, you know; and all that – all those kind of things came later, and they’re still, you know – it’s like around here it’s cooler than it is anyplace else, cause mostly nobody […] on you, too fake; but the rest of the country is still operating on that celebrities and autographs and all that – a lot of that’s still going on.
Lydon: Right, right – do you get the celebrity rock and roll band […]  
Garcia (talking over him): Yeah – we don’t get it too heavy, right, we don’t get it – I mean, we don’t – you know, we discourage it, you know, and mostly any appearance by us is such a left-handed event, you know, that – you know. (laughs) 
Lydon (inaudible, moving tape recorder): Do you have to […] soon?
Garcia: Pretty soon, yeah, I got a meeting at –
(Tape ends.)


* * *


MICHAEL LYDON INTERVIEW (EDITED)

(microphone feedback)
Garcia: Testing, one, two. Is there a meter on there anywhere so you can judge level? If it’s distorted, it’ll be awful. Testing, one two three… Okay, let’s see, there’s the meter – no, I think there isn’t any meter.
(Tape recorder set up – voices in background, can’t make out.)
Lydon: We were talking in the car about up til you became the Warlocks.
Garcia: Yeah.
Lydon: Can you go back?
Garcia: Before that?
Lydon: No, no, continue on from there.
Garcia: Oh, sure, from the Warlocks. Oh, we were the Warlocks for, oh, six months or so; and during that time we played Big Al’s Gashouse and those kind of scenes, and bars, those Whiskey a Go Go kind of places, with fake IDs and all that shit – Weir was only 17, and Pigpen was 19. We had a whole hustle, we had to join the union and all that. The thing that was mostly going on in the music business at that time – we weren’t into the business part, we were just playing, and just trying to get gigs and keep going – and the business at that time was that whole Hollywood scene, the whole beach trip, with weird booking agents and all that kind of stuff. And we were getting to the end of the rope in that scene. We were playing six nights a week, five sets a night in those bars; and we did it to the point where it was just impossible; when we were finally tripping out all the regular clientele, there were hardly any more customers coming in. When they’d come in they’d leave clutching their ears, “Aaah shit!” We grew into this whole malicious thing, man, of just laying it on as thick as we could.
Lydon: What kind of stuff were you playing?
Garcia: Wild rock and roll, man, blues, stuff like that; but it was loud, real loud; even for those days it was extremely loud, and for a bar it was ridiculous – people had to scream at each other and all that. And that’s how we really started getting louder and louder. And then at that time –
Lydon: The numbers you put the people through.
Garcia: Yeah, right, right – just isolate ‘em. And at that time Kesey was doing his scenes up at his house in La Honda; on Saturdays they would all get stoned, and coming on to all that shit. And we had friends that were living up there, and they had friends that were living down with us, and it was back and forth; until finally it was, “Why don’t we get together and have a party, you guys bring your instruments and stuff and play?” And they’d set up all their tapes and all that bullshit, and we would all go and get stoned. And it was essentially formless; there was nothing really going on, we’d just go there and make something of it. And then we just sort of dropped out completely of the straight music thing; we didn’t take any more of those kind of gigs, we just played the acid tests. The trip of the acid test was it was gonna be every Saturday night, it was gonna be a different place every time, and it wasn’t gonna have any plan. That was what the acid test was, in fact, and that’s the way it was through its whole thing. It lasted about six months, that particular trip, going various places, and during that time we did the Trips Festival, acid test at Muir Beach, and Fillmore Auditorium. And also that was about the same time that they were having the first Family Dog shows and also the Mime Troupe benefits, which were the first time there were rock and roll scenes. The Trips Festival was the first time when all the heads around were together in one place, everybody high, and nobody paranoid; so that was the first time it opened out, in any sense. And during that time we became the Grateful Dead; that became our name.
Lydon: How’d you get that name?
Garcia: Ohhh, looking for a name… We abandoned the Warlocks; we just didn’t have a name for a while; we were trying ones out to see how they fit the ear. And we were smoking DMT over at Phil’s house one day, something like that, and he had a big Oxford dictionary; opened it up, and there’s the Grateful Dead; it said the Grateful Dead. That moment was one of those moments – everything else on the page went blank and diffuse, it was the Grateful Dead in big black letters edged in gold, blasting out – (laughter) – and it was such a stunning combination of words… And I said, “Well how about the Grateful Dead?” No, some didn’t like it – Bill Graham didn’t want to advertise us, he didn’t want to say the Grateful Dead, he wanted to say the Warlocks. We’d already played a couple of gigs and he thought we had a reputation as the Warlocks…
Lydon: It was already a thing then.
Garcia: Oh, sure, yeah, sure.
Lydon: That maybe you wouldn’t last any longer if you keep [the wrong] name.
Garcia: Right, right. See, we didn’t give a fuck. (laughter) So they just started calling us Grateful Dead as soon as we mentioned that it was a possibility; that was the one, everybody just sort of gravitated toward it, and so that got to be it.
Lydon: When did you move up to San Francisco?
Garcia: Well, we started coming up to San Francisco pretty heavy during the acid test scene, to the Fillmore, and started meeting San Francisco people. And then we went to LA, the acid test went to LA, and we did two to three acid tests down there; and then the bus went to Mexico with the Pranksters, and we stayed in LA and just practiced and goofed and got really high a lot down in this house down there; and then we came back three months later, back up to San Francisco where everybody had known us from the Fillmore gigs and Longshoreman’s, all the Trips Festivals and so forth; and we came back and started playing gigs up here. We moved to Rancho Olompali, that was the first place we had up here. And then we moved from there - we were only there for about a month or so - we moved from there over to 710.
Lydon: Who owned that? Did McCoy own that?
Garcia: No, no, it was owned by just somebody, I don’t know who it was, whoever owned it then. And they were thinking of putting up a historical monument, and stuff like that, and we managed to get it - we got together enough rent for six weeks there. And that was our first place, because we needed a place to practice and all that.
Lydon: You were talking in the car before about Cassady and all that. Is it possible to tell what the whole thing with Kesey was like?
Garcia: Ohhh…well, it depended on who you were, when you were there. It was one thing to me, there were always a lot of things to me; but I know that there are a lot of other people that it was a lot of other things for. It was open, it was a tapestry, or a mandala or something like that; it was what you made of it, essentially. The whole thing is, okay, so you take LSD and you suddenly are aware of another plane, or several other planes, or whatever, and the question is to extend that limit, to go as far as you can go in that particular area, whatever it happens to be. And in the acid test it really meant do away with old forms, do away with old ideas, try something new; and that’s the way it was. Nobody was doing something - everybody was doing bits and pieces of something, the result of which was something else. (Lydon: Oh, wow) When the thing was really moving right, it was something you could sort of dig that it was getting toward. It was some sort of ordered chaos. And the way the acid test would be was it would start off, and there would be chaos, everybody would be high and flashing and going through huge changes, and there’d be just insane chaos, during which everything would be demolished and spilled and broken and changed and affected; and after that another thing would happen. The acid test went all night long til the next morning, and all these things would happen that would smooth out within the chaos, so another form would happen; and it would all have to do with just everybody being there, sort of being responsive. And there were microphones all over; so if you were just anybody wandering around, there’d be a microphone, you could talk into it, and there would be somebody else somewhere in the building at the end of some wire, that would have a tape recorder and a mixing board and earphones and be listening in on microphones; and all of a sudden someone would turn it up because it seemed appropriate at that moment.
Lydon: So your rap wouldn’t get heard unless someone decided –
Garcia: Well, the whole thing would be affected; so you might say something into a microphone and you’d hear it come out maybe a minute later, in a tape loop somewhere else, some other part of the place; and all of a sudden there would be all this odd interchange going on, and neural connections and weird sorts… It was magic, some far-out magic, and really a gas – (Lydon: Yeah!) The thing about it was that it was people doing it all…like the light show. I remember one time, when somebody was writing, Kesey would be writing messages on a projector maybe, projected up onto a wall, and he would be writing what he was seeing, or he would write what was going on; it would go up on the board there, meanwhile somebody else would be making a comment about it on a microphone somewhere, and it would be ringing out of some speaker somewhere, and there would be all this stuff happening, exchanging back and forth. Oh, it was really far out.
Lydon: And you’d just be playing?
Garcia: Yeah, we’d be playing. We’d be playing when we were playing; when we weren’t playing we’d be doing other stuff. And we wouldn’t do sets - sometimes we’d get up and just play for two hours or three hours; sometimes we’d get up and play for ten minutes and all freak out and split; and sometimes we would just do it however it would happen. I mean it wasn’t a job, you dig? (Lydon: Yeah.) It wasn’t a job, we weren’t going to do a job. It was the acid test, wherein anything is okay, you can do anything you want.
Girl: The thing about it is nobody paid any money and nobody ever had any money.
Garcia: Right, right, there was no money, period.
Girl: And you did it all without money. (Garcia: Right.) That was the neat part about it. Did it all without any […] of money coming in at all, except for the hassle part […].  
Lydon: Before it all happened, you had been aware that maybe your music could get into that?
Garcia: Well, I’ve always been a musician, I’ve always loved to play. Where is there a form which says that you can play all you want to, but you don’t have to do any bullshit to go along with it? Before that, all there was was coffeehouses and things like that – I mean open to me as a musician. And so, there they maybe didn’t take too kindly to 45-minute guitar solos or something… It’s a timeless experience, I think, the thing about music. And when we’re playing together, the thing that we learned back there is that there is something that happens after you’ve taken the step over the brink, when you’ve gone past what you know. And then you’ve learned something new; that’s where you learn something new, that’s the thing to see. With our music, we’ve been pushing our music in that same way all along, just to get past where we are, if you know what I mean.
Lydon: One thing that’s bothered me in the records is, it’s difficult to find a sense of continuity – but it must be there.
Garcia: Well, it depends what sort of continuity you’re talking about. What records are you talking about?
Lydon: Well, just from the first to second to third – the second seems more connected to the third (Garcia: Right), and the first is a whole different number.
Garcia: Well the first one, it was the first record we ever made. And at the time, it was unreasonable for us to do what we did, which would have been one LP, two sides, one song. They would never have gone for it; it was not the thing to do with the form, right? So we made the first record of short songs and stuff that we were doing, but they were our little warm-up numbers. They were tunes, songs; and the thing we do isn’t really that, quite. We weave songs in and out, but they aren’t really - it’s not just… So anyway, the first record was songs, and that was because we were making a record, right? Viola Lee Blues was revolutionary for being ten minutes long, twelve minutes long – now, big deal. And then, so when we came up to do the second record, we thought, this time let’s do an LP record; let’s not make a record that’s gonna sell or that somebody in the record company is gonna like. And we had to live with the first record for a year and we grew to hate it. And so the second record, we kicked out the producer and got thrown out of a lot of studios for being too weird and all that shit; and finally when we settled down to do it ourselves, we were in effect learning how to make a record; we were learning about recording techniques and all that. So we assembled the thing that we were doing. We had a vision of sorts, to do one unified trip; to do an LP record, in other words. And the Anthem of the Sun is that, but it’s still too far for the man on the street to dig it. It’s a heads record, really – seems to be; I mean it has never been popular particularly, just only with our fans, with people who work at listening. (Lydon: Yeah.) People who work at listening dig that record. Well, the new record now, I’m in a different place than I was the last time; and this time, the songs, the words are Bob’s, but the melodies and all that, the way those songs grew and the way they happened was really right. Some of those songs on that album we wrote in the studio, we just went in and did it…
Lydon (talking over him): What particular song?
Garcia: Rosemary, we did in the studio – we didn’t even have any such song. We just – in 15 minutes we had that song down, it was just there.
Lydon: Wow. Did you fuck around with it after that?
Garcia: No, that’s the way we did it, that’s the way it came.
Lydon: The melodic thing that’s on Anthem of the Sun is still going in the new record.
Garcia: Right, right, well the feeling –
Lydon: That’s a nice melody in that, “he has to die” – 
Garcia: Yeah, right, right.
Lydon: Is that yours?
Garcia: Yes, that’s right, one of my melodies.
Lydon: [That’s a fine song…]
Garcia: Well you see, the place that I was trying to get at with that, that’s one of those things that just emerged. I was just sitting around playing the guitar and all of a sudden bam, there it is; and it says something to you, just the air - like certain airs say certain things to you, and that says a certain thing and there it was. And on the new record, all those songs are from that place, they’re all – I don’t know how to explain it; they’re all true – I can’t think of any other way to explain it. But they came out effortlessly, they weren’t worked on particularly, in just the conception of them.
Lydon: Your live show is so different though – in your live show…
Garcia (talking over him): Yeah well, see now – in the next month or so, we’re releasing the next album. Really, the one that’s out now, the new one, that one there, is one aspect of the two records that we’re putting out in the space of a couple of months. The next one is a double live album which is one of our live sets, it’s from the Carousel and from the Avalon – and it’s just us live –
Lydon: […]
Garcia: Right, two records, right.
Lydon: Wow. Did you jump from – is each one a thing, is each side a thing –
Garcia: Each side is a thing, and they’re also a thing all together.
Lydon: Right. Did you fuck around with that?
Garcia: No, not at all; we just did it directly the way it happened, just laid it out; and it’s the truest representation of us live, to date. It’s us live, on good nights, on the nights when the spirit was there.
Lydon: Was it that Sunday night at the Avalon?
Garcia: Yeah.
Lydon: Was that the Lovelight?
Garcia: Yeah, right.
Lydon: Oh, that was really too much.
Garcia: Right.
Lydon: Everyone get dancing.
Garcia: Right, oh, you oughta hear it – you hear everybody dance… It’s really that real thing… When we go to do a live recording thing, it’s such a number, just hassling all the equipment and getting it all set up and all, and everybody’s stoned; it’s a wonder that it gets done. And what usually happens when we get a really good night, when everybody gets really high, the recording is blown, we didn’t get the recording. But this time it was just fortuitous, it just worked out.
Lydon: How did you work in the live bit on the second record?
Garcia: Ohh – a variety of ways, man, we did all sorts of things. Frequently we would take two or three live performances of the same song, and take maybe 12 bars - for example in “That’s It for the Other One,” just after the drum part; there’s a little drum part and then it comes in. And what’s happening there is it’s four different live versions of us doing the same song, simultaneously happening, and then kind of one fading out and another one fading in; we’re sort of flipping ‘em like a deck of cards. (Lydon: Oh, wow.) So there’s that – that’s why the time is so weird, and it tumbles in those weird ways. We did a lot of things like that; we sculpted, we used the live stuff as source material; and so Anthem of the Sun is really a tape composition as much as anything else, as much as a musical composition. And then the way we mixed it is, we took each side and performed the mix; we’d run through the tape, we’d be there over the 8-track, Phil and I, and we would just play the tape, play the board –
Lydon: And getting together on it, so each one of you was doing different things – and both hearing…
Garcia (talking over him): Right, right, precisely; and we did it enough so we knew all the nuance and knew what was happening and knew kind of what we were after; and then we’d get really stoned and we’d mix it for the hallucinations. (Lydon: Oh, wow.) For what you see, for the place it takes you. And so that’s the same on the new record too – we’ve learned to do that, to mix for the little world.
Lydon: Like when you play live, it’s –
Garcia: You have to do it a different way, because it’s happening right now. When you’re doing a record, it’s like doing a painting - you’re gonna work on it and nobody’s gonna see you while you’re working on it, so your working on it is not the thing; the finished thing is the thing; so you have all that as a consideration. So it’s a low energy trip; we record in the wintertime. And then playing is something that’s happening now; it’s an expression of the now, you might say, because anybody who’s there when you’re playing is affecting the music. They can change the music by glancing at you or by dancing or by doing anything… But a record is closed, it’s finished, it’s done, it becomes something else; it’s an other thing.
Lydon: I was thinking about the problem with communication in there – when you just play live, and it’s right there – and everyone senses a very generous invitation to come on in, everybody, [we just love to play] (Garcia: Right.) On the record, by going a step or many steps further down, the communication thing isn’t as open.
Garcia: No it’s not, because the medium doesn’t allow it. See, if you include, for example, on a record, a question – let’s say there’s a question, “Who are you?” You put it on a record and put the record on, and this question will come out at you, “Who are you?” But you don’t have anybody to tell it to except a record, and you can’t… So a record doesn’t communicate that way, it doesn’t take anything in; it’s just there, right?
Lydon: It puts you – you have to get onto the [board] –
Garcia: Right, it puts you into a place, is what it’ll do. Because of the nature of sound, it’ll put you into a place, and so that’s another sort of language, you see. And communication is implicit in the whole act of playing music - it’s there on one level or another. Bob’s thing is that, his stuff communicates also, on any level that you care for it to communicate to you - it depends also how you listen to it.
Lydon: Can you describe like a verbal description of some of the places, or one of the places, or the place, on one of the songs on one of the records […] – I mean can you remember some – verbally.
Garcia: Oh, sure, sure – Dupree is a good one, it’s a very specific sort of place.  Phil sees that place, or that story as being told by the fool, the tarot card fool, that guy, and that place he is, where he’s stepping off a cliff. (Lydon: […]) Right, that whole thing; and it’s also the carnival, the midway; there’s calliope kind of going on back there, and it’s that famous story place, where that kind of mythic trip is going on. That’s what I hear in it, that’s what I hear in that melody, and that’s what the words are talking about; the words are running down that story. It’s a story, but it’s a very particular one.
Lydon: What do you see the story as?
Garcia: Well, just as the guy who goes and robs the store, the guy who goes and he’s gonna get the diamond for his honey, and the judge and all that, the famous confrontations. It’s just another way of looking at that thing, and bringing a little of the sideshow into it… The thing that I say about it is just gonna be the place it puts me - but the point is that, if that is going on in the act of creation, if you’re thinking, “this is gonna be a place, it’s gonna be a place to me,” but you can’t know whether somebody else is gonna go to that same place. But you can at least say that it’s valid, it’s a valid place for me - I experience it in a valid way, a real way. I put on the earphones and there it is, there it’s going on, they’re going through their changes there. And somebody else will hear it different, but even so, that’s where it is. I mean, if you can see yourself in something that’s put in front of you, then it works – it’s like objective art, if it’s really righteous.
Lydon: It sounds like Peter Townsend’s blind dumb and deaf boy […] living in a place of music. (Garcia: Yeah.) And music losing its quality of being […], but being just a […] of some kind.
Garcia: Well that’s the thing - music is an aspect of sound, which is an aspect of your perception of what’s going on; it’s the door out of yourself… You hear all the shit that’s going on, little sounds here and there, and they’re all in places, and you hear ‘em because you have two ears - you hear ‘em, they’re a place, there’s a thing going on. So if you snap your fingers over here, you can identify it as being over there; do it over there, you can identify it there, cause you have two ears. And when you have two sources of sound, stereo, you’re covering what hearing is, and that’s effectively painting a picture in your head. (Lydon: Yeah, right.) But the nature of the picture is up to whose head it is you’re painting in, so anybody who listens to a record sees a different picture.
Lydon: Do you consider yourself playing rock and roll?
Garcia: It’s a label, it’s just a label - it’s like, do I consider myself polite? It’s just a label, but no matter what I consider it, it still is what it is…you still hear it... I don’t consider it anything, I just consider it to be what I do. It’s just music, whatever that is, and I don’t think of it in terms of being rock and roll or an idiom – I mean, rock and roll, man, is like the ultimate non-descriptive label.
Lydon: Oh wow, I think… To me as a person, I think rock and roll isn’t a label, it’s a whole thing…
Garcia: Well what’s the thing, tell me about it.
Lydon: Wow, I think of it as a whole energy thing, a whole matrix kind of thing, like “Hail hail rock and roll, deliver us from the days of old.”
Garcia: Oh, right, right. Oh yeah, in that sense, yeah, we’re playing rock and roll…we’re still playing –
?? (interrupting): Deliver us from the days of Elvis! 
Garcia: Right! (pause) But yeah, I can dig that place – I don’t know whether it’s…  Everybody in the band has got their own idea about what we’re doing, in terms of labeling it. Shit, I don’t know – I don’t find it convenient to think about it one way or another. For me it really comes out in the experience of doing it – playing music, courting the muse. It’s my work, I think of it as my work – although my work might very well be rock and roll.
Lydon: What about the whole communication of good times, getting other people to break through – the whole impact of the Dead live?
Garcia: It’s something there for you to do. And not everybody sees us that way – in San Francisco everybody does, because everybody’s seen us so many times, everybody knows what it is we’re doing; people come mostly to get a chance to get loose. But in the rest of the country, we play concerts and people sit very politely and do all that shit. And a lot of times, some kid gets up to dance and six cops are on him… It’s different in the rest of America. It’s only really loose around here, the rest of America’s pretty weird still. But even so –
Lydon (interrupting): […] they don’t have an idea of the place that –
Garcia: They don’t have a model - they haven’t had a model. And when we go there, the most effective thing is – we go into a town, there’ll be a small amount of people who know us, because they’ve been out on the coast or one thing or another, and they’ll come, and they’ll kind of be the little microcosm to sort of instruct everybody else on what to do. But even so, man, it’s a form; it’s really gotten to be rigid. It’s stuck, it’s stuck; and the whole thing of playing in a hall, having a light show, band, and the orientation is you sit down and you watch, and the lights are behind the band so that you can see the band and the lights, and really there’s nothing happening mostly - it’s mostly watching television, large loud television. And that’s not really what we’re doing. So what we’re doing at this point in time is we’re trying to find a way to do another form, to seek another form or other forms in which you can play music so it doesn’t have to be so rigid, one way or another. This form is one that only started three or four years ago, but it started as a misapprehension of the thing that was going on at the time. You see, Graham was at the Trips Festival, he saw the things going on, and he saw a light show and band, which were the simplest and easiest things to identify, right - because it’s obvious it’s a band – what do they got, instruments up there and drums and amplifiers, and here’s these lights on the screen - why, that’s a light show. So, you take a light show and a band and that’s a formula, and that formula represents the form which has been going on now for three or four years, and it’s stuck! It’s stuck, it’s not going anywhere – it hasn’t blown any new minds. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. But really, the thing that was happening back then in the Trips Festival was not just a rock and roll band, and not just a light show, but a whole other thing. But the point was that if you were bustling around, taking tickets and hustling to get a production on, or to put a little order into the chaos, you didn’t observe the stuff that was going on. It’s a sensitive trip, really, the way it was then; it’s unfortunate that all that’s been lost. The nicest thing about that was the formlessness, because it was an opportunity for something new to happen with a large number of people – for them to be able to get together in one place, a lot of ‘em, helplessly stoned, and find yourself in a room full of thousands of people, none of whom you were afraid of. It was really far out, it’s a heavy thing – and that was the thing that really happened then; that was the start of the large scenes, people getting together and feeling good about it; which ultimately led to the be-ins and so forth, and scenes that are still going on, a good night at Winterland and all that.
Lydon: Yeah. You’ve been – I always kind of think the Dead have been working very consciously to try to keep that thing going.
Garcia: Well, we’ve been just consciously going, trying to keep our thing going – whatever it is. You can only lend so much of your energy to something that’s going on, and if nobody picks up on it, it’s not righteous. We just try and do what we can do as well as we can do it, and stay as high as we can get. On the level of, when we go onto the stage to play music, it’s an important thing, it’s an important moment, and that’s the way we enter into it, because that’s the realest… If you take the long view – say for example, the long view has been one of our [problems], we’ve taken the long view: okay, what are we trying to do, we’re trying to make it so things are a little cooler, so people can get along a little, people can have a little more fun, whatever, all those things that are missing, seem to be missing. But that view doesn’t aid you when it comes down to the moment of playing – the thing that aids you when it comes to the moment of playing is thinking your music, thinking of who you’re playing with and the music that you’re about to make, and your hands, how well are they working, how much time you’ve put in practicing and all that. It’s a real yoga thing - it’s something that you really do do when you’re doing it, and the thought comes way later, the intellectualization of it, where you say ‘this is what it was’ or ‘that’s what it was;’ cause it’s not really like that. And the thing that we’re following around is something that’s no farther away than the end of your nose – we’re just close behind our noses, following along… The thing about the whys and whats of it, probing it and stuff like that, man, there’s just nothing to say ultimately about it, except that we do it, and it seems to work the way it works - and that we don’t do it by ourselves. It’s not us generating an enormous amount of energy that we can do at any time; it’s us going to a place and being aware of the people there, and the people being aware of us, and us feeding back and forth. It’s an interactive thing, and that’s the thing, that’s the experience, really; the rest of it is talk.
Lydon: Yeah. (laughter)
Garcia: It’s really a difficult thing to talk about. I mean, I’m in this music so long that, for one thing, my only thing about music is way back… I’ve spent the last ten years of my life in music, man, and I’m covered with it. I can’t really talk about it; it’s all over, all around. It’s really hard to exteriorize it.
Lydon: How does - handling the business of it all, and [working that into the framework], is that a constant […]?
Garcia: Yeah, it is - with everything, I’m sure, just because – well, for us, we take a huge amount of equipment and four equipment guys, plus the band, plus your road manager, and that adds up to quite a few people; and our operating overhead is real high, just to move our stuff and just to get it there and just to play. So on the practical level, we don’t really make any money; we just don’t make any money at all. But what else does money do? The only thing it does is further the trip. And also, the whole business thing is, who wants to take care of business? In our whole scene, everybody in the Grateful Dead has been for the last three years nothing but heads, not a straight soul in the whole thing - certainly nobody who’s capable of taking care of business. So our business scene has always been a calamity, man - it’s not even a shock to hear that you’re $60,000 in debt. “Huh, $60,000 in fucking debt.” But it’s all going on in the paper universe, where it doesn’t – that’s another thing: if you want to go along with it and believe it and everything, there it is, as real as can be. You can go and fight with it and hassle with it and hassle with bankers and pay bills and do all that, or you can just let it go; and what we did is let it go. And so here it is, $60,000 in debt. And our whole manager thing is, Mickey’s father is now doing it; he’s fronting our whole manager thing; he’s taking charge. We’ve given him the power to do what he wants to do. His whole trip is to straighten it all out, and make it so that all is feasible, and also to help us with ideas for new forms and so forth. So right now, things are looking good, but the whole thing about money is still something weird. It’s not really what we’re doing; we’re obviously not out to make money because we aren’t even working at it. We’re out to keep ourselves happy with what we’re doing, to do what we’re doing and make it so that we dig it, so it isn’t work. So rather than work, go out for 60 days on the road doing a gig every other night, jumping all over the place like those guys do, and then coming back and dying, it’s like –
Lydon: Why do you think they do it?
Garcia: Managers don’t understand about pace, about musicians and pace… The business world as a whole doesn’t understand what it is to be someone who does something, and that everybody has their own pace at which you do stuff, and that you can’t continually put out without losing it, if you’re a musician. If I had to play 60 days in a row, gigs every night, and didn’t have a chance to practice or to listen to new music or to get some new ideas, I’d hate what I was doing by the end of that time. It would make me crazy, it really would; and it’s because I’m aware of the pace that I have [behind learning things].
Lydon: A lot of other bands, for one reason or other, accept the pace, do do that trip.
Garcia: Maybe it’s because of the bread, maybe because they dig it – some people dig the high energy thing.
Lydon: Do you think Janis does?
Garcia: Probably… I don’t know, I can’t speak for anybody else, but… Music is something I expect to be doing as long as I am doing anything… I see it in waves – there’s downhill slumps, and uphill rises, and plateaus, and all sorts of levels, all of which you go to in their turn; and it represents the large picture of what it is like to be going through your life creating stuff.
Lydon: How do you feel about the fact that you haven’t become super big time, popular, […]?
Garcia: I’m glad. (laughs) I’m glad. It’s a big hassle to be popular, just because of the attention – and all that stuff is weird, the whole thing that there’s a thing set up that says that because you play music, you’re better than somebody else, or it’s fashionable. All those levels of consideration, the hierarchy, all that stuff is bullshit. But people continue to buy that theory, and continue to accept musicians as a hierarchy; and really, musicians are just people, just doing people stuff. So there I am in St. Louis, Missouri or something like that, and some cat is talking to me about rock and roll, and about something he read in a magazine, something like that. I don’t know what the fuck he means – and it makes it so that it’s more of a burden for you to be able to communicate with anybody. It’s just there’s a whole lot of shit you gotta cut through, because they think you’re somebody you’re not.
Lydon: What about – you were saying earlier that one time you wanted to be a rock and roll star.
Garcia: That happened when I was 15. I mean that’s when I started playing, when I was 15. And that was the thing that attracted me to it; I loved the sound of the guitar, and all that shit was really far out. But the reality of playing the guitar and getting into music and all that - all of a sudden you’re different, you’re doing something different, you’re not after that initial thing, or that’s not where you are anymore. You get older, go through your changes, and pretty soon music is what you do, and you know about it – you’ve changed your energy from the one level to the other level. And the rock and roll star thing is just a drag; it never helped anybody, it never made anybody a better musician (Lydon: Right, right), I don’t think – with the possible exception of the Beatles, maybe, who if they hadn’t been encouraged by success may not have continued to create music which has been a gas.
Lydon: Or someone like Jagger, who plays the role like an instrument, plays the whole –
Garcia: Right, well in that case, that’s the matter of dealing with that in a certain way; that’s a way to deal with it. But I personally don’t wanna devote my energy to playing a role; I would rather devote my energy to music, and be able to deal with people on some simple human level. I don’t wanna be… When you get that kind of stuff, distant cousins and stuff hitting on you – somebody comes up and says, “Listen, I’m your cousin 17 times removed and my family knew yours back when.” All of a sudden here you are, you’re somebody; whereas without that title you’re just another anybody; and it’s much easier and cooler to be anybody than it is to be somebody. (Lydon: Yeah, right.) Somebody’s just a big drag, I mean, it’s just more shit you have to do, which makes it harder for you to do the thing you’re trying to do.
Lydon: Yeah. One thing – in the beginning of that Solomon Burke record ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love,’ “If everybody listened to my song tonight, I believe it would save the whole world.’ (Garcia: Right.) Do you think that way? It seems – I’ve thought that you do […] like that, […]. [you’d be on his trip kind of thing] (Garcia: Right.) So how do you connect the music thing with making people feel good, the social thing, [so that the…]   
Garcia: I don’t connect it, period. I realize that there is a connection, and I can dig it, but like I say, being conscious of that as a fact is nothing – you can’t translate that idea into music. You can’t say, “this is this idea, I can concretely translate it into music and make it come out thus,” see. That you cannot do; music doesn’t say those kind of things.
Lydon: A lot of musicians have tricks, or one thing or another, like with BB King, he can just sort of – he knows how to do it. (Garcia: Right.) During the course of the first song he’ll hit a certain note that does translate the idea –
Garcia (interrupting): Right, exactly. Well, that’s the thing, is finding those things – I think that the moments that translate the idea originally are pure, and that once you learn them consciously, they then become a device; and once it’s a device, it’s frozen – for me, that is, I’m talking about me. So, I know the trick that you do to get everybody up and dancing, the trick that you do to get a standing ovation. We’ve learned those things as a group, but you can’t rely on ‘em because they’re lies once you know ‘em. When you stumble into ‘em and everybody’s up, it’s the truth. When you know how to do it, man, it’s just like something you can do, it’s an exercise; and it’s an exercise of will, which is a weird thing. Instead, if you have all that as part of what you know about what you’re doing, that’s a consideration of musicians now is to know all those things -  that this thing will make it really exciting, and this other thing will make it another way. And they’re only there to use if it’s true and right and boss to use ‘em, and that’s only if it’s going in such a way so that that’s what happens. I mean, I don’t know if you can understand any of that – but those moments are really precious to me, man; they really are far out, when the place becomes one thing – everything, everybody in there is one thing, and it’s all really going down beautifully. It’s nothing that you want to resort to as a trick; it’s something heavier, in my opinion.
Lydon: [It’s still always…] further.
Garcia: Yeah, further, man, I mean, I don’t see any sense in doing the same thing over and over again, no matter what it is, no matter how boss it is. To me, being alive means to continue to change, to continue to learn and continue to grow and to do all that, and to not be where I was last week or two months ago or a year ago or any of that; because…it’s just not interesting to me. And I think that that’s the way – I think anybody who’s into music, or who’s a musician, and is in the process of teaching themselves about music and how to play, which as far as I can see, is a process that lasts as long as you’re alive – that’s the thing you’re doing… I can’t – again, this is a difficult thing to talk about.
Lydon: Did you read in Rolling Stone a long time ago the whole Mike Bloomfield […] thing?
Garcia: No I didn’t…
Lydon: Oh. They really put you down – I think Bloomfield particularly.
Garcia: Oh, I didn’t read it, no, what did he say? 
Lydon: Well, just said it was shit.
Garcia: Well he’s entitled to his opinions.
Lydon: […think that he could know better.] 
Garcia: Who knows, man – I mean, it might very well be that that interview might have been after he might have seen us on a night when it was shit, or depending what he was referring to. Maybe he…I don’t know. I don’t know where Mike’s head is at, really. I know that he feels very strongly about purity, a certain kind of purity it seems, because the things – not necessarily his playing, but when he does arrangements and production and stuff like that, he gets it so it’s right, for what he’s doing, I mean really righteous; and it might just be that what we do violates his aesthetic. I don’t know, I can’t really tell; you can’t know about things like that. But the thing about interviews and the thing about music is that you can say anything you want, man; it’s cool. It’s cool because the experience is such that you can like it or not like it or go out of your mind or leave in a rage or any fucking thing, I mean, it’s cool to do it – music is something you can hang any fucking thing on and it’s okay. (Lydon: Yeah.) […] Rolling Stone now, because of music, Rolling Stone has something to talk about – half the battle of life in this world is something to do, something to just pass the time away, man, just something to do. And talking about stuff is doing something. (Lydon: Yeah.) So providing an excuse for talking, man, is okay. It just means that somebody’s gonna have something to talk about; it’s all right. And so if you’re gonna put stuff out like a record or something like that, put something out that anybody can say anything about, so that it leaves a big open door for stuff to talk about instead of a little narrow door; or lots of things to talk about instead of one thing to talk about; whatever.
Lydon: Do you recall saying before about starting out in blues and country, you never got one […] thing down, like blues, the way Mike Bloomfield’s done blues?
Garcia: No, only – yeah, bluegrass music I got down. Bluegrass music and traditional music, those were the things that I was into heavy enough to be able to play them pure and righteously. When I was playing five-string banjo, I went the whole way with it; I went all the way through the body of music that existed as an example of it, and learned everything that I could from it, and played with the guys that I could play with, and that’s how I began to understand what an idiom was, what style was, and what kinds of music… Yeah, I’ve done that; in fact –
Lydon: How could you leave it?
Garcia: Because there was nobody to play with, and because there was no place to play – not on the west coast.
Lydon: Did you ever […] going to Virginia or Nashville? 
Garcia: I went to all those places.
Lydon: You did?
Garcia: Sure.
Lydon: Just on your own?
Garcia: Yeah.
Lydon: Did you find stuff to do?
Garcia: Oh, I recorded bluegrass shows and stuff like that, me and a friend of mine, Sandy Rothman, who went on to play guitar with Bill Monroe, who’s the guy who invented bluegrass music. And I got to know a lot of musicians and played with a lot of people; and I did it to my satisfaction.
Lydon: You had a personal odyssey kind of […].
Garcia: Yeah, yeah.
Lydon: How long’d you do it for?
Garcia: Oh, three months, four months, something like that. I mean actually travelling in the south and being… [mumbles] 
Lydon: Wow. And then you came [from doing] that back into the folk stuff?
Garcia: No, no, that was out toward – I mean, all these things are happening more or less simultaneously, overlapping. I started rock and roll, went to acoustic guitar, from acoustic guitar into folk music – by folk music I mean traditional music, which in this country is country music, and old-time country music from the twenties and like that – and that’s where I got into the guitar, fingerstyling the guitar, and from there into the banjo, old-style banjo playing, and then into Scruggs-style bluegrass music… You can’t live in the United States and not hear all kinds of music - you hear all kinds of music as you’re just going through your changes. You have a car radio, you hear all kinds of music; so none of it escapes you. So while I was into one kind of music, I was hearing all other kinds of music, and that was all having an effect on me… It’s all music, is what it boils down to; there’s all kinds of music, all kinds – there’s people on the street corners making music all over – weird old fiddlers in bus depots and shit like that, people like that all over, so music is everywhere; just people playing, making music of some kind or another, people on the back porch, people in church singing, that’s a big thing, music going on all around; and it’s all going on. That’s why…all those idioms and styles and different worlds of music are all melting away, man, because nobody is isolated from all the different kinds of music there are; everybody’s hearing it all now. So the guys in the Band who undoubtedly learned how to play and how to approach their instruments from rock and roll records and country music records and Ray Charles and the blues and stuff like that, do their songs like the way Aretha Franklin, a gospel singer from that tradition, does one of their songs; and Bob Dylan’s in Nashville with Johnny Cash…they’re really mixing it up, and music is getting that way.
Lydon: Yeah. Is this the first record you used a Moog on?
Garcia: Yeah, right. The first time I’ve ever used one.
Lydon: How do you think the accessibility of electronic music will come about?
Garcia: Oh, the accessibility of electronic music is a fact. They’ve been accessing electronic music for some time now – and popular, man, I’m talking about popular; I’m talking about, let’s say underground radio, FM. Every city in the United States has some kind of underground FM radio, at least one, and a lot of them have two and three; so that’s something that’s happened in the last couple of years. All those stations play at least somebody who does some amount of electronic stuff – the Beatles on their last album had that thing, Revolution No. 9 – it’s electronic! (Lydon: Yeah, right.) People are hearing that. They aren’t hearing the heaviest of it, they aren’t hearing all of it, and maybe the heaviest of it is a trifle too heavy, but it’s out…it hasn’t been ignored. And you can hear bits and snatches of it on the top 40 radio – the Monkees, everybody. Those things are the tools now for everybody; for every musician has all of music historically to choose from, because it’s all here right now in the form of records. Go into a record store, man, you can pick a century; and it’s all there, you can hear it; you don’t have to hassle with musty old documents and funky old scores and shit like that, you can hear it. (Laughter.) And that’s the thing, what you can hear, you hear, it goes into your brain and it’s in there, man, the stuff that you hear is – you know how a melody gets in your head, or some song that you heard once or twice on the radio, and there it is, and it’s locked in your brain, [until] you retain it, you catch it, you get it, and it happens to […] part of yourself - that’s how well your hearing transmits shit.
Lydon: When I first met you it was during the summer of ’67, and I spent the night – I guess I knew Danny, and I talked to Danny […] – a very ambivalent thing about the Haight-Ashbury – wanted to say “why don’t you keep it going somehow,” but not sure it could ever get that going again there… (Garcia: Right.) I’d really appreciate it if you could sort of talk about the changes in Haight-Ashbury, how you saw that, and how you saw the Dead [in relation] to it, and your eventually leaving, and the Carousel…
Garcia: Well, originally when we were there, we were just there; we were just other people on the street and around. And that’s the way it was with everybody, the guys that were doing the posters, all the other musicians; we were just freaks, just like always, and there was no distinctions made. Then, behind all the publicity in Time magazine and all that shit, the tourist hordes started coming, and the out of town kids and all that kind of stuff, and pretty soon there was a big traffic problem on the street, so the people who were on the street who wanted more freedom on the street started hassling the tourists, and the cops started hassling the people on the street, and the tourists were hassling the cops, and back and forth; and then there were confrontations and hassles and guys were putting out firebrand bullshit. And all of a sudden it was just a political trip; all of a sudden there was cops and National Guard and all that bullshit – who needs it? I mean, who wants to live in that? Where you’re living – you might want to go there to hassle, but you don’t want to live in it particularly; at least I don’t, and none of us did. So we just split, because it’s not a righteous fight; it’s just some bullshit, it’s just another kind of something to do, but it’s the kind of something to do that I don’t care to do, and I used to – I did all the fighting I wanted to do when I was a kid. And I didn’t dig it then either; I mean, it was never a gas, it was never a good trip. And it’s never a good trip to find yourself surrounded by National Guard cats with guns and all that shit, man, and police all over the place and cats throwing bottles. And all that shit was coming down real heavy – it was mostly happening on the cops on one hand who didn’t really live there, didn’t have too much to do with it, the tax squad and stuff like that, and the people from out of town who didn’t live there, so didn’t have to pick up broken glass or didn’t have to keep the kids out of it, or any of that. I mean, there was a lot going on. So shit, we just split.
Lydon: Did you […] as long as you could…
Garcia: Oh yeah, yeah, we stayed there as long as we could, and we did what we could; but it got to be where any kind of thing happening was some kind of hassle, some kind of meeting or political kind of thing, that just wasn’t [called for], it wasn’t necessary; it was crazy. We would go down and play on the street, and we’d go down and play in the park, just to get everybody off the streets, and the tourists – if the tourists don’t have anything to look at, they go home, man. There was a lot of easy ways to solve all those problems, I think, just by being cool… And so you can avoid the whole problem of having to hassle somebody, and having to be hassled yourself, and maybe eventually ending up in the joint; which is where all that shit inevitably leads.
Lydon: Did you feel at least a sense of, to some extent, political responsibility, a sense of community that was endangered – did you feel a community sense then, that eventually became impossible?
Garcia: Well, most of the people who were our friends, most of our friends, were splitting anyway, just getting out of town and everything. The community is larger than the Haight-Ashbury - the community that is concerned with itself, and concerned with each part of itself, is way bigger than the Haight-Ashbury; it’s bigger than the Be-In, bigger than any of those scenes. There’s a lot of people; and most of the people are cool enough to be able to find a way that’s groovy for them to live. They don’t need to be told or pointed the way or any of that bullshit; and anybody who does that is just calling attention to themselves and their own trip, which is just another trip, as far as anybody’s concerned. Everybody’s trip is as good as everybody else’s. So some cat comes up and tells you, “Let’s get the heat out of the Haight-Ashbury.” It’s like, “Go ahead, man. (laughs) I’d rather leave myself. You guys can have the Haight-Ashbury.” Because now, the result is the Haight-Ashbury is just another neighborhood - but heads are everywhere, man, all over San Francisco, all over Marin County, and all over the peninsula, the east bay, everywhere. And then the hassles are, of course, big – in Berkeley there’s that hassle going on; there was the hassle at San Francisco State; and anybody who wants to hassle can find something to hassle about; and they can be righteous or however you want to go into it. To me, the way it seems is that anything you’re doing is okay as long as it’s not making you uptight, or endangering you…unless that’s what you wanna do; and why put yourself in a position of being about to go to jail. Jail’s a terrible place, man. There’s nothing much but bummers to be learned in jail. (Lydon: Yeah, right.) And all that… If you think you have something that’s really important, that really merits leading people, using whatever you are to lead people, that’s cool too, I guess; but that’s certainly not my trip. And there was – see, the groovy thing about the Haight-Ashbury and about that whole thing was, there was something spontaneous happening there. It didn’t have any leaders, man, it didn’t have any spokesmen; whoever you stopped and talked to was the spokesman; and any spokesman was as righteous as any other spokesman. And there was none of that stuff going on, no hierarchies, no bullshit; and all those kind of things came later, and they’re still… Around here it’s cooler than it is anyplace else, cause mostly nobody […] on you, too fake - but the rest of the country is still operating on that celebrities and autographs and all that – a lot of that’s still going on.
Lydon: Right, right – do you get the celebrity rock and roll band […] 
Garcia (talking over him): Yeah – we don’t get it too heavy… We don’t – we discourage it; and mostly any appearance by us is such a left-handed event that... (laughs) 
Lydon: [inaudible] Do you have to […] soon?
Garcia: Pretty soon, yeah, I got a meeting at –

12 comments:

  1. Lydon's article appeared in the 8/23/69 issue of Rolling Stone. He had been at a few Dead shows at the end of May 1969; and here he talks a bit about the new album Aoxomoxoa with Garcia, which came out on 6/20/69. Garcia also mentions the Berkeley "hassle" - the protests over People's Park that took place in late May. My best guess is that this interview took place in June, or maybe July.

    Some parts I couldn't make out. [Words in brackets] are guesses, and [...] I couldn't understand.
    On the tape, I found Lydon hard to hear and difficult to make out (he talked fast and not that clearly), so there are many gaps in the questions here.
    The interview took place in someone's house - there are dishes and kitchen noises in the background, traffic sounds through a window, women conversing nearby, people walking up stairs, and various bangings and clatterings. A couple people chip in briefly during the interview, so perhaps others were listening, but generally Garcia & Lydon were left their own space without interruption.

    In my transcript, I pretty much left out "uh"s and a lot of repeated words & false starts, though not consistently. I mostly left in "like" and "you know" as a faithful record of Garcia's speech pattern, but didn't really anticipate the effect of including what must be the record number of "you know"s in one interview.
    This classic exposition of the story of Dupree's Diamond Blues is my favorite example:
    "Right, and you know, that whole thing; and that’s – it’s also the carnival, you know, the midway, you know, there’s calliope kind of going on back there, and it’s, you know, it’s that famous story place, you know, where that kind of mythic trip is going on, you know – that’s what I hear in it, you know, that’s what I hear in that melody, and that’s what the words are talking about, you know, the words are running down that story, you know – it’s a story, you know – but it’s a very particular one, you know... Well, just as the guy, you know, the guy who goes and robs the store, you know, the guy who goes and gets, you know, he’s gonna get the diamond for his honey, you know, and you know, the judge and all that, the famous confrontations, you know; it’s just another way of looking at that thing, and bringing a little of the sideshow into it, you know. I mean it’s like, you know..." (etc.)

    The best solution seemed to be to present a second version, simply ruthlessly omitting "like," "it's like," "you know," and most of the repetitions and false starts; and tidying up the grammar & punctuation so it's not all long, breathless run-on sentences (as spoken). Garcia's words are all the same, nothing but the "clutter" left out; but it makes a big difference in ease of reading.

    As you can see, Garcia was not only extremely talkative, but simply babbling much of the time. Whether he was high or what, he's not always coherent & clear with his thoughts, and sometimes goes on at length about very basic ideas. (And no transcript can really reproduce the variety of ways he uses "you know"!)

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  2. Of course Lydon also quoted many parts of this interview in his article. It is interesting to compare his quotes with what Garcia actually said. While for the most part he followed Garcia's actual words, in the article they are heavily condensed, edited, and rearranged, and frequently rephrased by Lydon - the sense is the same, but the final wording sometimes very different.
    The parts Lydon quoted: finding the name "the Grateful Dead," the early bar scene, the long description of the acid tests, being a musician, the section on music being everywhere & available on records, and the complaint about how the trips festival form was reduced to the rock-show formula.

    This is an example from Lydon's article where he most heavily adapted Garcia's quotes:
    "We are trying to make things groovier for everybody so more people can feel better more often, to advance the trip, to get higher, however you want to say it, but we're musicians, and there's just no way to put that idea, 'save the world,' into music; you can only be that idea, or at least make manifest that idea as it appears to you, and hope maybe others follow. And that idea comes to you only moment by moment, so what we're going after is no farther away than the end of our noses. We're just trying to be right behind our noses.
    "My way is music. Music is me being me and trying to get higher. I've been into music so long that I'm dripping with it; it's all I ever expect to do. I can't do anything else. Music is a yoga, something you really do when you're doing it. Thinking about what it means comes after the fact and isn't very interesting. Truth is something you stumble into when you think you're going someplace else, like those moments when you're playing and the whole room becomes one being; precious moments, man. But you can't look for them and they can't be repeated. Being alive means to continue to change, never to be where I was before. Music is the timeless experience of constant change....
    "You have to get past the idea that music has to be one thing. To be alive in America is to hear all kinds of music constantly - radio, records, churches, cats on the street, everywhere music, man. And with records, the whole history of music is available to everyone who wants to hear it. Maybe Chuck Berry was the first rock musician because he was one of the first blues cats to listen to records, so he wasn't locked into the blues idiom. Nobody has to fool around with musty old scores, weird notation, and scholarship bullshit; you can just go into a record store and pick a century, pick a country, pick anything, and dig it, make it a part of you, add it to the stuff you carry around, and see that it's all music."

    Much of this is drawn from ideas scattered through the interview, rearranged and often rewritten - some of these things, Garcia didn't quite say, though the meaning is close.
    Of course, Lydon was writing a general article on the Dead, clarifying their viewpoints for the public, not faithfully transcribing the interview - Garcia is nowhere misrepresented. Also, he talked to Garcia at other times, and it's quite possible some of these phrases are things Garcia said to him elsewhere. At any rate, the raw tape remains valuable as source material.

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  3. Lydon had been a music reporter for a few years, and had already written articles on some of the musicians he mentions here - Townshend, Joplin, BB King. He had been in San Francisco since January 1967, and (as he says here) had met the Dead then, though I don't know if he wrote any articles about them then. He clearly admired the band from the start - for instance, he wrote a rave review of their performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, one of the excerpts here:
    http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2012/02/june-18-1967-monterey-pop-festival.html

    His questions are astute, if sometimes unfocused - he concentrates on the acid tests, how the Dead communicate live, their social role in San Francisco, what they're trying to put on record, how they relate to the rock & roll scene, etc.
    He doesn't ask a whole lot of specific historical questions, so only part of this is like, say, the 1971 Rolling Stone interview where Garcia recounts the band's career in detail. There are some issues Garcia doesn't really want to go into or explain fully, which is a little disappointing since it means a lot of his answers are on the general level & not very concrete, or sometimes not even very thought-out. For instance, when Lydon asks him in a couple places about the songwriting, Garcia just seems to fall into a hole verbally until he drops the subject. In a couple other places Garcia admits he can't explain something about his music, it's too difficult to talk about - and when explaining how the Dead approach their shows, he concludes, "the thing about the whys and whats of it, probing it and stuff like that, man, there’s just nothing to say ultimately about it, except that we do it...the rest of it is [just] talk."
    In later years, Garcia would give more in-depth answers - perhaps due to experience, or repeated proddings by interviewers, or clarifying his thoughts over time. But there would always remain his reluctance to probe & analyze the Dead's music TOO deeply.

    A couple small points of interest:
    Lydon asks whether Don McCoy owned Olompali in 1966 - actually, McCoy had started a commune there in 1967, which was still running in '69. In fact McCoy turned up at the Dead's Fillmore West jam on 2/19/69, and there had been a Winterland benefit for the beleaguered commune on 3/17/69, at which the Dead may have played:
    http://lostlivedead.blogspot.com/2010/04/march-17-1969-winterland-san-francisco.html

    I'm surprised Lydon asks about the Moog on Aoxomoxoa - I hadn't even known it was used on that album (was it in the album notes?). It turns out Tom Constanten had used it. According to the book Analog Days, "Tom Constanten remembers that he treated Jerry Garcia's voice through a Moog synthesizer. The track 'Rosemary' features a heavily distorted voice with phasing and filtering, and 'What's Become of the Baby' has vocals treated, distorted, and phased." (p. 339)

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  4. Even more of a surprise, Lydon specifically asks about the "Sunday night at the Avalon" when Lovelight was played (1/26/69), even though he hasn't heard the Live/Dead tape and is only now hearing that it'll be on the album. I don't know whether Lydon was there, or if Garcia told him a story about that night sometime earlier; at any rate, the Dead's fond memory of that performance may explain why that Lovelight was used on the album - Garcia says "the spirit was there" and you can "hear everybody dance."
    He also mentions all the times the live recordings were blown, which our tapes don't seem to bear out - but the Dead's first 16-track attempt on 12/31/68 came out unlistenably distorted, and Phil recounts how the 1/25/69 16-track was missing Weir's guitar track, so they definitely had some troubles before they started getting consistently good recordings.

    Garcia says that Live/Dead will be out "next month or so." The mixing was already completed before Aoxomoxoa was finished; but for whatever reason, Warners delayed Live/Dead's release until November.

    Michael Bloomfield had criticized the Dead in his interview in the 4/27/68 issue of Rolling Stone, which is probably the one that Lydon refers to here. (At the time, Rolling Stone was very pro-Dead.)
    Bloomfield said that although he liked living in San Francisco & the people there, "“I think San Francisco music isn’t good music. Not good bands. They’re amateur cats… I don’t dig ‘Good Morning Little Schoolgirl’ by the Grateful Dead. I don’t dig Pigpen trying to sing blues; it don’t sound like blues. It sounds like some white kid trying to sing blues. It drags me, they’re not funky. They don’t have a good beat. I can’t explain it. It’s not the real shit, and it’s not even a good imitation. It’s not even like the Stones. I don’t dig the Airplane. I think they’re a third rate rock and roll band. I don’t dig Country Joe and the Fish. I find them an abomination, a fraud perpetrated on people. I don’t dig Big Brother; I dig Janis, but I think Big Brother is just a wretched, lame group of cats who she carries for no reason at all.
    Wenner: First off, the cats in Big Brother are not good at all, but Janis is just incredible.
    Bloomfield: I know man, they’re lame. Now, I saw them when she first got with them; she had to work them into shape. But you know, it’s a fraudulent scene. I don’t think that many good bands have come out of San Francisco… Too amateurish; not enough good musicians… There’s no real heavies out here at all. Casady is a pretty good bass player. Jorma is not one of the best rock guitar players… I think Jorma’s imitating me, things he’s heard… When he plays blues, he plays it sloppy… I just don’t think he’s really that good a guitar player… I don’t think there’s emotion in San Francisco blues… I sort of dug Moby Grape, cause they were tight. But they were just too slick, too superficial.
    Wenner: I especially like the Grateful Dead, ‘cause they are the essence of San Francisco, they’re just where it’s all at.
    Bloomfield: They’re San Francisco, everything that is San Francisco. They’re hip. Really, and I like them for that.”

    He did compliment a couple SF groups – Quicksilver: “a fine band” and Mother Earth: “a great band…they sound just like a gospel group, very moving.” Also, "one of the best bands I have heard was the Sons of Champlin, a San Francisco group, pretty outrageous, fantastic lead guitar player.”

    Bloomfield had been one of Garcia's idols back in '65/66, but Garcia here shows his indifference to criticism, quickly giving a couple reasons why Bloomfield might not like the Dead's music, before explaining that anything you say about music is okay. (In later years Garcia would sometimes even seem to relish hostile remarks.)

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  5. Garcia makes many fascinating observations throughout. It's unfortunate that Lydon didn't tape his account of how the Warlocks got together, but he'd tell it other times, and here we have a long early description of the acid tests and what they meant to him.
    Musically: "the thing that we learned back there is that there is something that happens after you’ve taken the step over the brink, when you’ve gone past what you know....that’s where you learn something new...with our music, we’ve been pushing our music in that same way all along, just to get past where we are."

    On playing songs live: "the thing we do isn’t really that, quite - I mean we weave songs in and out - but they aren’t really - it’s not just..." (Too bad words fail him here! But the Live/Dead album would be a demonstration of what he meant, that no studio album could duplicate.)
    It's noticeable that he praises the Aoxomoxoa songs as being written quickly & easily - "they came out effortlessly." But in later years he'd dismiss them as being laborious and hard to play... At this point Garcia was not yet a very practiced songwriter, but also (more importantly) not yet a reluctant one.

    Lydon mentions the spirit of the Dead live as being generous & inviting, "come on in," having an open line of communication with the audience. Garcia also talks about the audience feedback, and how energy is exchanged interactively: "We don't do it by ourselves... Anybody who’s there when you’re playing is affecting the music. They can change the music by glancing at you or by dancing..." (Much of Lydon's article would focus on the interaction between the band & crowd at shows - including a bad night at Winterland.)

    In an '80s interview with Gans, Garcia would also talk about his distaste for showbiz "tricks" and the Dead's refusal to use them and preference for exciting the audience 'accidentally,' as it were (which is debatable, I think - what else is Lovelight?). So that was an attitude formed early on; and we get a glimpse of Garcia's view of the Dead's 'golden moments' live: "those moments are really precious to me, man; they really are far out, when the place becomes one thing – everybody in there is one thing, and it’s all really going down beautifully."
    Garcia also mentions how at this point, the Dead's shows are only loose & free in San Francisco; in the rest of the country, "people sit very politely...some kid gets up to dance and six cops are on him..."

    I love how Garcia sums up his attitude about money and "the paper universe," and talks about how Lenny is now helping them (ha!). That's followed by how the band wants to take it easy with the touring pace and not play too much. '69 and '70, of course, would be their two hardest-touring years, largely due to Lenny's malfeasance... (By the '71 Rolling Stone interview, the Dead would finally be in a position to relax between tours.)
    He's glad not to be popular, and sees celebrity as a big drag: "I would rather devote my energy to music, and be able to deal with people on some simple human level." This never changed, but popularity would creep up on him nonetheless, and the backstage crush would soon grow out of control. By late '70 he'd be talking more bitterly on this subject, and how tired he was of the touring pace.
    His account of how "distant cousins" would hit on him reminds me of the story in the '72 Playboy article of some lady backstage claiming he was the father of her child...
    This ends with a good description of why the Dead fled Haight-Ashbury and the political turmoil.

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    1. Garcia mentions that ideally the first LP would have been "two sides, one song" - which wouldn't have been possible in 1967. (Perhaps the closest the Dead came was on the Europe '72 album.)
      But Live/Dead approaches that ideal with mostly one continuous song per side. It sounds like the Dead intended it to be a companion release with Aoxomoxoa, showing the two sides of the band - "the new one is one aspect of the two records that we’re putting out in the space of a couple of months."
      As Garcia put it in the 1971 Rolling Stone interview, "Live Dead was actually recorded about the same time we were working on Aoxomoxoa. If you take Live Dead and Aoxomoxoa together, you have a picture of what we were doing at the time... When Live Dead came out, it was about a year out of date." (Not that much!)
      Of course, by then he was lamenting that Aoxomoxoa was "our most unsuccessful record...too far out for most people." Which is what he's here in '69 saying about Anthem of the Sun - "too far [out] for the man on the street to dig...it has never been popular particularly" - but he has no complaint about the brand-new Aoxomoxoa! So we can see how his initial enthusiasm for each new Dead album keeps dimming over time til he thinks of it as a failure, as with the first record: "We had to live with the first record for a year and we grew to hate it."

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    2. Will the audio of this historic interview be posted anywhere?

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    3. You can buy it on Amazon for $9!
      http://www.amazon.com/Jerry-Garcia-Grateful-interviewed-Michael/dp/B00843SOLW
      Sorry I didn't mention that before.

      It looks like the audio is also available for subscribers at Rock's Back Pages - here is their list of Michael Lydon articles & interviews:
      http://www.rocksbackpages.com/Library/Writer/michael-lydon

      I might also mention, Amazon also has a CD of an hour-long Garcia interview from 2/11/70, done by Village Voice journalist Howard Smith, which I recommend:
      http://www.amazon.com/The-Smith-Tapes-Jerry-Garcia/dp/B00E4V0IEO

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    4. By the way, I see the interview is actually dated May 1969. Evidently Lydon heard an advance copy of Aoxomoxoa when he was with the Dead in late May; the interview must have been close to the dates he caught the Dead on tour.

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  6. Have you annotated the 2/11/70 interview? There are still several at GDAO that I need to get to.

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    1. I have transcribed the Smith interview, but made no notes.

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