Too Much Grateful Dead?

“…that one band could touch so many people, on so many levels, and somehow still manage to keep us all interested after so many years.”

Grateful Dead Europe and Dave's Picks Vol. 2

After amassing countless hours of officially released live Dead shows I had to stop and ask myself if I have, just perhaps, too much? And if so, why did I just go and order two more live releases from dead.net?

Back in February, Wifey got me three shows from Europe ’72: April 24 Rheinhalle, Dusseldorf (previously released as Rockin’ the Rhein), May 11 Rotterdam, and May 26 at the Lyceum, London (the last show of the tour, a large chunk of which was used on the original Europe ’72 album). She decided to leave out the fourth show on my wish list, April 26 at Jarhunderhalle, Germany (previously released in edited form as Hundred Year Hall) since just those three shows alone were 12 discs of Dead. 12 discs. I get it, it’s a lot. A whole lot.

But man, I want more.

It’s been almost 2 months now and I still haven’t even cracked the plastic wrapping on the May 26 show. I have been deeply enjoying, immensely I might add, the true beast of a show that is April 24 Rheinhalle. It smokes right out of the gate with a superb “Truckin’” and doesn’t let up until the last notes of “One More Saturday Night” ring throughout the hall. It’s so good, and so long, I’ve needed all this time just to digest it and I’m still not done with my total aural absorption.

And then there’s May 11 Rotterdam, which is simply stunning. It has been blowing my mind with superbly played songs, a devastating “Dark Star > Drums > Dark Star,” and immaculate crystal clear sound. Both 4/24 and 5/11 are so immensely awesome that I just can’t get past them. I listen to them all week long and then I listen to them again. I think about them while I’m sitting in the office not listening to them, and think about how much I want to get in my car and crank them up. Meanwhile 5/26 is sitting in my collection just waiting to unleash its most assuredly awesome sonic adventure.

So, with all that, why would I go and order two more shows? And not just any shows but the previously mentioned four disc 4/26 Germany show and the newly released, and now sold out, 3 disc Dave’s Picks Vol. 2 from July 31, 1974 at Dillon Stadium in Hartford, CT. That’s 7 more discs right there for a total of, if my math is correct, 19 discs of live Grateful Dead material in just shy of three months!

That’s a heck of a lotta’ Dead for sure. But, is it too much? Have I gone completely insane in my attempts to connect with total Zen bliss that can be found in the best versions of this song and that?

What is it about the Grateful Dead that make them so damn interesting? Well, there’s just something there, something that is simply indescribable and powerfully beautiful. It’s a feel, a vibe. It’s something that unless you’re on board you just can’t understand. I’m on board and even I don’t understand it. Do I really need to hear another version of “Playing in the Band?” Do I really need 4 shows done on the same tour, all recorded within weeks, and in some cases DAYS, of each other?

Yes. Yes, I do. Because man, I am simply hooked on the Grateful Dead.

After running a few calculations, my live Dead collection stands at 83 discs. That’s eighty-three. I know that sounds like a lot, a veritable ton, but the thing is that when it comes to live Dead, it’s not about the number of discs or the total hours (no, I’m not doing that math). No, it’s about the whole organic experience that is a single live Grateful Dead show (or at the very least, a collection of songs from specific shows).

Among those 83 discs are 25 distinct shows (thereabouts, some of the releases are compilations of multiple shows) that each have their own personality, flow, decade, sound, and uniqueness. Some I reach for to enjoy the long days of summer, while others work best on a cold Autumn night. Some are perfect in the morning, others in the afternoon. And what those shows mean to me will mean something completely different to the next person. It’s quite remarkable really, that one band could touch so many people, on so many levels, and somehow still manage to keep us all interested after so many years. There’s nothing quite like the Dead and there never will be again.

Of course, I still need to pick up the Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack from October of ’74, and there are a ton of Dick’s Picks, Road Trips, and other assorted shows I’ve missed…the obsession will surely continue.

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