|The cover to David Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name lp|
My focus for this post is not on the specific details of the rehearsals and the performances at The Matrix, but on how Jerry Garcia's performances with David Crosby are not only singular in Garcia's solo career, they represent a distinct fork in the road that Garcia ultimately chose not to pursue. Garcia's career apart from the Grateful Dead followed certain steady paths that Deadheads take for granted, and I want to point out not only how singular that path was, but how Garcia had the opportunity to follow a more typical solo career for 70s rock musicians, and how his brief foray with Crosby represents Garcia's brief stab at performing in a solo context more similar to the individual member of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, an approach Garcia seems to have categorically rejected.
Put simply, Garcia would always have been welcome if not actively encouraged to collaborate on stage performing original music with the members of CSNY or the Airplane, among many other friends, but Garcia chose to emphasize his guitar playing by performing 'bar music' in a setting similar to a jazz musician. The December 1970 shows with Crosby had neither a precedent nor an antecedent in Garcia's solo career, and I am going to consider them from that point of view.
The Matrix, December 15-17, 1970--What Do We Know?
The Matrix advertised 'Jerry Garcia and Friends' for three nights, December 15, 16 and 17, 1970. According to a vault tape identified in Deadlists, the third night features a brief set by the Grateful Dead themselves. The existing rehearsal tape, about 45 minutes, and the performance tape, about 67 minutes, are on a tape dated December 15, 1970. However, a remark by Crosby on the rehearsal tape about overblowing the limiters "last night" suggests that the rehearsal tape is actually from December 16. The whole subject of dating Matrix tapes is problematic, but the essence of it is that the owners of the Matrix taped everything, but due to the expense of recording tape they did not keep everything, instead simply taping over previous tapes while only preserving the 'best' stuff. The evidence (for many groups) seems to suggest that the tape boxes were only generically accurate--that is, the tape might say "Jerry Garcia December 1970" or list the first night (December 15) even though the actual tapes preserved were from a different night. I would assume that the 'rehearsal' tape and the performance tape are from December 16 or 17, and that the other nights no longer exist, nor is there reason to assume that the rehearsal and performance are from the same night. (Update: a Commenter points out that there is good reason to think that the dates may be Monday thru Wednesday, December 14-16, rather than Dec 15-17, so the December 15 may even be correct).
For that matter, do we have any certainty that Mickey Hart was actually the drummer for the Crosby sets? Garcia, Lesh and Hart tended to be the members of the Dead regularly advertised at the Matrix, but has anyone heard Hart's voice on the tape? It appears that Bill Kreutzmann played drums when the Garcia/Crosby ensemble played Pepperland a few days later (there's even a photo), so I'd be inclined to think that Billy played at Matrix. I recognize that "anything is possible," but it seems unlikely to rehearse one drummer only to play with another.
The Matrix shows had been on a Tuesday through Thursday run at the Matrix. On Monday night, December 21, the 'Acoustic Dead' were booked at Pepperland in Marin. An eyewitness did attend this show, and reported that Garcia, Crosby, Lesh and Kretuzmann played a set similar to the extant Matrix one. Although are correspondent had to leave early, the other members of the Dead were present, and it seems likely that the full band played a set. Since the Grateful Dead were booked for New Year's Eve at Winterland, contracts would have prevented them from advertising a show so near to New Year's (not to mention the December 23 benefit show at Winterland as well). Presumably, since Winterland may have already been sold out, Bill Graham Presents was able to overlook the advertising of an 'Acoustic Dead' show, particularly since it's not even certain the band played acoustically at all. I think that the Matrix shows with Crosby were a dry run for the more formal performance at Pepperland.
Jerry Garcia's Solo Career
By the time most Deadheads became really big fans, myself included, Jerry Garcia's solo career had already established its own arc. Garcia's initial solo album was seen as a separate expression of Grateful Dead music, albeit performed by Garcia himself (and Kreutzmann on drums). The main songs on Garcia were staples of the Grateful Dead concert repertoire. Garcia had also released the Hooteroll album with Howard Wales, however, and that seemed to more indicative of his live interests outside of the Grateful Dead. When Garcia played live, whether with the New Riders, Howard Wales or Merl Saunders, he never played any material that the Grateful Dead played, and the Grateful Dead never played anything from Garcia's side bands.
While Garcia's solo career took on more substance in the mid-70s, he maintained a very definite split between his solo performances and the Grateful Dead. Although there were commercial realities that made it prudent for the Jerry Garcia Band to perform few numbers associated with the Dead ("Friend Of The Devil", 'Deal" etc), by and large the repertoires were kept separate. Here and there a few cover versions crossed over (like "Let It Rock"), but for the most part the JGB and Grateful Dead were distinct musical entities. If Garcia had been willing to play "Casey Jones" and "Scarlet Begonias" with his own band, they would have been even more popular, but he chose a different road. When Bob Weir started to play out with Kingfish and later his own band, he followed Garcia's model. Weir played a few songs associated with his Dead performances ("One More Saturday Night," "Minglewood" etc) but by and large Weir's solo career also featured music distinct from the Grateful Dead.
By the mid-70s, it was fully established to Deadheads that Garcia and Weir's projects outside of the Grateful Dead would feature little or nothing from the Grateful Dead's huge catalog of songs. By the same token, a song or cover that was appealing from Garcia or Weir's bands only occasionally popped up in a Grateful Dead set. This assumption of separate repertoires was so embedded that most Deadheads took it absolutely for granted. However, Garcia's insistence on keeping his Dead and solo careers was very much in contrast to music industry orthodoxy during that period, an industry orthodoxy practiced by close musical friends of Garcia's, like David Crosby.
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Solo Careers
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were an important group for reasons that extended beyond their fine music and extraordinary success. The debut album Crosby, Stills and Nash instantly went to number one in 1969. It was a surprise when Neil Young joined the group, and a surprise when the band changed their name--how often does a band with a number one album change their name? Neil Young had released his brilliant second album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere in May 1969, and he had his own backing band, Crazy Horse. It seemed strange that he would toss that aside to share singing and writing duties with three other guys. Befitting the name of the band, it was put about in Rolling Stone and the like that Young's solo recording and performing career would continue alongside of CSNY.
Young's dual role was unprecedented, but in fact it set the template for the record industry in the next decade. Since Neil Young could be in a band and be a solo artist, that made it plausible for Paul Kantner or Jerry Garcia to do the same. Albums like Blows Against The Empire or Garcia were not seen as "breaking up the band" but as an extension of the groups themselves. Neil Young and CSNY weren't the first band to have a guy with a solo album, but they were the first to indicate that a solo and a group career could thrive simultaneously. Not surprisingly, the other members of CSNY set out to recording their own albums. David Crosby and Graham Nash started recording in San Francisco at Wally Heider's, along with their friends in the Dead and the Airplane, and this lead to the so-called PERRO sessions (Stills, meanwhile, recorded in Florida and London).
In the context of Jerry Garcia, the point to consider with respect to the solo careers of the members of CSNY was how their 'solo' material was integrated into the band. When CSNY set out on their all-conquering tour in the middle of 1970, they put on lengthy shows that featured all of their leaders. The album Four Way Street (1971) is a good representation of the breadth of their material. While the highlights of any CSNY concert were always the group's own classic songs, members of the band did their own solo material at CSNY concerts: Neil Young performed "Southern Man" and David Crosby sang 'Triad," and so on. When CSNY went on 'hiatus' for a few years, and the individual members started to perform on their own, all of them played CSNY songs in concert: Neil would play "Helpless," Crosby and Nash would sing "Marrakesh Express," Stephen Stills' Manassas would play "49 Bye Byes" and so forth. It was assumed by fans and critics alike that all of the material from CSNY members was eligible for either solo or group performances. Needless to say, the willingness to play their most popular songs was good business--Jerry Garcia's insistence that he would never play the songs he was best known for in his own concerts was yet another way in which he stood apart from his peers.
David And The Dorks (Jerry And The Jets)
Looked at in the context of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Garcia and Crosby's brief collaboration was very orthodox for the time. The extant sets at the Matrix includes a few new Crosby songs ("Cowboy Movie," "Wall Song," "Laughing"), a couple of Crosby classics ("Triad" and the rehearsal "Eight Miles High"), a Garcia original ("Bertha"), and some blues numbers, including a Grateful Dead standard ("Deep Elem Blues"). If the 'band' (laughingly called "David And The Dorks" by Garcia, onstage, and "Jerry And The Jets" by Crosby) had gone on tour, that indicates a cross section of what kind of music they would have played.
Based on the material played and Crosby's comments on the 'rehearsal' tape, the Matrix excursion seems like a Crosby project. It appears that Crosby wanted to play some of his new material live, and encouraged Garcia, Lesh and a drummer to back him. From that point of view, Garcia's participation is reminiscent of the New Riders--someone else's material, with Jerry as a sideman. However, unlike Garcia's tenure in the New Riders, he leads the band on a few songs clearly of his own choosing. I have no doubts that Crosby would have been amenable to whatever Garcia wanted to perform, and would have been more than willing to split vocals evenly with him if that had been what Garcia wanted. Whether or not Garcia saw the Matrix enterprise as a 'Crosby venture' or a 'joint venture,' Garcia would have been free to step up to the microphone to whatever extent he felt like it. Thanks to CSNY, music business orthodoxy was less fixated on the supposedly unbreakable partnership of a rock group and heading towards looser, temporary solo or duo arrangements.
Garcia and the Dead were always in a cash squeeze--what if Garcia, Crosby and Nash had decided to tour for a few dates? Crosby and Nash, as members of CSNY, were huge, and Garcia was at least a genuine rock star himself. If they had played some new material along with "Long Time Gone" and "Casey Jones," not to mention "Teach Your Children," it would have been very popular indeed. Do you think Crosby and Nash could have handled the harmonies on "Uncle John's Band?" Yeah, I think so. Garcia could have made a ton of money playing a half-dozen dates with Crosby and Nash, and he would have made really good music besides. And it's not like Garcia wasn't already playing with Merl Saunders on the side, so it wouldn't have even been more work. Certainly the record company would have loved it (Warner Brothers and Crosby and Nash's label, Atlantic, were linked corporately). Yet Garcia took the opposite tack of every other rock star in the 1970s, and kept his solo career separate.
I love the December 1970 Matrix tapes with Crosby, not least because I really like Crosby's solo album, and mainly just for the tremendous version of "Cowboy Movie," perhaps my favorite Crosby song. No one has ever asked Crosby what the specific impulse was to play with Garcia at Matrix and Pepperland, but I'm glad they did. From this vantage point, however, it's interesting to see Garcia on the edge of conventional rock stardom. Crosby, Paul Kantner, Garcia and others are recording daily at Wally Heider's working on each other's material. Indeed, some Garcia material was even recorded with All-Star lineups at the PERRO sessions. Yet he chose to record his solo album by himself, and their were no more live experiments with anyone else's original material.
I think the most revealing part of the Matrix rehearsal is when the band stops in the middle of "Cowboy Movie." There is something that David Crosby doesn't like, and they keep repeating the same phrases over and over, as Crosby strives for some unseen goal. In the time it takes to get Crosby's take just exactly perfect, Garcia would have been deep into his solo, and for Crosby's sake they kept stopping. I grant, it's a rehearsal, but by all accounts Garcia's interests in his side bands were about playing, not rehearsing, and I don't see Garcia leaning towards an ensemble that needs to rehearse difficult songs, however good they may have been, when Garcia could just be improvising.
Jerry Garcia's career outside of the Grateful Dead was longer and more productive than many musicians who didn't have a full-time band, so most Deadheads have not reflected on Garcia's choice to keep his own music distinct from the Dead, despite the implied financial penalties of doing so. In the 60s, rock bands were supposed to be like the Beatles, one for all and all for one, and a "solo album" meant that someone had left the group. Of course, record companies preferred solo albums for a variety of economic reasons, and in the 1970s, CSNY opened the door for artists to have a solo and a group career in parallel. Very few successful rock groups have included solo artists who kept their solo music separate over a long period of time--REM is the only major one that immediately comes to mind.
Yet it's plain in retrospect that Garcia made a very conscious choice to keep his own music separate from the Dead. There he was, regularly dropping by Wally Heider's to record both his own music and the music of Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, David Crosby, Graham Nash and others. The allure of playing live with some of those guys wasn't just some sort of fantasy, because we know that for a few dates in December, Garcia and Crosby actually had a little band, even if they only played three or four dates. And that band sounded great, and could have made a lot of money out on the road, even on a brief tour.
But Garcia passed on the CSNY model of solo artist, and never returned to it. Sure, here and there he sat in with some famous friend and took a guitar solo, or something like that, but I can't think of an onstage collaboration with a peer where Garcia played original music along with songs in the Dead repertory. Garcia was a nice guy, a great guitar player and a rock star, so he would have always been welcome to work with any of his famous peers in any format, but he chose not to make a plan of it. Garcia's twenty-five year commitment to his glorified bar band carved a path out of the wilderness, all the more impressive for the fact that the path began right next to the main highway of rock stardom, which Garcia willfully avoided for his own muse.
I have always been uncomfortable with the date of the 17th. Harvey Mandel was at one time booked (as appearing on a handbill) and the Berkeley Tribe listed Smokestack Lightnin'. At one time I postulated that the first night could have been Monday 14th thereby allowing Crosby's "last night" comment to be correct. The tape I recall of the Thursday show seemed more like a compilation.ReplyDelete
There was no Grateful Dead 12/17/70 Matrix show. The tape of the Dead's Matrix set from 12/17/70 is not from that date, and not from the Matrix. It is a compilation from the Dead's two Winterland shows in October, compiled in Dec 70 in preparation for the planned live album.ReplyDelete
It's been covered here:
I think it's quite possible the drummer at the Matrix shows was Kreutzmann - he was doing much more drumming in the PERRO studio sessions than Hart did. Garcia mentioned in October 70: "Me and Phil and Bill Kreutzmann have been playing with David Crosby for his album." (It was also around that time that Hart was starting to freak out, leading to his fleeing the Dead two months later, and skipping a Dead show in Jan 71.)
But it's possible both drummers were involved.
I don't recall Crosby saying anything about David & the Dorks, but Garcia did, in a comment in Crosby's book Long Time Gone. I've quoted it elsewhere, but here it is:
"We had a little band called David & the Dorks. He was the star and it was his trip that we were doing and it was right around the time he was doing his If I Could Only Remember My Name album and he was in the Bay Area a lot. One time me and Phil and Bill and Mickey, we backed up David. We did maybe two or three shows. I think they were all at the Matrix in San Francisco. They weren't announced or anything, we just went in there on a Monday night and had a lot of fun and the sound was cool. In fact, that was the core of the band that played on David's album: David & the Dorks. It was a fine band and a short-lived band. Almost legendary. We had a lot of fun.
David's one of those guys; it's really fun to play with him. He's a very giving musician, his songs are special and they're very different, so it's always a challenge to work with him. And the payoff is there when you hear it back. It sounds beautiful. Crosby has never gotten the credit he deserves as a musician. He's an uncanny singer. He has as much control as anybody I've ever seen or worked with and he's really gifted. He can do things that are truly astonishing if you give him half a chance and when he has his own head and he's in good shape, boy, he's fun to work with. He's an inspiration.
I think some of the finest playing I've done on record is on his solo album. As far as being personally satisfied with my own performances, which I rarely am, he's gotten better out of me than I get out of myself."
(Crosby in return was also quite complimentary of Garcia, as noted in my Byrds post.)
The band was much more a Crosby than a Garcia band, so Garcia was kind of a sideman here - Garcia brought in a couple brand-new songs, but they notably did not do any of the Dead's recent songs. Probably didn't even consider it! (It's worth noting that Bertha also gets the extended stop-and-start treatment in the rehearsal, as they work out a troublesome spot.)
As you say, Garcia's involvement in the band seems intentionally limited. Crosby was a notorious egomaniac, but like you I'm sure he would've balanced a few more songs of Garcia's if Jerry had wanted that. But the way Garcia refers to it - "He was the star...we backed up David" - shows us how Garcia perceived this band. Perhaps that indicates why it didn't last past the recording of Crosby's album.
It is a mystery to me why this band was so short-lived. I'm not sure if more extensive rehearsals would've deterred Garcia (the Dead, of course, would also do a lot of rehearsing in Jan 71). That didn't keep him out of the Riders or OAITW. The studio sessions with Crosby wrapped up around January, I think? - and perhaps one of the other players (Phil, or the drummer) wasn't interested in continuing the live band.
My own favorite part of the tape is Garcia's solo at the end of Laughing...
It's curious to remember that Jerry's live guest appearances with the Airplane crowd were far fewer than we might expect - and of course he never appeared with CSN that I recall. (As opposed to, say, Crosby or Stills or Jorma showing up at Dead shows.) He seems to have preferred jamming on his own terms.
LIA, thanks for all the great quotes. It seems like Garcia was definitely more of a sideman here. As you say, though, his opportunities to play live with the likes of CSN or the Airplane gang must have been plentiful, and yet he largely passed on the opportunities. Garcia seems to have been carving his own path as a solo artist from the very beginning, even if it wasn't self-evident at first.ReplyDelete
It may also be worth considering how David & the Dorks got started. It was pretty obviously an offshoot of the sessions for Crosby's album - I can just imagine Crosby saying after some studio jam, "This sounds great! Let's hit the clubs!"ReplyDelete
Though there's no evidence, my guess is the band was Crosby's idea - not only is most of the material his, but we also know he was eager to play with Garcia & Lesh.
When he was asked in spring 1970 if he'd like to work with Garcia, he gushed, "Man, I would. Now I think Jerry Garcia probably needs me like he needs a third eye. Excuse me, a fourth. He has a third. But I would be just so knocked-out to play, or sing, or do any kind of music with that dude...and he’s not the only one. What about Lesh?"
So this band seems more like a project Crosby would push than Garcia's idea. (Playing at the Matrix might've been Garcia's idea, though. Crosby was way past playing little clubs like the Matrix; in fact I doubt he had ever appeared there.)
The other thing to consider is that this band was not about playing popular songs that the audience would know. Crosby's attempt to fly Eight Miles High at the rehearsal doesn't get far off the ground - and almost all the original songs he does are new. (Triad, the oldest, would have been known to the audience only from a Jefferson Airplane album; though Crosby would also play it with CSNY.) Drop Down Mama didn't appear on an album til 1989, I think? Traditional blues tunes were the other main source for the band: Motherless Children is the kind of blues derivation Garcia would've known well, and he counters it with Deep Elem Blues - a standard the Dead had been doing often that year, but not really a "Dead song".
Instead, Garcia (along with Crosby) seems to have seen the PERRO groups as a chance to try out some of his brand-new tunes - hence, Bertha & Bird Song here, and Loser on our studio tape. Deep Elem aside, older Dead songs were apparently off-limits (much like at a JGB show).
Crosby could have pulled out any number of familiar old songs (or even CSN songs), but didn't. If we had more tapes of the Dorks, we'd know more, but my guess is that the setlists in their few shows were very limited as a result, perhaps not many more than the ten or so we know!
Which may be one reason they just did a few small-scale shows rather than trying a tour. Perhaps their ambitions didn't extend to working up more material...
I think that's right. Not sure how many stealth gigs Crosby ever did (not many, I reckon), but they very much seemed like part of Garcia's creative process, not to mention he just liked playing to an audience.ReplyDelete
There's an obscure set of rehearsals called "Bluegrass at Grisman's" which are rehearsals for OAITW and include,I believe, some proto-GASB rehearsals. So, possibly a hodgepodge from '73-'74. I have some baroque listening notes and getting back to it is on my list of things to do. My favorite moment is one where Garcia enthusiastically suggests, after a nice take of some tune, that they take it down to the Sweetwater in Mill Valley. It's a wonderful moment, not only because it's revelatory of Garcia's love of playing to an audience as opposed to sitting in someone's living room, but also of the fact that in that period such a thing was still a real possibility. It also makes one wonder whether it ever happened, since there are no Sweetwater listings until 1989/1990 ...
I know as much about this music as anybody, and I want to thank Corry342 for this high-level discussion. I agree that the drummer is probably Kreutzmann, though almost everyone gets that wrong. I also want to say that I feel a real gem of this constellation of musicians was the extended version of the studio master of "The Wall Song," an abbreviated version of which was released on _Graham Nash/David Crosby_, with a better vocal. I've tried in vain for years to convince Crosby to release it, but he feels it's too noodly. We like those noodles!ReplyDelete
Would you know anything about this appearance, or perhaps a cover band? Seems unlikely it happened as the Dead played Sept 12th in Oakland and on the 15th in Chula Vista. http://i205.photobucket.com/albums/bb214/trainarollin/DSC09154.jpgReplyDelete
Found it on this site: http://www.iorr.org/talk/read.php?1,1689917,1690092
This has been floating around. Its some sort of Photoshop fake. See another discussion here:Delete
one of the Commenters on that thread actually asked David Crosby, who said
"unfortunately it's a fake ... never happened ...never planned ...never even spoken about.... have to say I wish it had been real ...would have been some music going on"
Croz has been interviewed in two parts by BBC Radio 4 specifically about If I Could Only.. The first part is to be broadcast tomorrow Monday 2013-11-18 at 11.00 pm GMT and the second on Tuesday at 3.30 pm. He also performs parts of it live. Some of these performances are already streamable on the BBC web site but we have to wait till tomorrow for the interviews. Hopefully we will learn something new, but if not it should still be interesting listening. The programs will be downloadable as podcasts after the broadcasts but probably not from outside the UK without some jiggerypokery. The live stream should work everywhere.ReplyDelete
Well sorry, I sold you a pup there. The interviewer was not remotely interested in the album that was meant to be the subject of the program, just CSN (&Y) and sensationalism. Hopefully the audience questions tomorrow will be more relevent. Croz was in good form tho', worth a listen, just not the program that was advertisedDelete
guinness, thanks for the heads up on this anyway, I'll check it out.Delete
Despite hardly mentioning If I Could Only Remember What This Program Was Advertised To Be About here's the GD relevant stuff from it. Valuable nonetheless, a GD Guinevere connection anyone?ReplyDelete
At the start, after discussing Music Is Love with Young (bass) & Nash (congas) and one or other of them on vibes...
Wilson, the interviewer: That is the spirit in which this record was made, a lot of people dropping into the studio just contributing ideas.
Crosby: Yes, there was a lot of this. I would, particularly Garcia, who would come every night.
Wilson: This is Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead
Crosby: It would have been him, yes (audience laughter). And the Airplane and the Dead were both recording in the same complex at the same time and so whoever showed up really was the band.
Wilson then swerves the conversation away to the Byrds.
Later, 11 minutes in, discussing Guinevere
Crosby: This song goes 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, but then it goes to 1 2 3 4 5 6, 1 2 3 4 5 6, and then (plays guitar)...And I had no idea what I was doing, I just knew it worked until one of the Grateful Dead went 1 2 3 4 5 6 7, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7, 1 2... I think that flustered Stephen (Stills) slightly.
I don't think I've heard of any Dead involvement with Guinevere before.
Looking forward to "Side B" this afternoon when hopefully someone sensible in the audience will be allowed a question about the LP.
I know there was a "demo" version of Wooden Ships with Jack Casady on bass, and I think Stephen Stills kind of copied Jack's part (credit to Stills that he was good enough to do that). This implies that perhaps some member of the GD was on a demo version of "Guinnevere" and a lick was copied for the final version of the record. Fascinating.Delete
It need not imply any demo or alternate studio recording for "Guinnevere," perhaps just that Crosby was playing his new song around the Dead and they made some suggestions. That would likely have been sometime in '68.Delete
well, what you say is probably true, but I can dream, can't I?Delete
Just a minor correction: Notwithstanding what was posted at the now-defunct Jerry Site, i's actually "Jerry & The Jerks" and not Jerry & The Jets. David Crosby confirms as much in his 2004 interview with Rick Williams at KTYD in Santa Barbara. (Jerks/Dorks match due to the last three letters being the same.)ReplyDelete
Maine vs Connecticut Live StreamReplyDelete