This is a rerun of a post I wrote on this day LAST year, on my other blog, Sandwich Flats.
I hope you enjoy it.
07-12-87: "Once In Awhile You Can Get Shown The Light In The Strangest Of Places If You Look At It Right..."*
19 years ago today...My very first Grateful Dead concert...A day that changed my life...A day that told me that maybe I wouldn't always be so alone in this world...72,000 is a lot of people...That's around how many people were at this show... July 12, 1987: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey:Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead...Dylan and The Dead...Dylan got top billing, and probably deserved it, but this day was all about the good ole Grateful Dead for me...
Set 1: Hell In A Bucket>
West L.A. Fadeaway
Greatest Story Ever Told
Tons Of Steel
"Take A Step Back" rap
Ramble On Rose
When I Paint My Masterpiece
When Push Comes To Shove
Set2: 'Take A Step Back" rap
Playin' In The Band>
The Other One>
Not Fade Away
Set 3:W/ Bob Dylan:
Slow Train Coming
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
Tomorrow Is A Long Time*
Highway 61 Revisited
It's All Over Now Baby Blue
Ballad Of A Thin Man
Queen Jane Approximately
Chimes Of Freedom
All Along The Watchtower
The Times They Are A Changin'
E:(Dylan & The Dead) Touch Of Grey>Knockin' On Heaven's Door
* Garcia on pedal steel
I had heard their music growing up, one of my brothers and one of my sisters(My sister was also at this show with me, though she and her boyfriend were there more for Mr. Dylan) were casual fans(I'm the youngest of 6), so I knew of Workingman's Dead and American Beauty...(I remember buying my sister a copy of "For The Faithful..", a bastardized version(what did I know ? I was maybe 13 at the time) of "Reckoning" for her birthday one year.)...And Shakedown Street and Terrapin Station...But no one was a huge fan...
It's kinda funny, because what changed that for me was hearing an album that just about everybody hates..."Steal Your Face"(I believe it was Lester bangs who said "Steal Your face ? Ha ! Steal your money is more like it."), but my friend John had a copy of it on vinyl(it was relatively rare, as it was produced on United Artists records, which no longer exists-the album has since become more readily available), and I remember loving everything about it. The cover, the old skull and lightning bolt design...And the songs....Okay, the production is murky, but I still love the versions of "Sugaree" and "El Paso" and "Must Have Been the Roses" on that record...And it set me on that very important path...
Shortly after a few listens to "Steal Your Face", I decided to do some investigating into this Grateful Dead thing(This was all in 1986)...My friend John owned Blues For Allah as well, so I borrowed that. Then I took the records my brother had(American Beauty, Workingman's Dead, Aoxomoxoa, Europe '72, Shakedown Street, Terrapin Station and Anthem Of the Sun) and listened to them all. I went out and I bought "From The Mars Hotel", which quickly became my favorite(U.S. Blues, Scarlet Begonias, Ship Of Fools, Unbroken Chain, etc.)...
1986, of course, was also when Garcia got sick the first time. He slipped into a diabetic coma. Of course, he did come out of it, and that led to a renewed interest in the Grateful Dead in 1987. And then, they announced they would release their first album of new material in 7 years. Whoo-Hoo !!!
Naive Conversation from late March, 1987
"Hey, they're gonna be at the Meadowlands next week !!"
"Dude, we should go !"
Um, no. No tickets, fellas. Shows have been sold out for months. Awww...BUT, it did give us insight into how to go about getting tickets- MAIL ORDER from Grateful Dead Productions !! So we vowed to call the HOTLINE everyday until they announced the next tour, and we would get tickets.And guess what ? It worked.
We did all the special handling..Only a number 10 sized envelope, write the venue and the dates and what tickets you wanted on the outside, only a postal or American Express money order, cannot be postmarked before a certain date. We would have problems with those specifics later on, but not for these shows !!"DUDE,WE GOT TICKETS FOR THE DEAD AND DYLAN !!! WE'RE FUCKIN" GOIN !!!!!!"
"In The Dark" was released in April, I think. It was a surprise hit. They had a top ten single with "Touch Of Grey"( A song that a lot of people feel ruined everything- scenewise, maybe it did, but I must admit I still dig it as a song-it's catchy-sorry.) The Dead were EVERYWHERE !!!
We could not wait for July 12th, man. And boy was it worth it. That day had a lot of firsts for me...Drank my first beer, smoked my first joint, saw my first Dead show. Gooooooood fuckin' day, I'll tell you what.
The show was HOT. They opened with "Hell In A Bucket" into "West L.A, Fadeaway" two new tunes. They played "Bertha" and "Morning Dew" and "Playin' In The Band" and "Stella Blue" and "Loser"...One of the more vivid memories I have, is when they played "Ramble On Rose", someone down on the floor threw up, and you could see all these people dancing in a big circle around it in order to avoid stepping in it, it was hilarious.
They played two sets, and then Dylan came out, and the Dead backed him for a third set.I can't really accurately describe how I felt. My body and my mind were buzzing(and not just from weed and Coors, a few years later, when I would go to shows sober, I had just as good a time, if not better), there was an energy I felt from the music, from the crowd. It took me a while to figure it out, but it did eventually hit me(and you might want to get your air-sickness bags, because here it comes)...I belonged there. I know, it's corny, it's stupid, it's hippie-dippy, but that is how I felt, man. This was the place for me. And not the concert, per se. I mean, I saw them a bunch of times, but I never toured or anything. But the music, the "scene", the community. I felt like I could be myself, and that I could like who that person was, because here I wasn't going to be constantly told that I was weird. May sound ridiculous, but it's true. I guess you could say that The Grateful Dead set me free. And for that, my friends, I will forever be GRATEFUL.