Ed & Lerry’s Grateful Dead Tour Journal: 12/12/73

December 12, 1973
Venue:The Omni
Show Details

Ed: Another totally solid show, but not quite stealie-worthy in my opinion, marred by a second set weather anchor. We’re still descending from the mountaintop. Couple of random notes:

  • Playin, China Cat-Rider, and Wharf Rat all were super enjoyable versions to me (also the transition from Wharf Rat into Me and My Uncle really worked for me, I actually really dug going into M&MU after Wharf Rat). I’m not sure if they are “best of” versions, or it was just once again the Context – I was listening on an airplane, and those tunes transported me out of my heinous reality and into the celestial realm of Jerry’s tear-drops
  • Which reminds me – regarding Context, and our conversation about it above –  I recently started reading David Byrne’s book “How Music Works” (love that the title is so pretentious, so perfect for Byrne) – anyway, the “Context” of music is a recurring theme for him, in fact he says that realizing that context affects music was the biggest insight he had in his life. On the very first page he wrote this: “context largely determines what is written, painted sculpted, sung, or performed. That doesn’t sound like much of an insight, but it’s actually the opposite of conventional wisdom… The accepted narrative suggests that the rock and roll singer is driven by desire and demons, and out bursts this amazing, perfectly shaped song that had to be three minutes and 12 seconds – nothing more, nothing less. This is the romantic notion of how creative work comes to be, but I think the path of creation is almost 180 degrees from this model. I believe that we unconsciously and instinctively make work to fit pre-existing formats.”.. He goes on to talk again and again about how context determines what music gets created and how it affects how we hear the music…
  • Ongoing investigation into the Straw Effect – the Jack Straw in this show itself was awesome. The whole first set was pretty tight to me, so it’s hard to gauge the specific impact this Straw had on this first set. Which is how it’s been the last few shows: they’ve been pretty tight from the first song.
  • Side note on the Straw Effect- it occurred to me based on the soundcheck files included on this show that there might be an unknown factor complicating straw effect – the band might have played jack straw during the sound check, making the show tight from get go, but we wouldn’t necessarily know unless we had the files from the soundcheck.
  • Side side note: someone really needs to create a site devoted solely to sound checks. Maybe dead essays should do this.
  • I noticed myself wishing that Here Comes Sunshine was part of this show – I missed it not being there. This tour has really opened my eyes to the awesomeness of HCS.

Ed’s favorite quote – love this argument (from http://www.setlists.net/?show_id=0904):

  • “the omni did not exist in 73 this show is probally from the fabolous fox theatre
-ga cracker”
  • “Sorry…the OMNI did exist in ’73!! What a show!!!
-I wuz there”
  • “Don’t know where ga cracker was – but I was at the Omni too. I remember, believe it or not, that Sugar magnolia totally blew me away.

-flashman13 (06/09/2008)”
  • “The Omni was there in 1973 and so was I. What I witnessed and heard changed my life forever!
-Anonymous (01/06/2011)”

For the record, according the totally authoritative Wikipedia, the omni opened in ’72 and closed in ’97.

Lerry: Totally agree with your assessment.  Very solid show playing-wise, marred by a somewhat weak setlist.  We are getting spoiled at this point.  You found some choice quotes too.  Deadheads can come up with some awesome controversies, such as whether or not a show (that has been recorded AND has people claiming to have gone) actually happened.  I’m going to go with the naysayers on this one just to mix it up. This show never happened. The Omni was not even around until 1985. I know because my brother used to live out there.

But man, on Looks Like Rain I can never get past the “But it’s alright ‘cause I love you!”  God, this song is so damn cheesy. Dentist office music.

It is interesting hearing Peggy-O develop.  (The sound check was interesting too.)  I am curious when they turned it into a ballad. We will have to see over the next few years.   This version is way better than the last one, but still sounds weird to me as a faster song.

There are two important things I’d like to take this time to discuss:
1) The straw factor.  I think that this show certainly supports this theory.  The playing was great I thought.  The setlist, particularly weather report being the anchor in set 2, was not great. Your soundcheck concept is a definite monkey wrench, but it actually could support the theory more?
2) So, here is my new challenge. Since we are investigating the effect that Jack Straw has on the playing, is there a similar song that guides Bobby’s choice in songs for the set?  Some sets, he is on another planet. Some sets, he is locked in.  If, when they play song X, does it center him enough to make good decisions and avoid rock and roll + weather songs?  We must figure this out.
The Warf Rat > Uncle transition was hot!  I definitely don’t think this Warf Rat was the best ever, but it was 73 and great.

From now on, I will ONLY listen to AUD soundchecks. I am a true Deadhead.

Favorite quotes:
“Polka time folks!” – Bobby at the start of Mexicali Blues
“The Morning Dew has Phil dropping massive bombs before the bridge and then this version takes on a sweetness with Jerry playing soft, twinkling, and lilting runs then finally explode into crashing wave after waves of rapid strumming notes.”


Next show: 12/18/73 Grateful Dead

Previous show: 12/10/73 Grateful Dead

(the deal)


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