“Today” In Grateful Dead History: January 27, 1967 – Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA

skeleton&rosesThis site is premised on a fairly standard unit of time, namely the Gregorian Calendar.  Without the calendar, the entire concept of “this date in history” couldn’t exist and this site’s sole guiding spirit would dissipate and scatter on the winds.  A fixed date in history is necessary for this site’s survival.

So what happens when the calendar fails us?  Should we just throw up our hands, accept that time is likely just an arbitrary concept and call it a day?  No.  I think that when the calendar collapses, we shall hide our heads in the sand.  Like our forefathers, we will rely on myth and legend and forge a path forward until we catch up with the cycle of the seasons and the calendar again takes shape.  We shall pray that tomorrow will appear as all January 28ths have over the past millennia and we shall once again be moored on the shores of our manufactured reality.

But that still leaves us with today’s existential crisis: the only Grateful Dead show available on the Archive for this date in history likely didn’t take place on this day in history at all.

Read the comments.  They are detailed.  People are thinking deeply about this show, arguing over whether it is a composite of several dates, whether there are two drummers present, why Jerry sings a certain line in Alligator, whether the caliber of the playing could possible correlate with early 1967, whether the recording quality shifts throughout the show and a host of other variables.  Many people believe that this show comes from much later in 1967.  Some believe that the January 28th date is accurate.  But – and here is the important part – almost no one is claiming that this show (or, if you believe the composite argument, the songs that make up this “show”) didn’t take place at some point 1967 and very few people are complaining about the music.  And since we’ve decided to simply ignore the calendar in the face of this performance that exists outside of time, none of these arguments are going to matter today.  All that really matters, regardless of this site’s founding principal (and subtitle), is the music.  And the music is very, very good.

New Potato Caboose is an unfortunately named vehicle for sonic exploration, but I don’t think that any of the people in the Avalon Ballroom whose minds exited the building midway through this jam cared one bit about what it was called.

Viola Lee Blues.  A simple piece of music when it comes down to it.  But here, the Dead just manhandle it from start to finish, almost 22 minutes of total pandemonium, with some stunning beautiful passages of space trickling through the constantly moving pulse of this song.  There is a ton of feedback here, notes from the universe carried over the air in shrieks of static and indescribable sound.  This could be the best version of this song of all time, were it not for the terrible sound quality.

Alligator>Caution. Not really something that can be described – it should just be experienced, in full, without interruption.  All of the Dead’s musical elements come together here, guitars, drums, organ, bass, all melding together as one and then dividing again, rushing about the room, arriving at the same place five minutes later before diverging once more.  This is massive, heavy music from a very different place than even shows from 1968.  This exists apart from time.

Listen:  https://archive.org/details/gd67-01-27.aud.hanno.16744.sbeok.shnf


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