Today In Grateful Dead History: March 7, 1981 – Cole Field House, University of Maryland, College Park, MD

dancing-bear It’s been a few days since we last spoke – I hope that all of you are doing well.

Some of the commentators on the Archive have said that Jerry was not in good shape tonight.  I don’t know if that is really the problem here, but, for whatever reason, this is a very inconsistent show.  However, there are a couple of interesting segments that are definitely worth your time.

The first one, to my ears, is the slowed down version of Candyman in the first set.  Aren’t all versions of Candyman pretty slow?  Yeah, they are, but this is a real downer, especially for the 80’s.  By downer, I don’t mean bad, by the way – just super low key.  You’ll see.

At least a couple of people have remarked that this is the longest Bird Song the band ever played.  I’m not sure if that’s the case, but it does go on for a very long, spacey time.  This is not a harmonic jam like you would hear from a 1972 or 1973 Birdsong – at some points it’s almost atonal, but it is a very unique sounding piece that presages where the band would go with the song in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

The second set really never takes off, but there is another worthwhile variation of that same kind of spaced out, sparse jam following St. of Circumstance.  This blends into Drums and eventually into Truckin’, but by then it seems as if the energy has left the building.  You’ll notice that the second set is almost entirely made up of Bob Weir tunes, so something probably was wrong with Jerry after all.  In any case, Birdsong is interesting, so there’s that.

None of these recordings is going to win any awards, but this sounds ok to me: