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Saturday, February 01, 2014

His voice is fading fast: JGB at SUNY New Paltz, 11/29/77

LN jg1977-11-29.jgb.all.aud-cooper.berger.124217.flac2496

I have already posted about the fascinating setlist rarity, "Here Comes The Sun" popping up in the middle of "Stir It Up". Neat.

Beyond that, I note that this is a pivotal moment in Garcia's singing. Everything's still arranged around the highs he could hit early in 1976 and 1977. But in the meantime, The Movie et seq. has made a smoking ruin of his otolaryngological system. Even at $200 a gram around this time, Garcia seems to have been doing lots and lots of blow; John Henry himself couldn't compete against marching Bolivians in tunneling through the human sinus. I had always thought that he was doing top-shelf medical stuff, and perhaps it varied. But an interview from a year later (December 1978) finds Jerry not being choosy:

The toot is vicious, cut with meth, not with quinine, and it’s enough to rip your sinuses out. It goes straight to the forebrain – a howling blizzard of Insight and Truth. The rush is, well, chilling; your scalp tingles, a hospital sourness scours the back of your throat.  Then a Con Ed generator of electricity sizzles your synapses (Abbott 1979, 35).

There's also the three packs of Camels a day (Troy 1994, 190). I don't know how Jerry's opioid of choice, "Persian", which he smoked, may have affected things. Maybe it palliated the nose, throat and sinuses, leaving him ready to dust and maybe darn some socks ("Refreshing!"). But even so, vocal chord striation brings singing limitations. I hear all of that here, much more than I did on my recent listen to 11/23/77. His voice is fading fast -- six weeks later, in January 1978, he'd pass several Dead shows without singing -- and he hasn't trained himself nor modified arrangements to go around and through these new limitations.

Jerry Garcia Band
Elting Gym, State University of New York (SUNY)
New Paltz, NY 12561

November 29, 1977 (Tuesday)
Jim Cooper flac2496 shnid-124217

--set I (5 tracks, 55:10)--
s1t01. //Let It Rock [#6:48] [0:02] % [0:13] % [0:16]
s1t02. Stir It Up (1) [10:41] [2:16]
s1t03. I Second That Emotion [9:18] %
s1t04. ... Simple Twist Of Fate [#13:20] % [0:04] %
s1t05. /Midnight Moonlight [#12:07] %

--set II (7 tracks, 72:36)--
s2t01. [0:28] % /The Way You Do The Things You Do [9:55] %
s2t02. /Catfish John [#9:48] %
s2t03. The Harder They Come [13:41] %
s2t04. [0:04] % /Gomorrah [#6:28] %
s2t05. /Mystery Train [#8:36] [0:02] %
s2t06. /Russian //Lullaby [#13:#50] %
s2t07. Mission In The Rain [9:37] (1) [0:03] %

! ACT1: Jerry Garcia Band
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - el-g, vocals;
! lineup: John Kahn - el-b;
! lineup: Keith Godchaux - piano;
! lineup: Buzz Buchanan - drums;
! lineup: Donna Jean Godchaux - vocals;
! lineup: Maria Muldaur - vocals.


! Recording: symbols: % = recording discontinuity; / = clipped song; // = cut song; ... = fade in/out; # = truncated timing; [ ] = recorded event time. The recorded event time immediately after the song or item name is an attempt at getting the "real" time of the event. So, a timing of [x:xx] right after a song title is an attempt to say how long the song really was, as represented on this recording.

! TJS:

! db: (Cooper flac1644); (Cooper flac2496, this fileset).

! map:,+Southside+Loop,+New+Paltz,+New+York+12561&gl=us&t=h&z=16

! band: JGB #4 (

! poster:, contributed by Rich.

! tags: 1977, JGB, listening notes, Here Comes The Sun, Jim Cooper, college gigs, Elting Gym, SUNY, New Paltz, NY, rarities, drugs, vocals, songs-H

! R: field recordist: Jim Cooper

! R: field recording equipment: 2x Sony ECM22p > Hitachi TRQ-232

! R: field recording media: 1x Maxell UDKLII-C90 (Dolby B), 1x Maxell UD-C90 (Dolby B)

! R: transfer: Nakamichi Dragon (Dolby B) > Benchmark ADC1 24/96 > PC > Adobe Audition 2.0 > cd wave > flac. transfer & seeded by Rob Berger 3/13.

! R: notes: "nice aud for a gymnasium. thanks Jim"

! s1t02 (1) Stir It Up JG plays "Here Comes The Sun" melody from 8:45-9:10.

! P: s1t04 STOF JG's voice sounds shot. He is straining against range limitations, and he hasn't yet trained himself how to sing around them. This is a pivotal moment in his singing. Everything's still arranged around the highs he could hit early in 1976 and 1977. Discuss. Bottom line: late 1977, Jerry's having to adjust his singing style pretty drastically, but he hasn't quite gotten there. And, oh yeah, Simple Twist: the whole old man thing works to pretty good effect, so it's not all bad. Some nice glassy guitar picking mid-6ff. This STOF has some nice interplay between Garcia, Keith and John. Jerry laying out long paragraphs late 8 over 9-min mark. 10-minute mark Garcia is fanning very close together, a good 30-second blast, that's nonetheless under control. Yeah, hits it hard 10:45, a 5-second thing to drop the big '1' for the next verse. Well done. Pretty good version of STOF, NB no bass feature.

! R: s1t05 MM clips in

! P: s2t01 TWYDTTYD these harmony "arrangements" aren't working for me.

! R: s2t03 HTC patched drop out

! R: s2t06 RL clips in, splice @ 12:46

! P: s2t06 RL Kahn does a bass feature late 6-min mark

! s2t07 (1) JG: "See y'all later on."

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