So many data, so little time. One item on my lengthy "to-do" list is to try to process every Garcia interview. It's finite, naturally enough, and thus in principle do-able. In practice, well, only so many hours.
Anyway, this one is a bunch of raw tape for Rolling Stone 20th, 1987 sometime. Some really good material. Jerry seems a little uncomfortable on camera and this is not his most fluent interview, but still the sheer charismatic intelligence just jumps off the screen. There are a few neat lines in here that I really like.
Raw notes follow.
A Conversation With Jerry
1987 Rolling Stone interview uncut
grandmother listened to Grand Ole Opry when he was a kid
mother liked Hawaiian music 1:42 father was a professional musician surrounded by music all my life
The first record I remember was a record called "Gee" by The Crows. see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvmGLV_GE0M
2:19 R&B black music
the first music I heard that I thought had an identity other than R&B was Chuck Berry 3:05 when he came out with Maybelline … and that guitar … the guitar was the thing that pulled me into those records first … Chucks stuff was the first stuff that had that other added thing
successful black record would be covered by lame white
Lil Richard Fats Domino
3:56 first started playing with my cousin Danny I had taken piano lessons as a kid
electric guitar accordion story with a good big laugh 4:20 he's the one that introduced the idea of improvising to me 5:23
Beatles it was more the movies than the records their first records were so sappy, I didn't really like em that much, frankly. 6:59 but when the first movie came out Hard Day's Night had great flow, great style and the thing of fun
that's what kicked the Beatles off on the west coast in terms of the folk music coffeehouse post-Beatnik circuit
acoustic to electric 8:43 really the big thing was the addition of drummers
the folk scene continental already Cambridge NYC Denver Chicago Berkeley SF Peninsula LA 10:26 interconnected university towns that was where you worked
1142 the thing about the Haight-Ashbury was that the rent was cheap 1205 economics pure and simple
1400 amazing contrast between traditional working class musicians who could get ripped off by sharpies. GD were more educated than that. [NB artifact of postwar America!]
1443 we were never climbers in that [showbiz success] sense. We were already having fun doing what we were doing. We already knew that it had almost no commercial potential, apart from the community we were in. more good talk late 14 minute
1538 Acid Tests one of the truly democratic art forms to appear in this century
it didn't require that we be intelligible on any level
1650 the Acid Test experience gave us glimpses into the form that follows chaos. If you throw everything out, and lose all rule and stop trying to make anything happen, on any level, other stuff starts to happen.
Bay Area I've always thought it was the greatest place there is.
18-19 some Warlocks talk
late 19 story about Family Dog shows Lesh lady what this little séance needs is us
23 Sgt. Peppers
25 Bringing It All Back Home some moments of amazing poetic beauty Baby Blue that was when his songs started speaking to what the freak on the street was experiencing
27 Monterey we'd been hanging out with Hendrix before the shows etc. I knew him from when he played with John Hammond so he wasn't a complete stranger
The way it was with the friends of ours who died during that period of time, it was like most deaths, they were mostly just fuck-ups, they weren't suicides, or the culmination of a tragic existence. Janis was not that sort of person. 3136 She was a loose drug user. Like any drug user, sometimes you get more than what you think it's gonna be, and you take it, and the next thing you know, you're dead. That could happen to anybody.
3249 rock and politics I never thought it was a good idea. In the Bay Area at that time, there were two big philosophical pillars. There was the SF approach, there was the Berkeley approach. The B approach awas the politics, the endless argument, the pro-con dualism. The SF approach was psychedelic in the largest possible sense which is that everything that happens happens and that's the way it is. It lacks the polemic …
politics and music is taking something beautiful and putting it in service of something evil 3524
3830 I've always been a big fan of the classic Motown stuff of the 60s and the Muscle Shoals, Memphis, Otis, black music has a way of going in and out of bags …same as anything else
3922 the magic part of music, even today … 10% of special shit
41 it's always nice for the kids to have music. Punk music was music the kids could dig, and it was thoroughly obnoxious to adults.
4150 If commitment counts, when you're onstage, and whether you're bleeding over every note or whether you're wounding yourself physically or on whatever level [interesting look he gives], that's real. It represents a kind of commitment to music that I admire.
4237 Elvis's death had a special kind of significance for me. At the time, I was playing in a solo band of my own, and I was using Ronnie Tutt, who was Elvis's drummer. Elvis was about to go on tour, and I was having to cancel all my recording plans because Ronnie was gonna be on tour. All of a sudden, Elvis died and I got the drummer. So, in a way, it affected me very specifically.
4320 more Elvis liked the rawness of Mystery Train and Sun catalog … Elvis's power as a performer was incredible. Great about Elvis's dream of having his show be orchestra, white gospel, black gospel, roc and roll, etc. Garcia admired that.
4503 Elvis was a victim of the Judy Garland syndrome. What do you do when you've risen to absolute success. Where is there for you to go? Las Vegas? Wow, some reward. Gee, that's great: work as hard as you can, and you get to go from Mississippi to Las Vegas. It's wrong. He deserved something better. But the music world doesn't have the imagination to invent it for him, and he wasn't lucky enough to have come up with his own guidance system. He was under the influence of other people who felt they knew what he could do and what he couldn't do and what the business could open for him. He had no alternative. In some senses that's the music business's thing. It's reductive and unless you invent your own alternative for where you want to go, and how you want to improve, and how you want to contain your own improvement, it doesn't happen for you. The music business says to you 'Repeat your success, do your formula thing, and live on that, or die from boredom, or get pathetic like Elvis'. To me that's unacceptable. In that sense, Elvis is a martyr to the thoughtlessness, the mindlessness, of the music business. That's how little it cares for the performers, and how little it really cares about the music.
4840 We've been willing to sell out on some levels for a long time, but nobody's been buying!
4945 selling out, advertising, etc. "The new fascism is rock n roll."
5415 For me, music is the thing that moves me forward in my life.
56 minute Lennon talk
57 talk about Janis
59 The music belongs to the people who buy the tickets. If they want to take it home with 'em after the show's over, they're welcome to.
5945 the only thing that makes [rock n roll] happen is commercial exploitation.
6142 GD as institution: "By dint of having survived this long" …