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Friday, November 27, 2015

Bob Coburn Interviews Jerry Garcia, November 8, 1982




"Bob Coburn Interviews Jerry Garcia, November 8, 1982"

Garcia, Jerry, 1942-1995, “Bob Coburn with Jerry Garcia. "Rockline" radio show, hosted by Bob Coburn, broadcast on November 8, 1982. Includes an interview and phone calls from listeners [radio broadcast],” Grateful Dead Archive Online, accessed August 2, 2015, http://www.gdao.org/items/show/378595.

Garcia had two pretty good reasons to do a live (I think?) Monday, November 8, 1982 national "Rockline" radio interview with Bob Coburn.

The first was presumably to sell some tickets for the ongoing Fall 1982 Jerry Garcia Band tour (starting October 30 in Houston, ending November 15th). From November 8th, the band still had shows in Worcester, Piscataway, New York City, Hartford, college gig outside of Boston at Brandeis University, finishing at Kean College in Union, NJ. The East Coast Deadhead paid a huge chunk of the Dead and Garcia's bills, better rally the troops.

The second is that Run for the Roses (Arista AL 9603, November 1982) had dropped, and for once Garcia was "touring behind an album" that people could buy from off the shelves of their local discOmat on the way home from the show. For his last studio record, the 1978 masterpiece Cats Under the Stars (1978), work took so long that it remained undone during a putative promotional tour in March, probably not hitting shelves until a week or two after the tour ended. The Mystery Cats toured "in front of their" record, not your industry standard approach. Shocking that one sank like a stone despite representing some of Garcia's finest work, including in his songwriting collaboration with Hunter. Here, they're touring behind the record, but unfortunately, as one of Mike Myers's Scotsmen would say, "it's crap".

November 11th would find the band playing for John Scher at The Felt Forum, part of an expansion push into the City itself, courtesy (or not) of Ron Delsener. Scher was going big in 1982,[1] and one of his early successes was Garcia and Kahn, in their first ever acoustic duet gig, at the Beacon Theatre, culminating with the good Dr. John sitting in with Jerry and John for some "Goodnight Irene", on April 21st. That gig did so well (two 2,413 capacity sellouts, with gross $51,523)[2] that they made the same match in November. John Scher being John Scher --a multitalented guy who, from 1976, had basically taken over the GD's operations east of the Mississippi, and did lots more besides—he was fully locked into Garcianomics, on the recto and the verso.
John Scher Presents in New York City: Jerry Garcia Band at the Felt Foum, November 11, 1982.
John Scher Presents Program no. 270.
I don't know how many records they sold, but November 11th grossed $107,661 on two sellouts @ 4,332 capacity.[3] Not bad – not bad at all. Biggest night of the tour.

Why do I get into the reasons for this interview? Because we find here yet another instance of Garcia being utterly incapable of marketing. In January 1976, he either forgot to announce a set of his band's gigs upcoming, chose not to, or else was reminded to book them when asked live, on the radio. I think there are a few other examples I can pin down of Garcia not really even swinging and missing on the tee'd up "new record" question, but kind of dodging it. And how's this for the soft sell, answer question of who's in the band:

I’ve had a band off and on for some time now, I guess about five years now … when you have musicians that you’re playing with on a regular basis, it’s easier to communicate with them, and they’re in the neighborhood, and things like that. Actually, the tracks on the record are recorded by parts of my band, as well as my current band, over the last, um, some of the tracks on the record were recorded as long as 4 years ago, 5 years ago.[4]

It’s a long slow process. See, when I make a solo record I have to make it in between the spaces, between Grateful Dead activity. So I have to do it as I can. Sometimes they accumulate, like a snowball rolling downhill.

Now, for someone like me, this is fascinating. First, "when you have musicians that you’re playing with on a regular basis, it’s easier to communicate with them, and they’re in the neighborhood, and things like that" could have come out of his mouth in January 1976 about Keith and Donna.[5] "I just picked whoever was around" isn't going to get me off the fence about these $11 tickets. Second, hearing that some of these tracks were recorded in 1977-1978 might signal to the discerning record buyer that they found at least some of this stuff sweeping up the cutting room floor. If they didn't buy Cats when it was released, why would they buy the lesser tracks now? Third, by interstializing Garcia to the Grateful Dead, sublimating himself into the Borg, he gives further impression that the record might be rather half-assed.

Maybe he's just too honest, and can't shill the record that he may or may not feel good about. I guess I gotta respect that, even if it does thwart Global Corporation's master plan. Or maybe he just didn't get it. As McNally has recently said, "the celebrity interview, an opportunity for an artist to talk about himself and to pitch a current endeavor in as brief and efficient a manner as possible, was completely lost on Jerry".[i]



[i] McNally 2015, 9.

Other things I pull from this:
  • Influences? Freddie King. Django, and he mentions Django's physical handicap – can there be any doubt but that Garcia felt a special kinship with Reinhardt?
  • solo vs. GD: " When I compose a tune, I have a sense of what I want it to sound like. When I do ‘em for my own band, they sort of stay at that developmental level. But in the Grateful Dead, they have a tendency to keep moving. That’s true, I think, with Bob’s tunes, too."
  • dodges a religion question
  • Bashes Hank Harrison and his books; "wait for McNally's".
  • a few other tidbits, depending on what interests you


Listening notes
Garcia, Jerry, 1942-1995, “Bob Coburn with Jerry Garcia. "Rockline" radio show, hosted by Bob Coburn, broadcast on November 8, 1982. Includes an interview and phone calls from listeners [radio broadcast],” Grateful Dead Archive Online, accessed August 2, 2015, http://www.gdao.org/items/show/378595.

TT 20:10

0032 RFTR

Q Band for RFTR

I’ve had a band off and on for some time now, I guess about five years now … when you have musicians that you’re playing with on a regular basis, it’s easier to communicate with them, and they’re in the neighborhood, and things like that. Actually, the tracks on the record are recorded by parts of my band, as well as my current band, over the last, um, some of the tracks on the record were recorded as long as 4 years ago, 5 years ago.

It’s a long slow process. See, when I make a solo record I have to make it in between the spaces, between Grateful Dead activity. So I have to do it as I can. Sometimes they accumulate, like a snowball rolling downhill.

Q on musical diversity favorite type music

0153 I can’t say that I have a favorite kind of music. I have favorites. They all represent moments … a have a favorite moment to moment. … It shifts around.

[callers]

Rick Q stagnation in music new ideas?

0240 Newness, as far as music goes, is always kind of questionable.  0322 no longer regional

Rochester, Curtis
0342 GD being influenced by JGB and Bobby and the Midnites?

0356 The influences are noticeable Weir and I have have our own voices … music evolves

When I compose a tune, I have a sense of what I want it to sound like. When I do ‘em for my own band, they sort of stay at that developmental level. But in the Grateful Dead, they have a tendency to keep moving. That’s true, I think, with Bob’s tunes, too. -0454

Cary in Parkersburg, IN what Donna Godchaux is up to?

0516 recently married, recently had another child and has a band with her new husband, who’s a guitar player. We see Donna pretty frequently.

Lexington KY Gary 0544

Q Influences on guitar playing?

0608 The blues guitar player Freddie King is a guy whose work I really admired when I first heard him. He did a lot of nice instrumentals in the early sixties that had a very nice guitar tone and a very fresh rhythmic feel to ‘em. Apart from him specifically, really almost everything that I hear has influenced me one way or another. The other influence is really more spiritual, as a guitar player, that’s Django Reinhart, but I’ve never made an effort to learn his playing, in the sense of copying what he plays, or duplicating his solos. But Freddie King I really studied when I was first really getting into playing the electric guitar with the Grateful Dead.

Django was also handicapped 0730 his guitar playing is just physically difficult

More phone calls

0744 Don in LA

Q spirituality/Christianity symbolism. Tell us where you stand, spiritually.

JG laughs “Where I stand spiritually?” Somewhere between Jesus and the Devil. I really don’t know. I am fascinated by the new morality and the Moral Majority and Jerry Falwell and all that. I really feel there’s a scuffle … those people are seriously on the march for men’s minds and souls on earth. They’re seriously working at it in a way that’s fascinating to me. I don’t have a preference. I don’t have a creed or something like that. I guess I’m waiting to see what’s gonna happen. But I don’t lean in any specific direction. I’m not convinced.

Denver CO Jo-Anne 0936

The Dead Book by Hank Harrison what you thought of it?

0952 The GD collectively is really against that book. We all are. In fact, he’s got two books out on us, and they’re both full of the most amazing inaccuracies, outright lies, really. It’s maddening to have somebody reporting on your life and being wrong about it. It’s maddening because it means that people then carry around this misinformation. I’ll tell you what we’ve done to remedy the situation. 1018 A very fine biographer, a guy named McNally, who did a wonderful biography of Jack Kerouac –that’s how I met him—who’s working on a real legit biography of the GD, which is being done with full cooperation from us. The Hank Harrison books are rip-offs, frankly, on every level, really. We disapprove of them. Don’t believe any of that stuff. Wait for McNally’s book to come out.

[Truckin’] -16:05

another call Norfolk Andy 1615 goes to ODU, saw the show last Friday in Norfolk[6]… what was the reaction of the natives in Egypt?

1650 the reaction of the natives was fabulous … amazing experience … we all fell in love with the place

call from SF Steve GD Movie any future plans for film or video?

1814 Yeah, we’re gonna do some video tape stuff pretty definitely.

Call from Houston – Tom I saw you election night in Houston and I’m still smiling from the show

1835 Q what the Dead have to offer in the near future?

1850 More of the same, or more and better. More, definitely. That I know. Anything else is a mystery. That’s what keeps us going – we don’t know what’s gonna happen. But we do know we’re gonna keep on.

Lansing MI Rich – Q hard to stay together?

[losing Pigpen? Or Keith?] It’s made us a little stronger, I think. It made us a little solider. Things like that have tended to bring us together more than anything else. We’re still together and still enjoying it.




[1] Kozak 1982.
[2] Billboard, May 15, 1982, p. 34.
[3] Billboard, November 27, 1982, p. 34
[6] JGB at Chrysler Auditorium, Norfolk, VA, Friday, November 5, 1982.

8 comments:

  1. I have a feeling, one that I have not really tried to evidence, that Jerry Garcia understood marketing very well, but could not summon the necessary cynicism to actually play in the game as practised in showbiz. However, there may be a discernable conscious long term marketing concept behind the relentless college tours and free shows in key markets as Grateful Dead built its audience.

    One of Garcia's core ideas (outside of music) was that consciousness modulates reality. This theme is picked up in the interview:

    " I really feel there’s a scuffle … those people are seriously on the march for men’s minds and souls on earth. They’re seriously working at it in a way that’s fascinating to me. "

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  2. Good points, Robin. I think the college tours by this time were no longer marketing, but were actually reaping the fruits of the earlier GD efforts. The whole rise of the East Coast Deadhead thing that Weiner talks about in his JGB book.

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  3. No doubt, by '82 the show was well and truly on the road.

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  4. Ever heard this Garcia interview?

    https://youtu.be/Mj48pFBUuqo

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  5. I heard that one years ago. I once had a vision of listening to them all, on "how many could there be?" grounds. Well, the answer is almost certainly "way more than I can process".

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  6. Jerry and Django, my two favorite guitarists. I had read that Jerry was a fan of Django, but never heard it directly from Jerry except in this interview. The Blair Jackson biography mentions Jerry's last conversation with Hunter, telling Hunter that he met someone at the Betty Ford who played with Django and stayed up at night listening to Django stories. Wish I could have heard them. Any idea who it might have been?

    Regarding Django's disability even if Jerry felt some kinship with a severe hand injury, from a playing perspective the injuries were on different hands . . completely different challenge for Django to overcome on his fretting hand than Jerry who had a handy stub to hold a pick against while he'd do some picking. :-)

    Anymore info on Django appreciation to add to the Django tag? Great blog. Thanks so much!

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    Replies
    1. Garcia's earliest comment on Django can be found in this 1967 article:
      http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2013/09/1967-garcia-django.html

      "I’ve been listening to a lot of Django Reinhardt. Mostly for the guitar, you know. But I’ve learned as much from the violin player in terms of those really lovely graceful ideas."

      In a 1978 BAM interview, Garcia also said, "Django Reinhardt is like the model guitarist for me. There is so much passion in his playing, both in terms of invention and expressiveness, and you can feel his attitude, his emotion, in his playing."

      His longest remarks on Django were to Jas Obrecht in 1985:
      "I’d still follow around Django Reinhardt... I have all of Django’s records - every single one of them. Most of what he plays is even hard to understand, no matter how much I’ve listened to it, in terms of the actual technical how-it’s-happening. Because I listen to it and I hear when a note is being struck and when a note is being articulated with the left hand somehow; and he does things I don’t know how he’s doing them. I can’t imagine. You know, he’s got fingers that are about half a mile long. I mean, I just don’t know how he’s doing it. And this is with a fucked-up left hand... He was able to do runs where the middle finger crosses over the index finger. That much I’ve figured out because there are things he plays that work that way, and he couldn’t do them any other way. There’s no other way he could do them. And they’re lightning fast. His technique is awesome! Even today, nobody has really come to the state that he was playing at. As good as players are, they haven’t gotten to where he is. There’s a lot of guys that play fast and a lot of guys that play clean, and the guitar has come a long way as far as speed and clarity go, but nobody plays with the whole fullness of expression that Django has. I mean, the combination of incredible speed – all the speed you could possibly want – but also the thing of every note having a specific personality. You don’t hear it; I really haven’t heard it anywhere but with Django."
      (He goes on to praise Charlie Christian: "the other guy I would love to be able to hear live.")
      ftp://gdead.berkeley.edu/pub/gdead/interviews/JerryGarcia-complete-1985-interview.txt

      Garcia was also a fan of acoustic jazz guitarist Oscar Aleman (from whom he got 'Russian Lullaby').

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