Tuesday, November 26, 2019

MTV Interview, June 2, 1983

I don't know where this would have taken place, but the date of June 2, 1983 seems right, in between shows at the venerable Roseland Ballroom on 52nd Street and promoter John Scher's main room, the Capitol Theatre in Passaic outside of Philly.

I have gotten direct quotes on the Garcia-on-the-side (GOTS) material, and sketchily paraphrased the GD history and other stuff. The man was just so brimming with energy. Check him out around 7 minutes in to part one, talking about the amazing creativity and peculiar genius of so many Deadheads. Good stuff.

update: if you want verbatim, you can copy it from ... the published transcript. D'oh!

! ref: Blackwood, Nina. 1983. Jerry Garcia: Interviewed for MTV. Relix 10, 4 (August): 16-20.

part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-zEcX9_nXM TT 13:02

taping JG's mic

starts 0103

Solo tour. Are you having fun? 0116

JG: "Oh yeah, yeah. That's the main reason I do it."

0124 audiences solo vs. GD JG's

My audience might be just a little bit more laid back, maybe they're more ... less demonstrative, a little quieter.

in the band: John Kahn bass player my old and dear friend, keyboard player is Melvin Seals, drummer is Greg Errico, DeeDee and Jackie are my girl singers. They're good. This is a good band. I like this band a lot."

Q about banjo or pedal steel 0223

"I can't ... It's very hard for me to do more than one thing at a time as far as instruments are concerned. They're different. Acoustic guitar is not like electric guitar. For me, it's a different set of chops. And pedal steel is even more different and banjo's even *more* different. So it's hard for me to switch hats like that. I haven't got that kind of concentration ..."

0257 "I like to feel very good at one thing. For me it's a matter of doing something full tilt and not splitting my attention. I tried it at various times during my so-called career and it doesn't work. I find myself ... like when I was playin pedal steel for awhile, back with the New Riders 0315 and I was playing pedal steel for half the night and guitar for half the night -- and I found that the change in muscle development from holding a steel bar steel with one hand and wrist down and not using your fingers at all for half the night, and then going to the wrist up position and moving your fingers, it was like when I went to play the guitar my fingers felt like lead, I got cramps in my hands and everything 0339 and my guitar playing suffered terribly, it got to be really awful, I got to this point where I felt like, if I'm gonna do both, I'm gonna end up being real mediocre on both instruments, and I'm not gonna feel like I'm getting off at all. Finally, at some point, I had to decide, what am I gonna do, this full time or this other ... so I opted for the guitar. And naturally I put more energy ... I feel more comfortable and more natural wiith it.

0410 I can't switch guitars either. ... I can only play one guitar, and I have it set up very carefully, and it's me and that instrument. ... I do 'em one at a time. Any change in that is a major trauma."

0447 solo vs. GD

"There's no conflict there because I am playing the electric guitar, which I conceive of as one kind of energy, one kind of instrument. The differences in music are very natural for me. The kind of music that I play in my band is different from GD music. My solo career is this accident 0515 I never really planned on it. ... What happened was that, it used to be that when we were at home, and the GD wasn't working, I would get horny to play - I would want to play. So  I started going to these Monday night jam sessions that they used to have at this club in San Francisco called the Matrix ... And I started goin down there and playin, and that's where I met Merl Saunders and I started playin with him on a regular basis there every Monday night. 0537 And I met John Kahn there and we started playin, and we were playin there for maybe a year every Monday night, nearly, when I was in town, in a very casual way. This gradually turned into something a little more formal and so on until now. This has all been just ... it just comes from my wanting to be able to play a lot - that's really what it's about. I try not to let it be too serious, because it really isn't something ... I really don't want a solo career in that sense. I just like to play, really, is what it's about."

GD question 0640 I can't explain it

0654 a certain kind of person that likes what we do ... licorice buttermilk ... really do like it and empathize. Audience has been gradually increasing. Slowest rising rnr band in the world. Certain kind of person.

late 07 Deadhead book (Grushkin), original artwork, motorcycles, vans, every form of plastic art that I am aware of, we've had some version of ... stained glass window of Blues For Allah


truly original visions motivated by their relationship to the GD experience. Wonderful letters ... great range ... guy that's got a tattoo of me on his arm, street guy, very individual ... get letters from PhDs and astrophycisists. The range is incredible. That's what's wonderful about it.

1104 met a guy who knew a few chords, knew how to tune

1115 music career wherever I was I wasn't able to meet people ... process of little discoveries representing whole worlds of things  ... wish that I had taken lessons ... could have saved myself years of trouble

1150 bluegrass same difficulty learned banjo off the records meet a few musicians, I couldn't get involved in a musical situation that was satisfying for me because I wanted the music to be as good as the way I imagined it. So I kept trying to find niches.

1220 jug band didn't require that anybody had to be any good ... but still musical ...

1238 the thing to do get together with your friends, forget good bad indifferent or whatever ... acceptance.

part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jl85mQ49Rlw TT 14:16

meeting Phil lunatic classical composer  ... the most knowledgeable guy I've ever known ... super live wire ... during my folky period ...

0150 ran into him again when the Warlocks had started ... driving a post office truck ... all I had to do was tell him how to tune it ... he has invented the instrument ... invented a way to play ... invented a 6-string guitar ...

Pigpen 0319 father was the first R&B disc jockey in the Bay Area ... we coaxed him into it

0355 from jug band to electric blues band

0403 studio albums

0410 when we go into the studio we turn into scientists

0422 ship in a bottle (studio) vs. rowboat in the ocean (live)

0442 I see all GD albums as near misses. I see them in terms of the discrepancy between my own mental conception of what a tune should be like and ... the realization ...

the GD 0514 what we think it should be vs. what it is ... GD thing has emergent properties 0526

0531 playing live songs that take you off into the group interactions

all of them potentially could ... inventing in the moment ... even our simplest stuff is relatively free of specific, hard arrangements ... it all has a lot of improvisation ...  we deal with different forms

play long bc "takes us that long to get it together" (0640) even our short ideas tend to be kind of long. 0700 one of the troubles we've had with records

0711 films

0718 "Not really a  documentary, it's a film. Dopumentary bits to it ... More art to it than that. Structured using the form of a GD concert as a model. Like the DH book, structured like the show. I use the GD concert as an energy model. ... not a documentary in the cinema verite sense, but more than that. All of the bits of filming all have energy, levels of energy, for me it was a matter of taking stuff like a documentary ... I could use it as counterpoint or to move something along ... making those things come together as another version of the GD experience. That was the idea.

When new GD album. You can see him non-answering it the way a writer does ...

Already performing the new stuff. 0910 none of us are cracker jack composers ... our output is not prolific ... making a record is like doing a term paper. It all gets done that Friday before the test.
0950 GD video we have tunes that are tailor-made.

GD video. talk 1036 we have some tunes that might work real well

1049 GD as music of the 80s ... it's GD music of the 80s. It changes. We have ears. We let ourselves be affected. We steal from everybody. sounds and textures that belong to the 80s. 1134 is there still a 60s counterculture? JG There's an 80s counterculture. He rejects the idea of the counterculture. Down at the shallow end there are these margins and somewhere in the margin is where the GD and the DH is that we are part of. We're part of something. But it's not this banner that's this relic from the 60s. Doesn't feel that way. It isn't like that. As we moved through these periods of time ... we've never felt attached to that stuff going on around us ...

1302 what time has produced is maybe a little bit clearer focus. ... This is this gamble that we're taking. It's based on having faith that there exist ... it's all been working. Together for awhile. yeah, yeah 1340 It feels like we're just startin' to get it. Yeah, we're so close. As long as it keeps having that feeling that makes it exciting, something that only we can get at.

Thank you. End interview.

JGMF: Once he gets rolling, he is just Cheshire-grinning ... so fired up!


  1. Garcia says: "When I was playing pedal steel for half the night and guitar for half the night...when I went to play the guitar my fingers felt like lead, I got cramps in my hands and everything and my guitar playing suffered terribly, it got to be really awful."

    You'd think he would have noticed that before 1971. I wonder when was the first interview he mentions this, since I don't remember him bringing it up publicly when he was still in the New Riders. (Maybe he did and I missed it.) Odd to think of him going through almost all of 1970-71 with hand cramps, leaden fingers, and terrible guitar playing....I suspect it seemed worse in retrospect.

    1. Yeah, a great many 1970-1971 Dead shows and I disagree with his self-assessment of the quality of his electric guitar work. On the other hand, maybe that's why 1971 is so jam-light?


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