There is often something special about New York City shows, and our Dead of the Day from Madison Square Garden on March 10, 1981 does not deviate from the norm. The band is smoking all night, and Jerry is doing some amazing noodling and occasionally diving into a full-fledged, fire and brimstone jam. The show hauls right from the beginning with a Half-Step> Franklin’s that is so powerful they blow a speaker early on. The first set has many more nuggets with most of them delivered by one Jerome John Garcia. For instance, he has the rooster prancing all around the garden – and the wolves howling – with some crazy licks from his guitar as Bobby croons Little Red Rooster. But even amongst all the great playing, the Looks Like Rain stands out with, again, Jerry’s jamming and Bobby’s vocals evoking the full melancholy, longing, and devotion of the tune. With a first set like this, the boys would be forgiven for taking the second set off. Instead, they blow away the Scarlet> Fire opener with the jams in the Fire going off in extraordinary directions. The rest of the set smokes too with a tremendous China Doll after the Wheel and a fun little Smokestack jam at the end of Truckin’ as they transition into Sugar Mags. The night finishes off with a two-song encore that continues to thrill.
And since we have a great Looks Like Rain in the first set, I just had to share Lee Tyson's comments from the Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics on the tune. Lee reminds everyone of the skits from Dead Ahead (which were originally from the PBS simulcast of the Dead's Halloween 1981 show, which was also in NYC at Radio City Music Hall):
Al Franken and Tom Davis engaged various members in some very funny skits. Garcia, for instance, gave away his "finger, cut off as a small child" to the person who raised the most money for "Jerry's Kids." Phil did a travelogue of NYC and told the world that, while Jerry was known as Captain Trips in the '60s, he (Phil) was known as Col. Cunnilingus (a name he reported that Jackie O gave him)!
Weir was asked about songwriting and he proceeded to demonstrate that he merely took events from his life and set them to music (Franken rolls out a chalk board and gives Weir the chalk). "For instance, the song LLR has a line about 'written in the letters of your name.' That song starts in the key of G, goes to A, then goes to D, then goes to E, and ends on a C-minor. GADEC Minor was the name of this beautiful girl I knew in Prague - the Soviet tanks rolled in in '68 and I had to leave town in a hurry." Franken, amazed, says, "So the song LLR is actually about the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia? Amazing." Of course, Weir delivered this whole spiel with an absolute straight face.
I really am not sure what is funnier, Col. Cunnilingus or GADEC Minor. I am going to have to break out the DVD and give it another watch to figure it out. But before you go and do the same, take a listen to this sweet show.