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Dead of the Day: March 12, 1966

Danish Center
Los Angeles, California
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The Dead of the Day is from 1966, and, really, that is all we should need to say. The Viola Lee is phenomenal with really crisp riffs and an almost pop delivery to the vocals, making it clear the Dead are still exploring their sound and at least somewhat influenced by the Top 40 radio of the day. But do not be lulled into complacency as the picking jams during the second half of the tune are lights out. As the show goes on, we get a couple of first time played songs, including You See a Broken Heart, which was not just the first time, but, also, the only time it was played. The Ice Cream Break banter is pretty humorous towards the end, and then the Dead go into another sweet blues jam in the Stormy Monday rendition that rivals the end of the Viola Lee. In all, the show is an enticing piece of early Dead. Taken as a whole, it might not be as well constructed as some others from the era, but it absolutely shows you something about the evolution of the band’s sound. This is primal Dead at its most raw, still searching for how it will rise out of the water and start walking on the land.

This night corresponds with the Acid Test at the Danish Center. Still, there is great debate about whether the setlist is correct and, to some extent, whether the band even played at all on this date. It is tremendously interesting to read the theories from Deadheads regarding which tunes are actually from March 12th as such commentary often goes into lengthy analyses of the development of a given tune and its interpretation by the Dead. Despite the interesting qualities of this discussion, though, I recommend just sitting back and listening to the music.

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