The Friday Morning Listen: The Grateful Dead – Fox Theatre, 11/30/80, 2nd Set (1980)

Thanksgiving rolls around every year and I mostly remain silent on the “Happy Thanksgiving” front. It’s not that I have nothing to be thankful for, or that I don’t wish good tidings on my fellow man. No…it’s more that, being a glass half full kind of person, those Hallmark-style sentiments just don’t come easy to me, if at all. But I do take in the wave of good will (which seems especially strong this year contrasted with the election nastiness) and am glad that the season has arrived.

But as curmudgeonly as I can be, I am thankful for many things, not the least of which is my appreciation of music. And by that I don’t mean that music merely exists (though that’s certainly part of it). It’s my ability to “get inside” the stuff, and to see connections that most people can’t. Gees, those last sentences make it sound like I’m bragging about my super-powers or something. Naw, it’s just that I never get tired of my particular brand of synesthesia, where sequences of chords can take on three-dimensional shapes, lines of melody become thin shadows projected on those shapes, and rhythms fill out the space between everything. Yes, it’s weird, but beautiful too. I wish I could explain it better.

Yesterday, I ran across this quote from Bob Dylan, speaking about Jerry Garcia shortly after his death.

There’s a lot of spaces and advances between the Carter Family, Buddy Holly, and, say, Ornette Coleman, a lot of universes, but he filled them all without being a member of any school

It’s true. Jerry was able to fit in in so many contexts, managing to find commonality between them in his own idiosyncratic way.

That quote was pulled from a very nice article by Nick Paumgarten about the Grateful Dead archives and how they continue to morph and live on long after Jerry’s passing. Nick’s college buddies had one particular Dead tape that was special to them, the 2nd set from Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, November 30, 1980. Of course, I didn’t have to go rummaging around in my box of tapes for this because the vast majority of the Dead’s live output is available for download at archive.org. I’ll have to see what all the fuss was about, though I have to say that I’m almost never disappointed with Drums->Space->The Wheel.

Paumgarten also had a quote from Phil Lesh, who said of Garcia, “Jerry had one of the most beautiful minds I’ve ever known. He would make connections between disparate thoughts and make them fit in harmonious ways.” And further, “When he played, it would be this endless stream of glorious melody.”

And that is what I’m most thankful for…that endless stream of glorious melody. A “melody” that’s composed of words and friends, loves and music.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he writes several weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.