Searching for the Sound: My Life with the Grateful Dead
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In this ruthlessly honest bestseller, the bass player for the greatest improvisational band in American history tells the full, true story of his life, Jerry Garcia, and the Grateful Dead. of photos.
Jean-Pierre told the story of the only time Bill ever visited his hideout. “I’m always telling him, come over, come over! So he finally comes over. I pick him up, take him to the house, he stays up all night talking business on the phone, and takes the morning flight back to New York. Without sleeping!” For sure, that was the Bill we knew and loved. We spent five glorious days in Thonon, shopping in Evian, boating on the lake, driving out to quaint little auberges on the back roads, plundering
out of that tinny little speaker all jungly and slithering. So I come home raving, and Dennis says, “Cool. Check this out,” and he puts on Bringing It All Back Home—containing, of course, not only “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” but five more electric Dylan songs and a side of acoustic stuff, including “Mr. Tambourine Man,” thereby blowing my mind even farther out the door. Dennis also played a lot of blues on his monster stereo, so I was getting healthy doses of music I hadn’t known a lot about
in Belmont, where we could play five nights a week. This sounded ideal to us because we had been slowly evolving a style of playing that was more extended than what was then, and now, considered by some musicians and all industry types to be the norm in rock music, even though the music that now defines that term was just then being born. My approach to the bass had solidified fairly quickly. I soon reached a saturation point with the prevalent style of bass playing, which was to stick to the
enough rehearsal, the music wasn’t moving forward to our satisfaction; Bobby, being years younger and a bit spaced, became our target. We confronted him after the show about working harder to keep up. The end result, whether because of the confrontation or not: We all played better the next night. As we later learned, it’s never that bad two nights in a row. Still, this was the first sign of dissatisfaction among us, and it wouldn’t be the last. The review of our first night still cracks me up:
scared to risk our asses on that stage. Not that we admitted that to Sam Cutler, the Stones’ road manager, when he came to see what was up; we just flat refused to play. In unison. There we stood, as the demonic red sun slid below the hills, watching ignorant armies clash by day like a battle out of Lord of the Rings, both sides so ugly you couldn’t tell the Orcs from the Urukhai. The crazed victims would rush the stage, be beaten back, and rise out of the bloody dirt to do it again—and again,