Unofficial 31 Days of Dead – 2012 Edition: Day One

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Welcome back to the third installment of “The Unofficial 31 Days of Dead.” The past two years were so much fun that I decided to do it again. The idea for these compilations came about after ran its “30 Days of Dead” in November 2010. While the Deadhead community at large was no doubt thrilled to receive previously unreleased tracks from the band’s vast archives, many of us were hoping for just a bit…more.  Hey, we are Deadheads – we are always hoping for more! Therefore, I thought it might be fun to keep the music flowing by selecting my own daily picks. The month of December seemed more than appropriate since New Year’s Eve celebrations were such a big part of the Grateful Dead. Let’s think of these daily picks as an advent calendar leading up to New Year’s Eve. Unlike the “Official 30 Days of Dead,” there is no contest here. Instead, the prize is the music and the winner is the listener.

[Artwork by Brian Levine]

The parameters of my selections are as follows:

1.      No official releases;

2.      Nothing too predictable or obvious (i.e., 5/8/77 or 8/27/72);

3.      Try to represent different eras and years

NEW in 2012:  Rather than make random selections as in past years, this year I made my selection with a specific sequence in mind so that the music will flow (relatively) seamlessly for a more enjoyable listening experience.

I hope you enjoy this year’s selections!

December 1

Introduction > He Was A Friend of Mine

4/23/69 The Ark, Boston, MA

On the heels of two sensational shows, the Dead wrap up a three-night stint at The Ark in Boston in April 1969 with an epic blowout performance.  Cries of “Speech!” and “Hear, hear!” from the stage begin. This leads to what is arguably the band’s best introduction ever. To set the scene I’ll use the narrative Joe Kolbenschlag wrote to accompany his excellent compilation of these shows titled, Steel Cut Oats Vol. #6: Raiding The Ark:

Unlike with New York’s Fillmore East, the Grateful Dead had yet to establish a solid home base in Boston – up until these three incredible nights, they had only played one other set of shows in the area occurring in late ’67. The lack of a core community in Beantown was made clear before the band kicks off the first night’s set. The crowd was treated to a 5 second ho-hum intro of the group simply as ‘some guys from the West Coast’. Two mind-bending shows later, and before the final night began, the same announcer sheepishly addressed the crowd with one of the most appreciative, stoned, and over-excited intros I’ve ever heard – the band had clearly transformed mere ticket holders into legit fans in just a few nights.

After making such a passionate introduction it would only seem logical that the band would charge right into a well-known rocker like St. Stephen, Not Fade Away, or Hard To Handle.  Wrong!  The band was too young and smart-assed to engage in such predictable behavior.  Instead, they did the opposite by easing into “He Was A Friend of Mine” – an obscure, mellow traditional folk song that had been performed only a handful of times.  The choice makes perfect sense if you think about the Grateful Dead’s history with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters.  Seizing the opportunity to pull a prank, the Dead were not going to let this poor guy off the hook that easy for his blunder.  Pranks aside, this long, folky opener is a joy to behold with beautiful three-part harmonies and stellar guitar work by both Jerry and Bobby.  I have always thought that this song may have been the inspiration for “Attics of My Life” which was recorded for American Beauty in 1970.  This run of shows from the Ark is the crème de la crème for 1969.  Where is the official box set?

Download Link:

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4 thoughts on “Unofficial 31 Days of Dead – 2012 Edition: Day One

  1. Dennis Reply

    Ed, thanks for putting these together. I came across them while looking for archived “30 Days of the Dead” from past years. I’ll be back to get them daily and build my library.


  2. thewaymouth Reply

    “Here, here!” Nice intro Ed, to both this year’s edition and the first track. Nice opening choice, too. So kind.

  3. thewaymouth Reply

    PS I forgot to say, I like your avatar for this. Makes me think of Dave Lemieux by the sea. High-larious.

  4. John McHugh Reply

    Thanks for sharing the music Ed, AWESOME!!!!

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