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 dead.net 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]
Box Of Rain
9/19/87 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Box of Rain is a special song. It is the first track on one of the band’s best albums ever, American Beauty, and is one of only a handful of songs that was composed and sung by bassist Phil Lesh. It has a beautiful melody despite being written during a dark period in Phil’s personal life when his father was dying of cancer. And, for a long while it was as rare as hen’s teeth making it one of the most coveted songs by Deadheads in the band’s catalog.
Outside of its debut on September 17, 1970, it was performed live on and off between Fall 1972 and Summer 1973 before being shelved for what most fans believed would be indefinitely. Therefore, it was a huge surprise when the Grateful Dead revived Box of Rain at Hampton Coliseum in 1986. The magnitude of that bust-out ranks up there with St. Stephen, Attics of My Life, Dark Star, Cosmic Charlie and of course, Unbroken Chain. Following the Hampton Box of Rain, chants for “Phil” became as common as the “Not Fade Away” chant. And Phil was only too happy to oblige.
Here is a great version from the end of the first set at Madison Square Garden on 9/19/87. I was fortunate enough to have been in attendance that evening (and the evening prior – what a Dew!). Phil was in great spirits and sings this version with lots of gusto. This was “the spacey show” from a five-night run at MSG and Garcia’s solo during Box of Rain has just the right amount of cosmic echo to clue the audience in that they should brace for space.
Download Link: http://www.mediafire.com/?mv8nxri213l1m8j
LMA Link: http://archive.org/details/gd1987-09-19.sbd.painoman.76469.sbeok.flac16
YouTube Link for Set 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-Ov66IyitE