A full year of the Grateful Dead tuning up

Michael David Murphy blended together an entire year (1977) of the Grateful Dead tuning up at live concerts archived at Archive.org. It's curiously compelling. "Tuning '77"


    1. Not just for the band but the audience as well.  It takes a while to troll the parking lots for a dealer, make a purchase, and wait for the mushrooms to kick in.  The music of The Grateful Dead was a magic carpet ride for thousands every night.

  1. Anyone else see the title and suspect someone had edited together almost 9000 hours of the Dead tuning up?

    1. I was actually really looking forward to it. There’s got to be that much recording of them tuning up out there. Maybe it’s time I did something productive with my time instead of this pointless job/college combo I’ve been trying.

  2. That was a really good era for them when Keith and Donna were around, Terrapin Station and all those songs. Plus it was nice having a good looking girl to watch.

    1. Wasn’t this great?  I didn’t see them in person until after Keith was gone, but they sure did a lot of nice stuff in this collection.

      The Dead may have played 200-250 different tunes in a typical year, but I assume that’s not counting all the random stuff during tuning or waiting for a roadie to adjust something or whatever. (Some of this counts as tunes, some is just random noodling or clicking on mikes. Couple of nice Terrapin bits so far, and guitar/piano interactions.)

  3. I was going to say ‘all that wasted time tuning.’ Because that’s time they could have spent repetitively vamping. But now it’s a curio on the Internet! Hard to call that wasted!

    Alas, if only they had AT-200s during the Civil War, or whenever.

    (at about :26)

    Maybe I’m mean, but guitar solos are solipsistic. Call it even.

    1. You are mean, or at least missing the point of guitar solos, but man that video you posted is hilarious. Good idea by them to disable commenting, but I was kind of looking forward to the YouTube comment storm that would inevitably ensue.

      1. No, I get the point of guitar solos. My unsober embarassment of choice is dubstep. Remember, if you had minded your elders, you’d be playing bassoon right now…and….you’d be pretty awesome. Point taken. 

        Or is twee out now? I can’t remember life before this bitchin solo.

  4. I started listening, hoping for maybe an interesting found-sound or musique concrete experience, forced by the loss of context – perhaps something even more stimulating.  Instead, I got what was quite obviously the Grateful Dead.  Curiously, I found it not compelling.  At all.

  5. This is the best that I’ve ever heard them sound!

    The first time I saw them was with Dylan in 1986. The guy standing next to me was keeping a set list and he kept asking me what the 3rd song was. I finally got annoyed with him and said it was Truckin’, as this was the only Grateful Dead song that I knew at the time. Sometime in the second set they actually played Truckin’ and he got very mad at me for lying to him.

    1.  Hey, stranger things have happened. Maybe something in the middle of Space reminded Jerry of a lick they’d done earlier in the middle of Truckin’.

  6. This reminds me of the late (just recently departed) Ravi Shankar’s set at the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. Before the rock acts, George Harrison scheduled Ravi and his Indian classical colleagues to perform before a crowd of enthusiastic hippies. So enthusiastic that after a few moments of Ravi and co. tuning the sitar and the sarod, the crowd breaks out into rapturous applause. A slightly bemused Ravi Shankar leans into the microphone and says: “Thank you very much. We hope if you enjoyed the tuning so much, you will enjoy the music even more!” 

    1.  I was playing in an open garage one day with a couple friends of mine in San Francisco. It was sometime around 2000, 2001…We were tuning for a few minutes and a trio of cute girls who were walking by stopped and listened until we were done. One of them said “Wow, you guys sound great!” Our bass player said “Oh, we were just tuning” despite the throat-cutting gestures and shushing sounds me and the the other guitar player were making. Needless to say the girls raised their eyebrows and walked away. Sigh.

  7. Dollars to donuts even the creator hasn’t listened to all 92 minutes contiguous. If I set out to watch every 90’s soap opera episode ever aired, and watched with my eyelids taped open 24/7 from tomorrow until the day I died, I still probably wouldn’t succeed. “Here’s the commercials,” he says.

  8. It’s curiously compelling because it’s live and unscripted. Vanishingly rare, these days. You can hear the crowd anticipating something…they’re not sure what, except that it will be unique. Not that some of it wasn’t crap, mind you. Although in ’77 not much of it was.

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