Dear Ask a Deadhead #2

Dear Ask a Deadhead,

My boyfriend says tie-dye makes me look fat. But then he also likes Neil more than Jerry. Is tie-dye figure-flattering or not? And should I dump this guy? —Daisy, Madison, Wis

Whoa, whoa, whoa! I like Neil, but your BF needs to get his hearing checked. Seriously, Neil has written some good stuff, especially that song about a horse with no name. But there’s no competition there. Heart of Gold vs. Friend of the Devil? Cinnamon Girl vs. Cold Rain and Snow? It’s not even close. But listen, nobody has perfect musical taste — except for one Man, and he left the planet on August 9, 1995 — so I’m not gonna totally rip your boyfriend for the Neil thing.

But tie-dye? That’s the magical fabric! It’s like the Dead’s equivalent of Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat, and that cloth was so badass, it like did miracles and shit! But you’ve been to shows, right? You’ve seen arenas full of beautiful women  doing  snake-arm hippie dancing while sheathed in explosions of blurred out, blissed-out mandala patterns jetted over the astral plane from Lhasa and imprinted on 100% cotton! Tie-dye is a visual aphrodisiac, man. Everybody knows that! I’ll bet you look smokin’!

Dump him. Go out with his best friend.


Dear Ask a Deadhead,

Why did the Dead only play the song “Blues for Allah” live five times after they recorded the album of the same name? — Stevie, Austin, Tx

Stevie, that is a most awesome wonder you pose. Totally! I get this question every month. What IS THE DEAL WITH BFA? And I have been searching high and unhigh for the answer. Like, relentlessly. Sometimes I feel like those reporters Bob Woodward and Ingmar Bergman. You know, less like an advice columnist and more like a real newshound. But now all my hard journalistical work has paid off, dudes!

Here’s what I found out.

First, Jerry, in addition to being the greatest being to ever touch a fret board — like, ten or even twenty times better than Trey or Warren — was a creature of immensely superior foresight. For instance, he was seriously concerned about the ocean and coral and the environment waaay back in the 60s.

Plus, tie-dye.

Plus, lysergic acid diethylamide.

The man had foresight. Am I right?

I’m sure you are like, dude, what does this have to do with “Blues for Allah?”

Well, chill out. My point is that it turns out, Jerry also totally foresaw some of this whole Bin Laden terrorism thing that’s been going on.


When I was quietly making covert inquiries into the mystery of “Blues,” I heard a rumor about a taper from Spokane who knew another taper from Cleveland who knew the whole story.

It took me an epic series of emails and phone calls to track down this dude in Shaker Heights, Ohio, who I’ll call Shimmy because that’s his name.

Shimmy met a roadie who was on the entire ’79 tour and asked Jerry this exact question. He was like, “Dude, why don’t you ever play BFA, man?”

And Jerry said that one night, about three weeks after the album came out, he was relaxing and he got the munchies and cooked up an omelet with primo peyote buttons.

Like, an hour or three later — Jerry wasn’t sure — a huge, hairy dude in white pajamas with a giant cutlass broke into his crib! The guy had his turban in a twist and was ranting about fatwas, which sounds a bit like Mexican food but is really an Arabic word for, like, a religious finding that can some times be a death sentence. The dude also said that some old school Allah fans did not dig the tribute, and “would fucking waste everyone if they ever played it live.”

Shimmy the taper swore to me on an SACD of Winterland, June 9, ’77 that this was totally solid information, from Jerry’s lips to the roadie’s ears to Shimmy’s ears about 15 years later. So that sounds pretty rock sold to me.

I know this story is sort of ironic, since Bobby Hunter’s BFA lyrics say spilling blood will not grow a thing. But it sounds exactly right, too: by not playing “Blues for Allah,” Jerry was silently ensuring the safety of the whole scene, which is just so typical of the Master.

Anyway, that’s the real story. If you want to nominate me for a Pulitzer Prize, go head.



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