........................................................................................ - a weBlog by Snowy and me.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

This Is What I Watched Forty Years Ago Today


And after I listened to all three hours of the gig at the time I compulsively listened to a copy of the tape of the gig on my walkman until the walkman wore out, then the tapes sounded worn, by which time it was on the internet. There were two other albums that I listened to on rotation on the walkman one was 'Tubular Bells' and the other was 'Dark Side of The Moon'. My ears never tired of all three of these items and many more besides. I even memorised the sound of the audience between songs and the incoherent messages that chanted with the Grateful Dead tape.

According to the BBC schedules for that day, The Who performed first and left the stage for The Grateful Dead who were performing from 11.50 pm. The first set was broadcast on BBC 2 and BBC Radio 1 FM as part of 'Tommy Vance presents 'The Who and The Grateful Dead live'.  BBC 2 ended broadcasting at around 1.30 am Sunday morning, at the end of the first Grateful Dead set (view above). BBC Radio 1 FM broadcast the band's second set, the drums solo set that was the intermission and the encores, until near 3 am. My closest friend Graham in his patience taped all of the broadcast on BBC radio 1 FM. We would have been up until nearer 4 am, monitoring the tape recording. He cut out the drums/intermission in his recording to leave room for the encores we expected. 

I was still living under my parents, though I was not very settled there. I had no idea what they thought of me consistently coming and going at strange hours and being obsessed with types of music which they had no interest in and no desire to comprehend. They had zero interest in music. From those days to now, I have no idea what they thought about me being restless and passionate about something that they heard as noise. We lived in different worlds whilst sharing the same house, and there was a strong 'Don't ask, don't tell' ethos to give the appearance of unity and shared goals. Like The Grateful Dead themselves, my family had their enigmatic silences where there should have been conversations. But where the band had the music to communicate with each other through, the silences my family kept had no compensatory mechanisms, like unity and empathy of playing music together, to make up for what could not be declared between us.

Thank you Graham for the tape that you made for me of the BBC Radio 1 FM broadcast, and thank you too for the party we surely had at your house that night. If ever there anything you had that I wanted my own copy of it was the Hi-Fi and recording set up you had, which when played complex music loud made listening an immersive experience. We surely both felt the buzz as the BBC pulled out all the stops they could for bringing this landmark gig to life in British viewers and listeners homes at the unearthly hour at which it was performed. Finally thank you for how that gig, the tape of it, fuelled a positivity in my life until other, better, fuel arrived. There were times when it was easier to believe in music than people, and the audio tape of the above gig gave me comfort for so long afterwards, when apparently real people (not you) let me down and I let you and them down through my inconsistency.

Nine years later I did see the band live. The dream-come-true-event was only slightly marred by the death of their third keyboard player some weeks before they arrived in London to play at the Empire Pool, Wembley. Brent Mydland was missed, but the band played around his absence, as they had to, to please themselves and their followers. In the programme the comment on his death was 'He will be sharply missed' and if he was then there was still plenty of euphoria.

As The Grateful Dead sang the night of the television broadcast in their first encore, after the second set and the intermission/drums, 

'Love is real, Not fade away....  '. 

True love does not fade away though it will weave and waver down the years....

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