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A Grateful Dead musical would be as entertaining as staring at a brick wall

The last time I tripped mushrooms, it went down exactly the way you might imagine it: I was sitting on a patio nursing a beer when an elfin bearded dude — wearing, I shit you not, a stovepipe hat — bounded up and told me to open my hand. I did, and he deposited a warm, tangled ball of 'shrooms in my palm, closed my fingers over it, said "A gift for you" and pranced off without another word. What else was I going to do? I ate them immediately. About an hour later, I bought a bag of Skittles, then spent approximately the next three hours saying to nobody in particular, "The colors. My God, look at the colors."

My point is, psychedelia is redundant. If I happen to be on mushrooms, yeah, it's entertaining to watch a movie with lots of crazy colors and morphing figures designed to simulate my tripping experience, but it's just as entertaining to stare at a brick wall for two hours, because check it out, it's totally moving. And if I don't happen to be on mushrooms, a movie designed to simulate that experience is pretty fucking boring.

Needless to say, then, I wasn't a huge fan of Across the Universe, which flaccidly lumped together a few fistfuls of flower-power clichés toward the end of setting some 33 Beatles covers to crazy trippy visuals and a largely incoherent plot that featured Bono, creepily, as Dr. Robert. I just didn't really see the point of it. But I'm even less a fan of the idea of the same movie but with the Grateful Dead.

Nevertheless, it's looking like that movie is going to get made. Across the Universe's journey began with Bruce Kaufan, an International Creative Management agent who managed to acquire the rights to all those Beatles songs, and last week he procured the rights to the Dead's entire catalogue. Currently, the project has no studio, producer or script, but it's the unfortunate reality of the world we live in that it eventually will. Derivative crap somehow finds a way.

I'm biased about this. Before I had a roommate who listened almost exclusively to a shockingly comprehensive collection of Grateful Dead concert bootlegs, I was more or less indifferent — but after that experience, even the faintest sound of Jerry Garcia's guitar tone emanating from a grocery-store PA fills me with rage. Even objectively, though, I think it's safe to say that the Grateful Dead is not that great of a band. Their songs, pared down to the standard-issue three or four minutes, would not be much better than just decent, but drawn out to noodling length, they're downright tedious.

Of course, psychedelic music is different than a psychedelic movie; the Beatles, after all, did some pretty cool shit with psychedelia. Tape-looping, stereo-panning, sampling: It's all designed to fuck with tripping people, but it's interesting enough to stand on its own. The Grateful Dead just played songs for a really long time. It's not even that interesting if you're tripping. And if you're not? You might as well be staring at a brick wall.

 
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16 comments
xena80
xena80

This is treason Because of My Idol Jerry Garcia "who is better than Jesus " the Grateful Dead are the greatest rock group in creation

xena80
xena80

This is treason Because of My Idol Jerry Garcia "who is better than Jesus " the Grateful Dead are the greatest rock group in creation

Kturff
Kturff

Jef. Get a clue. You listen to the Dead on your friends watch. Never took the time yourself to listen to their music with your full attention, yet you say they are not that good of a band. When you stop talking out of your ass then your opinion may mean something. What a joke you are.

August West
August West

With that attitude, I'm not surprised you ended up being a music critic.

Randall
Randall

The grateful dead aren't that great of a band? Come on. They are objectively a great band. You obviously don't "get it" if you think they simply "play songs for a really long time." That's fine if you don't "get it." But they were talented musicians, Jerry Garcia was a hell of a songwriter, and most of all, they brought enjoyment to large numbers of people. That's what defines a "great band" IMO. Regardless, I agree, this movie sounds dumb. I like to listen to the grateful dead play their tunes, not studio musicians and actors in some weird hybrid musical-film thing.

Travis M
Travis M

Jef, I'm with ya...in all those years with the hippies you know as Amy and Mark I have a demented hatred for the Grateful Dead. Too tell you the truth, you could switch Phish into your rant and I would have been nodding my head just as much.

Corky
Corky

James needs some Lithium

James
James

You got any to spare?

Surbauer
Surbauer

Spoken like someone who has never been to a Grateful Dead concert.

James
James

Here is a a summary of your article: "Blah blah blah, I hate the Grateful Dead because I hate myself because I am ashamed of my body. So I will automatically hate anything about the Dead, especially a movie."

Your article lacks the same imagination as your tripping experience. Some gay guy in a hat gives you mushrooms, which you didn't think to thank, and you buy skittles and look at them. You obviously are a social retard, and a moron. If someone gave you a hooker and a limo you would probably go sight seeing.

I am not in favor of this movie by the way. The concept sounds awful. But your reasons for not seeing it are stupid. Really you sound like a total dork. I hope you get some authentic life experiences someday soon, and maybe your writing will improve.

Doctornamtab
Doctornamtab

Really some deep psychoanalysis there James. Where'd you get the whole I-hate-my-body thing?

Awesome recap of his trip tho. Always, always, ALWAYS thank gay gnomes for free psychdelic substances. Always.

Dwayne J. Stephenson
Dwayne J. Stephenson

Yeah, I was just sitting here, thinking to myself, have I ever lived? I mean, like, "really" lived? The way like Thoreau did when he decided to stare at weeds growing for a couple years, or Mel Gibson pretending to be William Wallace pretending to know what every man does and not what every man does? And I was like, that's my problem! I haven't had any authentic life experiences at all. Just been beating off to the Teletubbies this WHOLE TIME. And thanks to you, now I know that must be why I don't like the Grateful Dead.

James
James

You and Jeff Otte can watch the Teletubbies eating Skittles together or on Chatroulette and maybe if the mood strikes you both could have a moment. I don't know. But if some random guy in a stove top hat prances up to you with some mushrooms, because of this "helpful" article you'll know what to do with the Skittles. INHO liking the Dead, imitating Thoreau, staring at brick walls or Skittles on shrooms or doing anything related to Mel Gibson is not required for authentic experiences, but "beating off to Teletubbies" might actually qualify, congratulations.

Jef Otte
Jef Otte

True that I am a social retard, and most likely I would indeed go sightseeing with that hooker and limo because I don't make a habit of soliciting prostitutes -- more power to you on that, if it's your thing. But James, I don't really get where you're coming from with this being ashamed of my body thing. What does that have to do with not liking the Grateful Dead?

 

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