Saturday, December 03, 2005

Bobby's Turn

Thanks to Irenie for providing a link to a recent interview with Bobby concerning his views on the whole downloading controversy.

Well, he certainly took a different spin on this situation, stating that the decision was made in part over concerns over distribution rights of the artists whose songs they have covered over the years. I'm no legal expert, so I have no idea as to the merit or accuracy of those concerns. I am disappointed however about the attitude. As I listened, I felt talked down to, like he was annoyed with us and we should either accept it or go away, good riddance.

His views most certainly align more closely with recent statements made by McNally and Owsley than they do with his former band mates, Phil and Mickey in particular, and others closely linked with the band like Hunter, Barlow and Gans.

What Bobby and the others don't get was that downloading from The Archive wasn't simply about getting free music. Yes, that was nice and was certainly more convenient than traditional tape trading. It was about much more. The Archive had become a vibrant community which enabled fans, new and old to share their thoughts and experiences. It was about exploration and re-living wonderful memories. Overall, it represented the epitome of the spirit of the band for so many years, that once they had played their music, it was ours. For many regular users, it was an online community that brought together people in a way that traditional tape trading never could.

These are my opinions of course. Probably the most disappointing thing about this past week is the fact that this issue has fractured the band and the community worse than ever before. Bobby's hardline stance on this subject certainly has not done anything to improve his image with many fans. It's a damn shame too, I've always loved Bobby's music, and probably always will. I'm just disappointed, that's all, disappointed that he saw The Archive as a threat rather than the great 'experience' that it provided many of us.

There are some deep wounds now, hopefully they will be healed in time. Peace.


At 11:01 PM, Blogger BubbleViewer said...

I only became aware of the archive a few weeks ago, but I tend to agree with Owsley. Much as I would love personal copies of all soundboards of all shows, the music belongs to the band, and they have been EXTREMELY generous with it and with allowing taping. I read someone decry the lack of releases, given the huge amount of unreleased material, but the Dick's Picks and Vault releases I purchased were very high quality in terms of packaging and contained a lot of value with photos, liner notes, etc.
From the little I heard on the archive, it was a veritable gold mine. Just from 1965, I heard some of the greatest music I have ever heard! Surely for the sake of their family's the band members should try to put some type of controls on the stuff.
I say the compromise worked out was still generous and will give us decades of great listening.
Off topic, has anyone read Sunshine Kesey's Counterculture Fairytale? Amazing piece of writing about Jerry, Kesey, MG, their Kids, and the Dead.

At 8:30 AM, Anonymous Helen said...

There are two lines from that interview that really ticked me off.
When talking about the boycotting of DMB and shows, Bobby says "See Ya". That disgusts me. Say goodbye to your fans after 40 years because (and here is the second line) "We need the revenue". I heard this last night from the link on Gans blog and it actually kept me awake for some time. I do believe that the last time I paid to see Ratdog has turned out to be exactly that. The LAST TIME.
Very disappointed but not surprised.
Still anxious to hear a few words from Bill.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger BubbleViewer said...

"What Bobby and the others don't get was that downloading from The Archive wasn't simply about getting free music. Yes, that was nice and was certainly more convenient than traditional tape trading. It was about much more. The Archive had become a vibrant community which enabled fans, new and old to share their thoughts and experiences."
Hmm. I don't see how the simple matter of making the soundboards available for streaming only, rather than downloading, changes any of that. At least it doesn't have to change the community aspect. I hope it doesn't
I mean, the music is still there anytime you want it. You just can't put it on your portable device. Doesn't seem like a huge change to me.
"Overall, it represented the epitome of the spirit of the band for so many years, that once they had played their music, it was ours."
Who from the Grateful Dead ever said that once they played their music, it was yours/ours? Maybe someone did. I don't know. But I never heard that.
If you and others drew that conclusion on an individual or collective basis, that's one thing, but I don't see that it has any basis in fact, either from statements from the band, or copyright laws.
I just want to say that I think the Grateful Dead and their music is a huge positive force in the universe. I would hate to see any fans turn away from the music because of this. I especially hope Bobby isn't portrayed as the "bad guy," because I really think his position, although it deprives us of downloading some versions of songs, really is understandable. We may not like it, but I hope we can respect his views and still continue to love the band and the music. Let's not crucify the guy for giving a crap about the financial aspect. It is the music business after all.

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Ben said...

"I don't have any desire to control people as to what they're doing and what they have. There's something to be said for being able to record an experience you've liked, or being able to obtain a recording of it. Actually, we have all that stuff in our own collection of tapes. My responsibility to the notes is over after I've played them. At that point, I don't care where they go." - Jerry Garcia

" From the beginning to the end, he (Jerry) always wanted the music to be available to the people. He didn't want the funky people shut out. He hated people being shut out because of money, status or class." - Mountain Girl

"I have enjoyed using and found it invaluable during the writing of my book. I found myself being pulled back in time listening to old Grateful Dead shows while giggling with glee or feeling that ache in my heart listening to Jerry’s poetic guitar and sweet voice." - Phil Lesh

It would be a shame to see people turn away, not a whole lot changes on my end. You are right, most of what The Archive offered is still there. My problem all along has been the communication around this issue, that there was no explanation offered initially as to why, and we are still in the dark as to what GDP plans to do with ALL the SBDs. Release them all??? I still don't see that making economic or logistic sense. Bobby's attitude concerns me as well, he may disagree with many of us, but he didn't need to tell us to essentially piss-off if we signed that petition.

At 2:16 PM, Blogger BubbleViewer said...

Thanks for the quotes! I still see a lot of room for interpretation in them, even Jerry's "at that point, I don't care where they go." He maybe didn't care, but it was or should have been someone in the organization's responsibility to care, typically a lawyer.
And as for, "There's something to be said for being able to record an experience you've liked, or being able to obtain a recording of it," I think this is basically saying, "yeah, taping and trading tapes is OK." But there's a difference between that and saying, "you HAVE TO provide me with YOUR (soundboard) recording of it." But the lines are so blurred now between the original soundboard source tapes and audience recordings, it's virtually meaningless. As someone said, it's like pouring food coloring in a swimming pool and then saying, "OK, give it back now." Can't be done.
Obviously, the whole thing could have been handled a lot better, but the Dead were never PR-savvy, which is to be expected, because being PR savvy is usually tied into caring about one's commercial appeal. So it shouldn't be surprising that this wasn't handled in a PR-savvy manner.
I just hope someone will post a copy of that 12/31/76 Cow Palace show to

At 3:39 PM, Blogger Ben said...

Agreed that the level of the sense of entitlement from some was a bit out of whack with reality. I never felt that a deserved anything, I've just wanted to know why they took something away that I enjoyed, that's all.

BTW, you can stream the 12/31/76 show at

At 4:34 PM, Anonymous US Blues said...

There was a line in which Bobby said something like "making tough choices." I immediatly flashed to George W. Bush making tough choices about the War in Iraq. Weir steals a page from Bush's playbook by attacking his critics, so now I see Weir and W in the same light.

As for the number of releases, I DO have complaint about the relative lack of releases, and the choices that have been made. Just one example- the "Steppin Out" CD's from England. There are 3 Dark Stars from England that are much more interesting than the one officially released. The one chosen (4.8.72) has a nice jam at the end and segue into Sugar Mags (same Jam as 3.23.72 Academy of Music, released as a track on the bonus disc for DP #30, but the Academy jam is MUCH better IMHO), but overall isn't as good a Dark Star as the others (5.7 Bickershaw, 5.23 and 5.25 from London). My point is that over the years a lot of great material has hit the editing room floor, material I personally would have paid for.

Weir's claim that they are looking towards future releases is BS, they have already demonstrated that the flow of product will be not include all that is grand and glorious in the Vault. I'd love, of course, for them to prove me wrong!

As for their lack of money, that can only be solved on tour, but I doubt they could find the common ground to do so again as the Dead.

The reason the Archive was so popular is that we could fill in the gaps and hear all those shows we never heard before. As someone who has collected GD music since 1979 the Archive was a treasure trove of mind-melting music. I'm happy to buy it and I have, but I believe GDM has underestimated the fans desire for music. Look at how quickly the Fillmore box set sold out- in an article I read Lemieux expressed surprise that it sold out. Hello, done any market surveys lately?

I just feel that Weir's statement represents one pole of opinion, but also a lack of understanding about what is going on over on this side of the fence. The band has been too well insulated from reality for too long, that includes folks like Latvala and Lemieux when it comes to releasing material. Better communications would serve this whole community in many positive ways.

PS- Phil has now released a second soundboard FOR FREE from his current tour. I guess a little life-threatening illness can set things in perspective.


At 4:42 PM, Anonymous US Blues said...

Regarding 12.31.76, there was never an aud of that show on the Archive, just a Pre-FM master reel board. If you post up your email, I'd be happy to send you a copy.

At 6:20 PM, Anonymous Stewart said...

Bob's attitude is really disheartening and his hemming and hawing throughout the interview leaves little doubt he knows he's been a jerk and is looking to pass the buck. First he blames copyright law (but then why are the AUDs still available for download?) then he quickly switches gears and says it's a revenue thing -- without any word on when or how the band intend to sell the boards themselves.

He offered no apologizes for initally taking down AUDs that did not belong to him, or for taking everything down like a thief in the night with no explanation for over a week. Instead in a contemptuous tone he attacked his own fans for being justifiably disappointed that a great resource that had been made available to them by the band and LMA was gone, which was seemingly (at the time) for good.

There may be wholly justifiable reasons that the boards are now only streamable instead of available for download; and I think the vast majority of Dead fans can be understanding about this change in practice. But Bob (unlike Phil) has given us nothing with which to emphathise or connect with his position. Instead we got sarcasm and disrespect. You're legions of fans deserve much better. Jerk.

At 1:21 PM, Anonymous US Blues said...

Here's the new dilemma- there are two new downloads for sale today:

12.10.73 from Charlotte, NC. This show has never been in circulation as a SBD, and it looks like a rippin' show (Truckin>Nobody's Fault>Eyes>Brokedown!).

2.4.70 from the Family Dog, part of this show was aired as a PBS special (TV), and the Hard to Handle is from Backstage Pass. Mixed from the 16 track masters, it includes a couple of 16 track bonus tracks (Dancin from 2.5.70 and Monkey/Engineer and Good Lovin from 12.31.70).

So now that the auds are back is the boycott off? Here is what we are asking for, material from the vault that has never been available, including 16 track stuff mixed by Jeff Norman (meaning GREAT sound).

Help me out, fellow GD ethicists!

At 9:02 PM, Blogger Ben said...

When this whole thing broke and the petition first came out, I was upset and felt betrayed. But I was never real serious about the actual boycott. I signed the petition because I felt that it would get the attention of the GDP/GDM, which it did.

Now, according to Bob, those of us who signed the petition can piss off. So maybe I won't boycott GDP/GDM, I'll just boycott Ratdog instead. That's a shame too as I just saw them live last month and had a great time. I also find it ironic that I bought my first DP on I-Tunes the weekend before they took the SBDs away.

Oh well, the AUDs are back, the SBDs are there for streaming, it's a compromise, and the best deal we are going to get, at least for now. If you wanted to buy a DP or Download Series show for the pure enjoyment of the music, I don't think anyone would have a problem with that. And if they insist on selling all these shows to us, they better have great sound!

At 9:31 PM, Blogger deadmike said...

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At 9:33 PM, Blogger deadmike said...

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At 9:35 PM, Blogger deadmike said...

What exactly is the difference between a soundboard and an AUD, from a legal perspective? Not a damn thing in my view. Do not be surprised if these too get pulled someday. The soundboards for the IA were from recordings the tapers made, not uploaded from the Vault. I fail to see that a soundboard recording is anymore a sacrosanct piece of the band's property than a mic'ed recording. My feeling is, if they wanted total control of these recordings, they should not have allowed them in the first place. That is what the profit-savvy bands do nowadays, and that is what they should have done.
I hear some complaint about the fans having an unjustified sense of entitlement. Well, what about the band expecting IA to host all these soundboard recordings as a backup for their own? So that later on the band can make some cash off what some diligent taper preserved all those years? I am sorry, but this coked-up richboy hogwash of Bobby's doesn't fly with me. If he had his way there would be squat available for free on IA.

At 11:56 PM, Anonymous US Blues said...

DeadMike- I'm going to have to take a contrary view. The soundboards on the Archive came, in the most part, from the vault. There were a number that came patched from the board, and some that came from more ingenous methods (Fillmore East in 1971 were taped in a mop closet on a line split from the soundboar. Most of the boards in circulation came out of the vault. Over the years people in the crew copied the vault tapes for the music. No doubt Dick made cassettes for his personal use.

Also, the band did not "expect" the Archive to back-up the Vault. the Archive project came from the taping community. The Archive was started by other folks as an electronic archive of all sorts of material. Putting the music on the archive was a joint venture separate from GDM. GDM just sees the Archive as a threat to the bottom line.

As for the band keeping a better lock on the door, well those damn hippies will never learn, will they?

At 11:59 PM, Anonymous US Blues said...

Oh Ben, the sound is just dandy, especially the 2.4.70, a fresh Norman mix from 16 track analogue masters. :-)

At 7:16 AM, Blogger deadmike said...

Thanks for the info US Blues,
I had assumed that most of these were recorded on taper's machines (at shows) with the crew's permission. If in fact they are identical in every way to tapes that GDM keeps as backup and archival material, then their wanting to limit distribution seems a little more reasonable. I do not know why I should feel this way, but there it is.
Bobby's comments still rankle somewhat, and I do miss being able to download the music, but maybe oneday I'll actually be able to afford to buy music again (now I am a pretty poor student) and I can buy the band's releases.
Thanks for the info.

At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first show was 2/26/77 San Berdoo, and that was the night it ALL changed for me. I've never had a source of live shows, just a few lucky tapes here and there. With the advent of the web, I too clearly fell into the "born again" category. I bought all new tech, for the sole purpose of downloading GD recordings on Archive right after the "compromise" was reached.

I heard a recording of Weir's comments and yes, he did come across as ungrateful (pun intended) and sarcastic which did piss me off a bit since clearly this band has benefited from a cult (us) following for decades. Bands like the GD had the LUXURY of being creative and even having many substandard performances that were always accepted and forgiven because we are "Heads" by definition. We ALWAYS came back!

Having said that, I don't totally disagree with Bobby's position (though his tone was of concern - he basically bungled through the interview with little clarity or focus. Reminds me of the part in Phil's book about Bobby "Never wanting to be responsible for a decision" in regards to his early sexploits).

I no longer live in a VW camper (as I DID in 76)and I do NOT work for free! I'm a public schoolteacher. I provide Phys. Ed. services for for "handicapped" children for a living. Nobody gives me crap about drawing a paycheck for it and I have no problem with the remaining members of the band getting paid for their work, past or present.

My personal approach is a mix. I download from archive regularly and I supplement that by buying Dick's Picks and Ratdog downloads. Good for everybody. Currently looking into purchasing downloads by Phil and the drummers.

Finally, I think Bob deserves a little forgiveness here. He did put a lot of the music back up. Also, who among us hasn't "popped off" at times. No one is at their best 24/7. After all he's a jam band guitartist, not a publicist, and sometimes it shows.

My only real frustration is....I can't find a download of the night the magic happened for me! Anyone have 2/26/77??

Grateful Kimba


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