Grateful Dead, Hundred Year Hall
Hundred Year Hall was released in October 1995. This album was recorded live at Jahrehundert Halle in Frankfurt, Germany on April 26, 1972.
That run from Hamburg to Munich in two buses. Castles along the Rhine. Black Forest at night where werewolves roam. Bombed out ruins of old Heidelberg University. U.S. - Brit. post-war retaliatory blitz of gemutlich Germany, ancient before ever those snot nosed killers transformed high romance to schmaltz and wrecked the language for poets for generations to come. Too many lies had been told in it, concepts of the heart and the very words to say them expropriated for purposes of rape. We had lies of our own to tell, but not hateful ones. Told them with music. Had come to save the world but, starting in Germany, began to realize worlds cannot be saved. All are tentative. So we learned to dance on graves and be glad. None recover, they are just replaced. In 1972 the German Nation was still in shock, only halfway between then and now. We had Vietnam. All were crazy. None were sane. Hausfrauen at dawn, trying to scrub their patches of sidewalk free of blame, look up to see busloads of the Dead with red rubber noses waving, laughing. Register nothing. Continue scrubbing. Siehst du de Toten? Only the children see.
Snapshot of the Second Set:
Truckin', still new enough in '72 that Bobby hasn't got all his entrances down by heart, is full of thunder juice. GD signature tune of the time, the audience is familar enough with it to think about getting involved after engaging the band in a standoff first set. Or maybe it's not their choice - the monster is out of the box now, per usual, and is perfectly capable of sweeping things along without a by your leave - the tune breaks up into sprung clockwork but Billy the K hangs in there, not letting things end. Oh Oh, drum solo, settling into an unmistakable beat.
Phil thrums his first cue line for The Other One and the room begins to rock back and forth. Suddenly the band decides to go back and inspect that busted clock for a minute. Tension, release, tension, release. Drop back now and again, or you got nowhere to go. Bands that don't learn that might sell more records but drop by the wayside.
Now occurs what makes this recording worth adding to your collection. Moments of gentle sweetness, repose. Jerry conversing idly with Phil, wondering if it was worthwhile to wake up today, inventing reasons it might have been. Believing them, provisionally. Suddenly a streetscene in wind blown San Francisco. Clouds gather. Weir tells a story in words of his own, sketch about a Spanish lady and a rose. Jerry tries a scale inimicable with the key and Phil follows him into the forest as percussion all but suspends until Billy decides to practice a little rudimental drumming on his own, off to the side, while Phil and Jerry consider the alchemy of scales. After awhile only an uninsistent but understood sense of tempo indicates this to be a piece of music in any sense this audience might comprehend. Jerry is considering E. 52cnd Street in the '50's while Phil has meandered down to Basin Street. Bobby is pasting decal ducks on the blue tiled wall of a shower. Keith awakens once in awhile, but mostly dreams silent on the keys.
Now just Phil and Jerry make sound, a meditation of the face of Germany, our witness to this place in time. Then somebody discovers the knobs of his amplifier, twiddles them up and down, letting the guitar play itself as a Bauhaus era Paul Klee drawing constructs itself on the stage. Weimar has entered the hall. The Treaty of Versailles. Very tough to live with. Anger and economic disruption. Expressionist dismay. The rise of the right wing. Speed over the rest. Run the clock very fast. Tumble into the present with momentum the band agrees not to prevent - fly over Berlin, over the Wall - then circle west and follow the Rhine, whizz of the bus wheels down the Autobahn. Reintroduction of the theme of the song, rhythm following suit a few bars on as a nonchalant other one strolls out of the piece, steps lengthening until he, she or it is covering eight feet at a stride. "The bus came by and I got on."
A hushed moment, energy of the piece fully discharged, discovers applause from these newly convinced Deadheads, but this is not a time for clapping. Comes a Time emerges gently with the admonition: "gotta make it somehow on the dreams you still believe." What the people of this land need to consider more and everybody damn well know it, at least for the moment. The ballad ends with, again, little space for acknowledgment from the audience, stepping on its own tail and striding into a glittering Sugar Magnolia. American Summer Music, Sunshine Daydream of Ass kickin' rock and roll with love and promises
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