Dark star crashes/pouring its light/ into ashes/reason tatters/the forces tear loose/from the axis…[from here]
If you REALLY want to investigate today’s song, here is a list of every single performance known to man…man. It’s been performed more times than I’ve had hot dinners, and usually in versions lasting anything up to an hour.
Yet the original 1968 single was a mere 2:45 quiet affair that, with any other psychedelic band that sang about drugs and how wonderful they were twenty plus years before the Shamen and the Stereo MCs, would have disappeared into nothingness.
Dark Star (FF 1976 #40), though, became a Holy Grail for Deadheads (hardcore Grateful Dead fans), who, in the years during the late 70s and 80s, when the song all but disappeared from the band’s live playlist, would consider it a rare privilege to be present at a performance (they would refer to it as IT). I imagine those who love Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew album will also revere this. The version I present to you today is by all accounts the definitive one: it appears on the Live/Dead album (great rock improv for those in the mood), taking up the entire first side of the LP, and was recorded on February 27, 1969 at the Fillmore West. Vocals take a back seat to Jerry Garcia’s 13-minute guitar solo.
Garcia dominated the group to such an extent that on his death in 1995 they disbanded, after a long and distinguished career that included a plethora of energetic love shows and the classic album American Beauty. Oddly, Bruce Hornsby occasionally joined them on keyboards: that’s just the way it is.