8/13/75 is my "Barton Hall" show: an early acquisition that's cemented in my mind as the platonic ideal of what the Dead sound like. Make Believe Ballroom '75 was in the first batch of tapes I owned as a young teenager, full of cuts but magical nevertheless, and One From the Vault was likely the first live release I bought after Live Dead and Europe 72. I am of the opinion that this is the single best played show the band ever did and, unlike Barton Hall, it's spotless from start to finish. You probably don't need me to tell you any of this: unlike Barton Hall, I can't recall seeing any argument over the quality of the Great American Music Hall show.
Today it occurred to me that Crazy Fingers from this show is one of the best exemplars of what makes Garcia so special both as a singer and a guitarist. The whole show, of course, is filled with these, but what stands out about this song in particular is that it's not an expansive, extended improvisation. His solo here is etched in the purest stone, a perfect jewel of gentle, effortless melodic invention within the four corners of the tune's structure. The spiraling jam at the end would be taken in different directions in 1976 and beyond, but this one serves more as an extended coda and is a perfect contrast to the solo: Garcia at the center of a kaleidoscopic ensemble wave that could only have been created by the Grateful Dead.
|under eternity blue|
|an unrelated musical event, but a good observation nonetheless|