I first saw the Dead in '72, forty-odd miles from Liverpool, while standing in a foot of mud among a small, sodden horde who braved the swamp in front of the stage. The sodding sun wasn't even shining as expected. If we had been extras in a terrible remake of Henry V, we would have been the French. After the battle.
Nevertheless, the Dead played beautifully for several hours — every song you might want to hear plus great new tunes we'd never heard before and yet seemed to know right away.
For those few months when I was 17, Dead records were some of the secret stuff I loved and my friends hated (then it was on to something else, you know the scene). But I have often gone back to those albums (and others since), and I'm pleased to say I've seen them during three of their five trips to England.
Now I dig them not only for everything people think they are, but also for elements that are sometimes overlooked, such as having written many beautiful ballads.
A magazine recently printed a picture of that drenched crowd in 1972, and with the light being so sharp and grey, I swear I could pick myself out, sinking slowly to the left.
So here's to the Grateful Dead, the only band that can make you immune to mud.