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he is THE MAN! I just love this guy.

Message From Phil (www.philzone.org)

January 5th, 2006

"Don't worry up your mind

People are sick and mean sometimes

They're only words

They're only words"

Happy New Year, Heads!

So you all want answers. I'm here to provide some.

I am responsible for asking to take down the message board on Philzone. Until now, I have felt that the boards are your turf to trample as you will; but right before New Year's Eve one of my employees received a very threatening email from a frequent poster on Philzone. In the process of dealing with this I was shown that the discussions sometimes cross the line.[/blurb] For example - Bob Weir is dead; so and so (fill in the name of the musician you most love to hate) is a junkie/child-molester/wife-beater/asshole/sucks, etc.

Our attorneys are dealing with the threatening email, but they are concerned that Philzone.com/org is perceived to be an official site. We will be working with the Philzone team to clarify the distinction between the two.

I would like to start the New Year with some healthy communication, so I've asked my man JC to scour the message boards so I can respond to some of your questions and concerns.

Some questions from the TOO Board -

Subwoofer: "I will say this.... it's all very odd. Herring leaves under "interesting" circumstances.... so does Sipe.... Molo bows out for a bit but triumphantly returns....Ryan Adams is the most talked about "poor decision" that he's made, and yet he backs this RA like he's the second coming.... and he finally finds a gem with Barry Sless(too bad he couldn't keep David Nelson around a bit more!). But it's all very mysterious to me....and I'd think that Phil's fans would be questioning his motives."

Phil: Jimmy Herring and I had been growing apart musically since the December 04 shows. It seems we worked better together in the context of the Q. We discussed this after the December shows, after Mardi Gras, after the Colorado shows and we both still felt that it wasn't right after Vegas. Clearly, it would be a mistake to head off on a month long tour together, so rather than forcing the relationship we agreed to go our separate ways sooner than planned. At that point I decided to ask John Molo to do NYE instead of Jeff Sipe as he had more experience with the material- although Jeff will be joining me again in February.

Thinman: "Couldn't Phil sing Terrapin at least??"

Phil: Ha! If you insist, but you have to take the blame when everyone complains… I'll just direct everyone to your email address, OK?

From the Ryan Adams fan site -

(Rev Buddy Greene is a regular philzone poster who felt the need to go to the Ryan Adams fan site and trash him. He ends his rant with this): I want everyone to know that I am not a troll I am a music fan.

Phil: Hey Buddy; since you're a music fan, how about some intelligent musical observations, instead of writing what could be an article for Star magazine? Just for you, here are some musical (and some not) reasons why I love playing with Ryan. I love playing with Ryan because he's fearless; because he doesn't have to do anything the same way twice; because every idea he throws out in a jam is a little gem that cries out "polish me"; because he has about nine hundred voices that he can use like a Bene Gesserit; because of his huge heart and enormous talent.

I like it that we deconstruct the songs so that verses are transposed, or the bridge comes in early, or the jam leads back to a verse instead of a chorus. I like it that we have to be on our tippy-tippy toes to make the acute left turns and abrupt changes that Ryan likes to spring on us. I like to spring those kind of changes too- what do you think I'm doing when I talk into my mike and you can't hear me? I love playing with Ryan because he takes me back to when the Grateful Dead were young, fearless, crazy and didn't give a shit about what other people thought we should do. If what you desire is the perfect rendition, there are many excellent bands that perform Grateful Dead songs- but I have never been about perfection and never will be. I do promise that I will always do my best to follow my weird. I hope you will join me, but I do understand if your path takes you elsewhere. I will also say with no hesitation that Jerry would have loved Ryan and his fearless interpretations of his songs. It's funny, but I feel Jerry close to me whenever I am around Ryan.

Phil: JC tells me that everyone wants to know about the Dead and Archive.org.

The Dead - The Dead is a big rusty machine that takes awhile to crank up. I am completely open to doing a Terrapin Station weekend and hopefully we will get it together for this summer.

Archive - I had two conversations with Cameron Sears, our CEO at GDP, regarding Archive, starting when our material first showed up there. I told Cameron that I was fine having the audience tapes up there, but that he should talk to everyone, including Bob Hunter and John Barlow, regarding the soundboards. A year later when I had not heard anything about the boards, I mentioned to Cameron that I felt by not doing anything we were making a decision about the boards and that I was fine with that. Again I urged him to talk to everyone. I was caught by complete surprise when, right before Thanksgiving, the recordings were pulled. I feel that Bobby was not updated properly and unfairly took most of the heat. A lot of our business disagreements are the result of poor communication from advisors. Bobby is my brother and I love him unconditionally; he is a very generous man, and was unfairly judged regarding the Archive issue.

In the end, what we want or enjoy in life comes down to personal preference; the best and the bravest will always follow their own path in their listening, in their reading, in their thinking, without any concern for the opinions of others.

Words of comfort whispered to the injured, words of courage whispered to the scared, words of encouragement whispered to a child, words of love whispered to the sky.

Words have great power; use them wisely.


From Philzone Admin: We will be putting the discussion board back up soon and we hope you all take Phil's words to heart moving forward.

In the meantime, Phil will be answering some questions from registered discussion board members only. Please email your question to askphil06@philzone.com. You must include your name, discussion board username and your real email address. Of course Phil can't answer all your questions. We will post Q&A updates periodically. Serious questions only please!


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Yes, well placed.

Since others have already picked the ringers here, I have to put my next-fave quote down -

Thinman: "Couldn't Phil sing Terrapin at least??"

Phil: Ha! If you insist, but you have to take the blame when everyone complains… I'll just direct everyone to your email address, OK?

(More, i.e., in the "Words have great power; use them wisely" vein.)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Phil is still THE MAN!

Dear Phil,

Thanks for the many years of music and for building a community that has become a huge part of my life. I am so grateful that I have been part of the myth, but I am still looking for the next step in my journey. Is there a future for the Dead? Have you considered Trey with the core four? If the Dead don’t continue, what do you see as the future of the jam band scene; do any bands stand out for you? I love Phil & Friends, but I really miss a steady line up. Is there any chance that you will settle down soon?



Dear Josh,

First, thanks for your questions. They are very much to the point of what I’ve been thinking about recently, so I warn you, I may get a little verbose.

The Grateful Dead came into being at a unique time in human history, when consciousness was expanding, walls were crumbling, and young people all over the world were searching for a new way of life. The community that evolved out of the Haight-Ashbury scene has spread out around the world, and now is in a position of being able to mentor and assist newer artists and thinkers in their efforts. Sometimes, however, people can find themselves in a kind of comfort zone, where the concepts and experiences that were once so fresh and new have themselves become conventions- walls, if you will, that tend to box in one’s thinking. Everything new is judged against whether or not it conforms to dogma; that is, the way it used to be “back in the dayâ€.

The GD as an entity has gone through the whole cycle of evolution, and both Bobby and myself have, in the last ten years, developed our own individual approaches to GD music. I understand the importance for older deadheads of “family reunion†type events - they can connect with family and old friends, and enjoy the music much the way it was for them originally. It feels good to get in that box for a while, but I can only

stay there for a short time.

When I play with the other GD guys, the biggest presence onstage is an absence- of Jerry. There’s a huge hole there that goes all the way down to the core of the collective being. It’s hard to find your footing (or your bearings) in the void. Even when the Dead try to fill the hole with fine musicians like Trey, or Warren, there comes a time when it all starts to ring hollow: Jerry’s gone, and it will never again be like it was. Nothin’s gonna bring him back. And let’s face it- the core four are all well over fifty, right? What’s needed is a younger artist who can connect with the rising generation’s hunger for music that is rooted in the sixties spirit, but that speaks to them in their language. What’s needed is a real creative spirit that will blow some doors and windows open- but when the four of us come together, we become too rigid and set in our ways to allow that to happen. The music we made together, which was once so free, has become, like all artistic styles, a net of conventions which bind us as tightly as ever. Even with all the great bands out there, the “jam-band†scene seems to have reached a plateau and stayed there. The GD reached that same plateau, and I haven’t yet heard any bands that have taken it further, to the next level.

However, I’ve recently been wondering if “Chance†music might be a key to the next step. In this music, elements are left to the performers’ discretion including the order of execution of sections of a piece, the possible exclusion of sections, and subjective interpretation of temporal and spatial pitch relations. This practice extends from Mozart’s time to the middle of the last century, with composers such as Cage, Boulez, and my teacher Luciano Berio. Chance music is music that’s continually becoming, in which fluidity of form is the norm, in which “songs†can be deconstructed and reassembled according to the whim of the moment, or morphed together, moving from one to the other and back.

It would seem that there’s only one way to sing a song, right? From beginning to end? A while back, I screwed up “Fire on the Mountain†by singing the last verse first. Halfway through the next jam, I flashed that I should switch the first and last verses and leave the middle verse in place. That showed me new meaning in the song, meaning it wouldn’t have had any other way. By retelling the story in a different order, immeasurable richness is revealed. Each song, then, can be sung in many different orders, and, like the versions of a myth, all are true. In response to your final question, I don’t know when I’ll settle down. I’m still searching for a lineup that will not only challenge me, but kick my ass.

All best, Phil


Dear Phil,

Whos the best dancer?



Dear Mikew,

You are! The fluidity and grace that you exhibit on the dance floor inspires us to be better musicians and better people. Thank for all you do for this community.

All my love,


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It would seem that there’s only one way to sing a song, right? From beginning to end? A while back, I screwed up “Fire on the Mountain†by singing the last verse first. Halfway through the next jam, I flashed that I should switch the first and last verses and leave the middle verse in place. That showed me new meaning in the song, meaning it wouldn’t have had any other way.

I love it when other people come up with such awesome rationalisations for those moments when I totally screw up :). Now I can embrace my whacked-over short-term memory! Just play with conviction.

I think Zappa also said something not dissimilar - play something wrong once, you have a mistake; play it again like that, and you have a new composition.

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To tie in Mr. Lesh's letter with your Zappa quote, Phil mentions Boulez who actually has an album where he conducts a symphony playing Zappa pieces. I almost bought it the other day but haven't heard it yet.

I assume you mean "The Perfect Stranger". It's not all Boulez conducting Zappa; three pieces are symphonic (done in France under Boulez), four are pieces composed by Zappa and rendered by Zappa in his California studio (on synthesizer) without (as far as I know) any input from Boulez.

In my opinion, if you want symphonic Zappa, get "The Yellow Shark" first (heck, get it anyway), then maybe "London Symphony Orchestra" (especially the two-CD edition), and only after these consider "The Perfect Stranger". If you're thinking about "TPS" for the synthesized stuff, get "Jazz From Hell" before getting "TPS".



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Thanks for helping me hijack this thread Brad.

I do own the Yellow Shark and enjoy it quite a bit (I still find Jazz from Hell is a challenge to listen to despite the Grammy). I recently downloaded a Zappa tribute by a Symphony from France called Bocal (sp) which has some interesting interpretations. I'll eventually get the Boulez album.

I am actually really digging the 1988 tour live albums lately after almost totally avoiding FZs 1980s output altogether for so long (The Best Band You Never Heard in Your life & Broadway The Hardway are excellent, although I still haven't heard Make a Jazz Noise Here).

Maybe we should take this to the Zappa forum and leave Phil right out of it.

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i do love phil.

i lost my poster at some bus stop on the way back from the warfield show (admittingly, the chances of the poster travelling 4 and half thousand miles home wasnt great to begin with). so i emailed the organization about BUYING a new one, and no response. i guess my point is maybe the music has plateued and the scene is not the creative mecca it once was, cause its missing the LOVE. maybe individuals like phil have it, but its got to be pervasive to inspire creative.

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