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Northern Heads (Enter The Drainbow)


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Talk around here recently made me sentimental to cruise through archive.org and read some of my old musings and lunatic fringe. I came across this, which I guess was as close to a manifesto as I ever came. I'd have to say I've stayed pretty consistent in these beliefs.

Enter The Drainbow (Monday, Dec. 9, 2002)

It has occured to us lately that many do not appreciate why this website happens to be so harsh in it's assessments of many of the most popular bands of our ilk. Given this confusion it seems relevant to inform our readership of a few observations that inform our brand of journalism 'without fear or favour'.

First this site was founded with the desire to target a subculture without pandering to it. When we first started someone out East commented that we should be called Anti-Heads and that about covers it. This approach was developed out of the observation that for all of the stunning life altering experiences that take place at shows there are, particularly in our scene, endless examples of dark, depraved and down right sketchy scenes and incidents.

Rather than acknowledge this dark current that runs through our culture we have instead developed an us and them attitude. They are the pasty faced bedraggled horde, the spare a spillers, the wookies, the unclean, or as our man Dave Hendrick eloquently put it- they are the Drainbows. Conversely those who identify the 'wookie' identify themselves in opposition to them. 'We' then are the utility vehicle driving, allowance spending, children of privilege, the trustafarians, the entitled, the worthy, the conscious- essentially the feudal lords over all of the wooked out serfs. Irrespective of all of the sketchy shit that goes down on tour, all of the abuse, overkill, degradation is the fault of the wookies until such time as they've got phatter coffers and can really do up tour in style. That is at least the implication of the great divide.

From the fever of backlash directed at this site you would think that we were the lone voice in the wilderness. Clearly we are not, even the Dead's own publicist Dennis McNally has made a slew of comments in his new book that resonate with what we are saying here. Anyone interested in owning up to this aspect of our culture should read the review of McNally's book from a heads perspective entitled A Long, Staid Trip.

So telling are Marc Weingarten's observations that his conclusions deserve to be printed in full. We implore everyone to reflect on how these remarks apply to so many of the bands we idolize. Given the strength of our experience and convictions there is little that is likely to sway our opinions. Yet we must acknowledge that there are intelligent, consious, music loving people out there who hate the Dead, loathe Phish and if you can't stand those two then the Cheese is just downright detestable. For our part itt is as if we are completely unwilling to acknowledge that there is a very legitimate basis for disliking these bands IN SPITE OF the beatific grace we find in them. Until such time as people start to get real and accept both the magnificent accomplishments and glaring deficiencies of our music culture we have no other choice but to use the admittedly low brow tactic of reducing to absurdity (reductio ad absurdum). Likewise until such time as people gain a better appreciation of IRONY...

(ed.

i·ro·ny

a) The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning.

B) An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning.

c) A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect. See Synonyms at WIT.

d) Dissimulation; ignorance feigned for the purpose of confounding or provoking an antagonist.

e) A sort of humor, ridicule, or light sarcasm, which adopts a mode of speech the meaning of which is contrary to the literal sense of the words.)

... people are likely to be directly offended by much of what they read here. We for instance see no inconsistency in both loving and despising a band, musician or culture because despite all surface appearances our intentions at rock bottom are good- they are derived out of a deep and abiding love of our community, a desire for our community to grow beyond our complacency.

The Northern Heads editorial style is crafted out of a desire to bridge the divide between brilliant music of all persuasions, to expand on our notion of what it means to be a 'head', to raise the bar on what it means to be heady through striving for a new mode of expression.

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A Long, Staid Trip

by Marc Weingarten

"The Deadheads gave the Grateful Dead a steady revenue stream and a safe harbor. At first, it felt like a rear guard action—fighting for community in a socially fragmented era. But it curdled into the last refuge for musical conservatism and complacency, and it seemed to destroy the band's work ethic. McNally glancingly makes reference to this dark side of the Deadhead phenomenon: "Like all fans … they could become tediously obsessed with the object of their joy," he writes.

It wasn't just the fanatics; every fan (myself included) bought into the "satori through space jam" myths, wore the same tie-dye, danced the same wiggle dance. What had begun as an inclusive rallying point for outcasts became a provincial closed society. Deadheads were supposed to represent enlightened musical inquiry, but instead, as McNally points out, they ignored adventurous opening acts and lifted lyrics out of context. In the early '90s, according to McNally, Jerry Garcia became annoyed with the fact that the line "when it seems like the night will last forever" from his bleak ballad "Black Muddy River" invariably was greeted with lusty cheering.

Thematic content hardly mattered to the loyalists any more; the band's canon instead became a series of dramatic gestures, well-timed downshifts, and dance cues. Safe within the fuzzy bubble of Deadhead-land, the band coasted for years on end, but no matter how negligent or desultory the performance, they always had the Deadheads to fall back on. Of course the Dead loved the support—they never had to work hard to earn it.

With nothing to strive for and no musical goals to attain, the band lapsed into a creative torpor for the last 15 or so years of its career, even resurrecting itself this summer for another go-round without Garcia. If McNally's book teaches us anything, it's that, for a band with a prodigious drug and alcohol habit, the Deadheads' unquestioning faith was perhaps its most dangerous narcotic."

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Jerry Garcia became annoyed with the fact that the line "when it seems like the night will last forever" from his bleak ballad "Black Muddy River" invariably was greeted with lusty cheering.

To me, it's pretty obvious people are cheering to those lyrics based on their meaning within the context of that evening or that show, not that song...

Just my 2 cents...

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To me, it's pretty obvious (if you read the next sentence) that Jerry was precisely annoyed with people reacting to that line from a 'bleak ballad' out of thematic context and taking it for a rallying cry for their last spill of liquid.

In the early '90s, according to McNally, Jerry Garcia became annoyed with the fact that the line "when it seems like the night will last forever" from his bleak ballad "Black Muddy River" invariably was greeted with lusty cheering.

Thematic content hardly mattered to the loyalists any more; the band's canon instead became a series of dramatic gestures, well-timed downshifts, and dance cues. Safe within the fuzzy bubble of Deadhead-land

Edited by Guest
Duh!
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