Dead and Company Review Citi Field: Six Proud Walkers On The Jingle Bell Rainbow

“Now more time to tell how
This is the season of what
Now is the time of returning”
 
If you aren’t familiar with these lyrics from, “The Eleven”, lyrics penned by Robert Hunter and music by Phil Lesh, you may think this is a verse from a Holy Book.
Just as world religions, visionary spiritualities and hermetic rambles; the Grateful Dead possess the power to transcend the human condition into transient experiences alongside the forces of the murky unknown.
 
And that's just what Dead and Company did as they delivered a magnificent two night run at New York City’s Citi-Field. The boy’s two night run included classic Dead showstoppers such as, “Eyes of the World”, “Stella Blue”, “Sugaree”, “Help > Slip > Franklins”, and “Terrapin Station”. With incredible dexterity and soulful musical conversations the band out on the highway showcased music worthy of any sunshine daydream.
 
However, the real treat came on night two when the psychedelic warriors busted perhaps one of the most eagerly anticipated tunes to be introduced into the D&C catalog, “The Eleven”. “The Eleven” has most famously appeared on the Dead’s, “Live Dead” album alongside the mindbenders, “St. Stephen”, “Dark Star”, and Bobby Blue’s, “Turn On Your Lovelight”.
 
“The Eleven” was a pinnacle of the Grateful Dead’s performances from 1968 to about 1970, where it was slowly retired from the repertoire. The tune was played a massive 93 times by our friends from the Bay Area in their entire existence as the Grateful Dead. After being phased out in 1970 the tune was revived once by Jerry and the boys September, 28, 1975 for a show at Golden Gate Park.
 
I hope we get to see this massive dance tune get played a lot more in the future for Dead and Company. “The Eleven” is truly one of those songs that transcends time and space itself in a manner that is both familiar comforting and daringly new. Let's take a look at some of the lyrics together..
 
“No more time to tell how
This is the season of what
Now is the time of returning
With thought jewels polished and gleaming”
 
Personally, this line draws attention to the conscious beauty of now. As I am typing this I am 22 years of age, born a year after Jerry Garcia’s passing in the summer of 1995. Unfortunately, due to no fault of my own, I was unable to see the magic of the Grateful Dead in full force. However, on a brighter note I have the privilege to be able to see the magic continued into the future by the grace of Bobby, Billy, and Mickey and friends. There is a lot of chatter about slow tempos and visible aging from Weir and the older folks of the band. To those who dismiss the magic of this band because of these surface observations I point you to the opening lyrics of, “The Eleven”.
 
“NOW is the time of RETURNING with thought jews POLISHED and GLEAMING”
For those of us born too late for Jerry the gift of Dead and Company brings us polished smiles and days filled with gleaming sunshine that folks of yesterday had the opportunity to cherish with Jerry. NOW is the time of RETURNING. At 70 years old the aging Bob Weir still howls, Mickey is still weird as hell, and Billy’s smile is still as inviting as ever.. And we’re all still wild eyed and tie-dyed.
 
“Now is the time past believing
The child has relinquished the reign
Now is the test of the boomerang
Tossed in the night of redeeming”
 
The political turmoil of 2018 is one of massive division, the Internet creates rifts between ideologies and families faster than one can even discern the situation, and the threat of nuclear war is always present; as it was in the days where Garcia first sang, “Walk me out in the morning dew my honey”.
 
Despite the multiple layers of darkness present in our current times it is up to us as warriors of dreams to relinquish the reign. Now is the time of the boomerang. Let us hurl the potential of tomorrow and the smiles of today into the future and let it return in the form of blooming possibilities. Today we have the choice to smile at someone new, and the chance to dance in a world that loses its groove too often. Let us relive our childhoods in ecstatic dance and think of the technicolor future with the brightest potential we can.
 
“Eight-sided whispering hallelujah hat-rack
Seven-faced marble eye transitory dream doll
Six proud walkers on the jingle bell rainbow
Five men writing in fingers of gold
Four men tracking the great white sperm whale
Three girls wait in a foreign dominion
Ride in the whale belly
Fade away in moonlight
Sink beneath the waters
To the coral sand below
Now is the time of returning”
 
Once again the Grateful Dead showcase lyrics that invite the listener into the space that is both bounded in a familiar reality and frighteningly new. One line that sticks out, in addition to “six proud walkers”, which makes me think of the physical presence of Dead and Company in our life right now, is “Four men tracking the great white sperm whale”.
The great white sperm whale is present in the incredible American story of, “Moby Dick”. In “Moby Dick”, the main character, “Ahab”, chooses to hunt the whale despite the overwhelming circumstance of danger. The repercussion for his pursuit of the beast results in the dehumanization of his own crew and his own descent into madness at times. Sound familiar? To me that sounds like a lot like a rough day on Shakedown Street. You and your pals are trying to hit every show. You’ve got your finger in the air but the miracle isn’t coming. You’ve got $1 waters but everyone seems to be well hydrated that day; no one is buying. Your belly is aching and you’ve grown tired on the road. Despite this you move onward towards the mission. The music carries you onward, just as the quest of Moby Dick moved Ahab forward, despite all complications.
And when things get rough you just remind to yourself, “this is the time of RETURNING!”
Thanks for tuning in, folks. As you can tell I’m pretty happy about the return of, “The Eleven” to the setlist and I hope you are too. We’ve got the biggest journey of tour coming up. After four more shows in the American midwest the boys will continue onto the American west. With this I am reminded of Kerouac's line,
 
“I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future”
 
To the future, my friends! See y'all at Blossom
 
Citi-Field Setlist Night 1
 
Set 1
Shakedown Street
Alabama Getaway
Loser
Hurts Me Too
Me and My Uncle
Sugaree
The Music Never Stopped
Easy Answers
 
Set 2
 
A Love Supreme >
The Other One >
Estimated Prophet >
Althea >
Terrapin Station >
Drums >
Space >
The Other One >
Days Between >
U.S. Blues
 
Encore:
Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
 
Citi-Field Setlist Night 2
 
Set 1
 
Sugar Magnolia
Mississippi Half Step Uptown Toodeloo
Peggy O
Bertha
Comes a Time
Jack A Roe
Bird Song > New Speedway Boogie >
Bird Song
 
Set 2
 
Help on the Way >
Slipknot! >
Franklins Tower >
St Stephen >
William Tell >
The Eleven >
Drums >
Space >
Eyes of the World >
Stella Blue >
Sunshine Daydream
 
Encore:
One More Saturday Night

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