Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Final Look Back At The Dead Concert

Taking a final look back on this 36th anniversary of the Grateful Dead concert on the Vanderbilt campus, I have found some interesting questions to ask and some tidbits of information to share from some of my research into this event.

First, the question: What is the meaning of the Mickey Mouse-looking character that suddenly appeared on the Kirkland Hall clock face the morning of the concert?

In my limited research, I haven't been able to find any connection to the Grateful Dead for The Mouse, so what is it? I am missing something? That's always a real possibility. I led a sheltered life as a town student at Vanderbilt. :)

One last question, and its the most interesting question of all after 36 years, who is ready to fess up with the story for how Mr. Mouse got up there? We want names. We want intrique. We want the truth (think we can handle the truth?)

Your thoughts, memories and confessions are welcome below by clicking on the comments link. Don't worry surely the statutue of limitations have run out by now about the Mouse. I am sure after all these years, even Disney won't care about this possible copyright infringement. Heck, it really doesn't look that much like Mickey really.

Just give us something new and different to laugh about this weekend at Reunion!

In the meantime how about one last song from the Dead. This time it's Jerry Garcia performing "Bird Song" which was one of the numbers done at the Vanderbilt concert. This particular performance, courtesy of YouTube, is from a 1980 show at Radio City Music Hall in New York City...

Here are a few other tidbits of information I have learned.The Grateful Dead came to Vanderbilt in between a show in St. Louis and one in Minneapolis. It was at the concert at The Performing Arts Center in Minneapolis, after leaving Nashville, where apparently some problems occurred with the crowd.

Says an e-mail I found on one of the Dead web sites: "This (The Performing Arts Center) was/is an elegant venue. Some ner'do-wells either intentionally smashed a huge widow to the vestibule or were simply victims of the laws of physics. Hardly matters because the incident set the tone. Milwaukee, in those days, was under tyrannical seige by Mayor Meier, Police Chief Breier, His Honor Christ T. Seaphim...not to be riled. The show went on, but it felt like house arrest."

The e-mail continues:"Despite Bobby's pleas to the audience not to ruin future visits to venues of this ilk, some just felt compelled to take things a bit too far (burning pristinely cushy seats tends to ruffle feathers)....Jerry didn't smile the whole night. I was seated stage left a few rows away. No dancing allowed. Enough said."

Wow! I guess we were lucky our concert was outside, where the only thing we could damage with our dancing and whatever was the grass on Alumni Lawn...

Well, that's not the kind of grass I was talking about, but I am sure there was plenty of that kind of weed present there that day. Along with who knows what else.

In doing more research on the internet, I found some other very interesting e-mails posted on some of the Grateful Dead sites. One said he remembered the Vandy concert being delayed that Saturday from its 10:00 AM start time until closer to noon when the LSAT Exam, which was being given that day on campus, was over.

Does anyone know if that is correct?

I took the LSAT exam, and all I remember is getting out the exam and being attracted to the music on Alumni Lawn as I made my way to the WRVU studios over in Neely Auditorium. I quickly got caught up in helping out some members of the WRVU news staff, as we sold snack food and drink items out one of the ground floor windows to the very large and hungry crowd that was assembled.

Our food and drink was part of "The News Council General Store" (so called because members of the crack WRVU News Department operated this special enterprise). Usually only staff brought the stuff, but this day, we did so well, we had to go back out for supplies a couple of times, and we made a pretty nice piece of change for our efforts as I remember.

Another e-mail I found doing research on this concert, reminded me of how many non-Vanderbilt students attended. Even some who were definitely underage.

Said one e-mail I found: "I was too young to drive and I took the Greyhound bus to Nashville...walked down Broadway to VU. It was a beautiful Fall afternoon...the show was outdoors on a hillside (editor note:not really, it's pretty flat on Alumni Lawn, maybe a gradual rise). What a magical afternoon that was...Great show."

To which, all I can add, even 36 years later, is....Amen.


Jamie Decker said...


here's snippet from the second set of the Vandy show.

CrocodileChuck said...


The mouse was a rat-it was a take-off on the GD song 'Wharf Rat', featured on that Skull & Crossbones' live record from '71