Day 220: Not Fade Away, 3/24/90

Grateful Dead Dozin' At The Knick

I know that Not Fade Away got played a TON. Some may suggest it was over-played. I, however, like the song very much and always enjoy it. NFA provides a nice burst of energy pretty much every time I hear it and was constructed in such a way that it gave the band a lot of versatility when moving to other songs. Now whether the band used Not Fade Away to its full potential in this capacity is another topic for another day, but for me NFA is almost always a keeper.

I remember the first time I saw Dozin’ At The Knick in a store. It was a Barnes & Noble in metro Detroit, the one right around Maple Road. Now, of course this was back in the mid 1990s and Barnes & Noble was NOT the place to find good deals on CDs. I was very tempted to purchase it then and there, but the price tag scared me away. A good thing it did because I undoubtedly found it cheaper at Best Buy. (Remember when Best Buy was a great place to buy CDs?)

One way or another I finally came into possession of Dozin’ At The Knick and it’s been a cherished release for a long time. I was still learning about the Dead at that point so by the time I got to the end of the third disc I was pretty much bowled over. The exchange between the band and the crowd at the end of Not Fade Away was like nothing I had ever heard up to that point, or since really. I guess the closest thing would be the version of Breakdown from Tom Petty’s Pack Up The Plantation but even that isn’t quite on this level.

So Dozin’ At The Knick has always been an important album for me and Not Fade Away has always been one of the most important songs on this release in my estimation. If every Grateful Dead concert had potential to be this fun it’s no surprise that people followed the band everywhere they went.

This one builds slowly and you can hear how Phil accents the off beats here more than the straight up Bo Diddley beat. Brent and Bobby dominate the vocal mix, and Brent’s B3 hums and purrs with delight. Garcia does a bit of “fanning” to get the ball rolling, as well. Together they whip things into a bit of a frenzy. There’s so much conviction in the vocals that the amount of fun these guys are having really translates well on tape. Jerry and Brent engage in a brief duel between fanning and B3 before Jerry takes a straight shot at lead. Now it’s Weir’s turn to crank up the fan and he does do with great effect. The vocal return to the verse misses the mark a bit, but Bob recovers. However, the élan is a bit reduced at this point. Phil plays some nice runs as things simmer down. The crowd is brought up in the mix more and you can hear the clapping at points, a sign of things to come. Weir does some vocal ad-libs heading into the “mmm bop bop bop-bop” section. As the band falls out the crowd exerts themselves more. Quickly this turns into a call-and-response between the band and the crowd. Some may find this hokey, but I think it’s awesome. I loved it when I first heard/bought this album a decade or so ago and every time since. Even after the band leaves the stage the crowd keeps it going during the encore break. Very cool.

Complete Setlist 3/24/90

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