Day 288: Bertha, 9/3/77

Grateful Dead Dick's Picks 15 album cover artwork

Some set openers establish a tone for the evening unlike others. For my money a solid Bertha set opener is a sure sign of good things to come.

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A quick search suggests that the Bertha > Good Lovin’ combo first emerged in 1977, so this pairing was still pretty new here. If my digging is correct this was the sixth time they put these two songs together in this way. It was a winning combo as far as I’m concerned, but if you ask me Bertha is really the stronger of the two songs, and the reason why I’m focusing solely on Bertha here.

Associating songs with elements of daily life is something that just happens with me and that I can’t really control. I’ve gotten into golf more in the past few years and the Big Bertha driver is one that has drawn one such association. Put me in the Happy Gilmore school of golf; I think it’d be great with a bit more noise, and Bertha soundtrack would sit just fine with me.

The drums are feeling it right out of the gate and Keith does a big swipe down the keyboard to kick this one off. Phil is front and center in the mix and moves slyly through the changes. Bobby and Donna add some subtle vocal assistance during the chorus, just enough to suss it out and add some color. Phil is really shining here, making mincemeat out of the fretboard. Jerry misses a line at the beginning of the second verse but the band is more than happy to compensate and provide some extra oomph! Jerry seems to appreciate the effort and growls out the rest of the verse. You can almost see him grinning as he sings. Later, Phil plays a sweet little lick early in Jerry’s solo – it’s awesome and you can’t miss it. Phil’s star burns brightly throughout this one. Things get kicked up a notch during the final “Anymore!”s before moving directly into Good Lovin’.

Complete Setlist 9/3/77

Previous Bertha DFAY Selections

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