Day 279: Big River, 10/14/83

For my regular readers you may remember I delved deeply into this release recently, covering what I dubbed the “Mega Suite”, which is the Scarlet > Fire > Estimated > Eyes that comprises the second disc of Dick’s Picks 13.

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While that second disc dominates the release (in my opinion) there are gems to be found elsewhere too. Big River is one of those in my opinion.

Bobby’s cowboy tunes took on a different feel in the 80s as when the Grateful Dead added a wider array of effects and sounds to their sonic arsenal. Usually Bobby tunes are an opportunity for Jerry to focus on guitar and really let it rip, but for my money Weir and Brent are the stars of this particular take.

This version of Big River starts off innocently enough. Usually Bobby jumps right in to the lyrics and there are a few extra measures here so I assume missed his cue! Brent is putting his keyboards through the paces, and plays some really interesting stuff during the first chorus. He’s a bit low in the mix but if you listen for it it’s quite good. The feeling here is a bit lighter than in other versions. I can’t quite place my finger on why that is. Perhaps it’s the humbucker pickups on Tiger so Jerry’s guitar has a bit less bite to it (A bit ironic that a guitar named Tiger lacks bite, eh?!). Brent takes the lead in the solo starting at 2:30, but right around the 3 minute mark Weir adds some really cool little fills as well. The instrumental passage during the 4th minute has some interesting contributions from Weir. It sounds like he’s got a tremolo going and is accenting it quite strongly in a few places. Brent’s playing in this instrumental passage is impassioned and fun.

Complete Setlist 10/14/83

Previous Big River DFAY Selections

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