The Dead, djs, blends, and the One

I’ve been laughing out loud reading a book on the Dead. This passage, while not one of the comic bits, is testimony to the close proximity between artistry shared by jam bands and djs alike. Deadhead ravers have always grooved on this — the Dead after all were masters of the transition from song to song.

The link that follows this quote is to a stream of the song in question: “The Other One” It’s a 68 performance and historical in its own right.

From Dennis McNally’s “A Long Strange Trip”

One of the fundamental rhythms of world music is the clave, the shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits rhythm that came to be identified in rock and roll with th songs “Bo Diddley” and “Not Fade Away,” what Bo Diddley, whose drummer Clifton James had perfected it, called “the sanctified rhythm.” Now the Dead would take it to another level. Two drummers made for two rhythms, and Bo Diddley’s 1-2-3-4 became fours and sixes. “That was the first time that six was ever really swung in rock, was made into a rock and roll groove,” said Hart. “Because I was adding the triple while Billy was playing the shuffle, the backbeat to a sort-ofakinda shuffle, and I was on the tom-toms, which suggested more of a primitive, primal… you had the backbeat, and you also had the rolling 1-2-3-4-5-6… then Bill would stay in fours, and I would play eight in six, or six in eight, and time would be broken and we’d go off…. So ‘The Other One’ was more than a six, or more than an eight. It was the interlocking parts, and how they went together…the phrase was very often never completed. Remember, we were doing a lot of acid then, so linear progression was distorted. So we would just drop the one, we would get lose, we would call it the pulse. We would go on the pulse, so all of a sudden the pulse would lead us to a place, and we were completely lost, we didn’t know where the original one was, so instead of struggling with the one, we would establish a new one, and that was the telepathy that me and Billy had. And they would catch on to our telepathic one, and they would latch on. When the third person went to it, it became legitimate. It would stay illegitimate for a certain amount of time, and we would be able to fly or float on the pulse, and there was no need to sound the one or recognize the one. Sometimes the one was known, and we’d let it go untouched. Other times we all pounced on it and sounded it and made it into a one. Sometimes we would hint at the one and come off it and never do it twice. A new language was being born a new rhythmic language was being born in the Grateful Dead. That’s the magic of ‘The Other One.’ Free of the basic 4/4 box of almost all rock and roll, the now polyrhythmic Dead now had what Hart called a “license to travel.”

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