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Monday, March 8, 2010

Pigpen's 37th Yartzeit - Tell Me Baby, Why You Been Gone So Long?

March 8th is the 37th Yartzeit of Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, the original keyboardist for the Grateful Dead and, according to DeadNet, the one we have to thank for the Grateful Dead becoming a Rock Band.

From Dead.Net:

Starting a rock band was actually Ron McKernan's idea, and he was its first front man, delivering stinging harmonica, keyboards, and beautiful blues vocals in the early years of the Warlocks/Grateful Dead. Nicknamed "Pigpen" for his funky approach to life and sanitation, he was born into a family that was generally conventional, except for the fact that his (Caucasian) father was an R & B disc jockey. And that sound put Pig's life on the rails of the blues from the time he was 12. Liquor, Lightnin' Hopkins, the harmonica and some barbecue - it was an unusual life for a white kid from San Carlos, but it was Pig's life. And the hard-drinkin' blues life began to catch up with Pig by the very early '70s. He played his last show with the band in 1972, and on March 8, 1973, he died of internal hemorrhaging caused by his drinking.

It's sobering (in a not-fun way) to realize Pigpen died at the age of 27. Anyone who ever saw or heard him perform surely felt they were listening to a much older man. Effects of drinking himself to death or a preternaturally old soul in a prematurely worn-out young body? As Jesse Colter sang:

Nothin' I wanna do oh I guess I could get stoned And let that past paint pictures on my head I could kill a fifth of Thunderbird, write myself a sad song Tell me baby why you been gone so long


In honor of Pigpen we're playing three consecutive early Grateful Dead concerts tonight, but first ...

Today's Torah Schedule:
  • 1pm, 5:45pm: Rabbi Betzalel Phillip Edwards Series on the Chevyria, the Piasetzner Rebbe's Conscious Community, continues.
  • 2:15pm - Rabbi Dovid Bendory "Keeping Pesach Cleaning Sane"
  • 3:45pm - Rabbi Chaim Richman "Introduction to the Breastplate" - Continuing the series on the Priestly Garments.
  • 4:45pm - Lorelai Kude's interview with Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven on the subject of International Temple Mount Awareness Day (Coming Up on March 16th, Rosh Chodesh Nissan)
Today's Music Schedule:
  • 8am - 1pm "Morning Dew for the Morning Jew" Show starts as always with Rebbe Nachman's Tikkun HaKlali & continues through the morning with new music from Traffic, Led Zepplin, Barenaked Ladies, and more!
  • 1pm - 6pm "Israeli Soul" Afternoon features music from Aharit HaYamim, Sasha Rose, Old-Time Banjo Music from Laura Liebe Schulman and the Israeli Soul Sounds of Ehud Banai.
    6pm - "Betten Gav" Chillaxation Time with YES! Tales of Topographic Oceans!
    8pm - Our tribute to "The Pigpen Years" begins with the 1968 Carousel Ballroom Concert (3-16-68)
  • 9:30pm - Grateful Dead at the Golden Hall Community Concourse in San Diego (8-5-70)
  • 10:30pm - Grateful Dead from July 7th 1971 at the Fillmore West
Enjoy Monday on Radio Free Nachlaot, and don't forget TONIGHT if you live in Jerusalem - a benefit concert for Ephraim Novak featuring the music of Chaim Dovid and Chevre Yitzchak Attias - 7pm - 10pm at Mayanot Shul (28 Narkis Street in Jerusalem) - 40NIS requested donation - be there if you can!