Memorial Day

workingman’s dead ~ the grateful dead ~

Posted on Updated on

another dead soldier weekend has rolled around once again. pretty much the only time anybody cares about wartime vets especially WW2, korean and vietnam vets these days. that’s fine as we’re used to it.

when i was in vietnam i asked my parents to send me a reel to reel version of the dead’s ‘workingman’s dead’. one of my all time favorite LPs which sits around mid point in rolling stones top 500 LPs of all time. i have to say i was probably the only person in my platoon that liked the album. after a time when i’d play it i would hear, oh no. not that one again. or some such nonsense. yeah, there’s no accounting for taste or so they say.

the LP first appeared in june of 1970. it’s no longer ‘in print’ but thanks to rhino records you can score a copy if you’re so inclined. they released it in 2003 or so and even added a couple of different versions of some of the songs on the original LP. thanks, rhino, very nice indeed.

the album marks the dead’s new venture into vocal harmonies and a country rock sound with jerry garcia dabbling with the peddle steel guitar. which culminated with jerry garcia and guitarist david nelson’s homage to bakersfield, ca country music with their ‘new riders of the purple sage’ LP in late 1971.

‘working man’s dead’ opens with the studio version of ‘uncle john’s band’ one of my all time favorite dead tunes. it’s a semi country rocker with semi sorta religious overtones. or maybe not. later, on track 15, ‘uncle john’s band’ turns up again in a live version recorded at winterland in oct of 1970. the live version gets the standard dead jam thing going. something for the most part always lovely to behold and listen to.

another stand out cut is the studio version of ‘casey jones’. unfortunately we aren’t treated to a live version of casey ‘high on cocaine driving that train.’

at any rate, the rhino version has 6 live tracks including the already mentioned ‘uncle john’s band’ plus an alternate studio mix of ‘new speedway boogie’. the dead were at their best live. no doubt. sometimes really good or head scratching crappy. it was always a crap shoot.

i had the pleasure of seeing them live a couple of times. once here in socal at the rose palace if i’m not mistaken and once again at the filmore in san francisco. i was in the army at the time and made the trip up from ft ord in monterey. they shared the bill with miles davis who had just released his ‘bitches brew’ LP and the two of them filled the night with some stellar music.

ok. so, it’s dead soldier weekend again. raise a glass to the fallen soldiers of the past and continuing wars. and to all of those who’ve seen war close up. even more so to the vets of the great war, WW2. their ranks shrink and thin at an astounding rate with each passing day. there will come a time soon when they will all be gone. and all but forgotten i’m certain. old soldiers never die. they just fade away.

soldiers after all are just your average workingman doing a job no one else will do.



a memorial day video

Posted on Updated on

my friend ozark sent me this video in an email this morning. musically it kicks some ass. emotionally it kicks some ass as well, especially for us vietnam vets, whom the song is about. and for our vietnam era brothers and sisters. i hope you watch it and pass it along this memorial day weekend.

there are many veterans out there that need our help. it seems that the feds, the folks that start the shit, want to cut us out of the herd more and more every day. fine. so be it. let’s all try and do more for each other.

raise a glass and remember the fallen this weekend. remember them every day.

to all of my vietnam vet brothers and sisters, i hope we all one day find peace.

watch here

dead soldier weekend (another phase[?])

Posted on Updated on

dead soldier weekend is this coming weekend. time to honor those that gave their all for this once great nation. i was thinking about just trotting out an oldie from the vault and adding something about this sad sacred weekend. it is sad to some of us in many ways. maybe it should be for you as well. lift a glass to those who’ve fought and died for this nation. it’s the least you can do.

on a lighter note, for this dead soldier weekend instead of a repeat i’m going to give you a small and maybe semi amusing story from my time in vietnam. the astute among you might notice that the title of this epistle is the same title from a few years ago. the only difference here are the grammatical marks and the story itself.

i was attached to MACV Advisory Team 48, located in Ham Tan, South Vietnam. i’ve been down that road many times before in this blog. and i’ve written about various things over the years concerning my time spent there. i hadn’t thought about this particular incident in a long time. i got to thinking about it while the brown eyed girl and i were watching ‘army wives’ the other night. yeah, it’s a soap and i’ll sit and watch it on occasion. some episodes are pretty good. like the one ann margaret was in a few weeks ago. if you don’t know who ann margaret is you should google her. but i digress. the show we were watching was about USO shows and the iraq war.

during my year in ham tan we had a few USO acts come out every now and again. no one famous. usually just some filipino rock band trying to play top forty cover tunes while trying to stay in tune. ah, well, enough alcohol and smoke will make just about anything seem palatable on any number of levels. plus, it was good PR for the americans to welcome some of the local vietnamese onto the the small compound, at night, for some free grub and music. which of course, was all well and good.

just down the dirt road from us was a Navy Seabee unit. a great bunch of guys if there ever was one. sadly, i can’t remember their unit designation, if i could i’d give them the props they deserve. the seabee detachment was Seabee Team 03-21, many thanks to terry at, i do appreciate it. at any rate, some of them would usually come up into our compound at night to drink and watch the nightly movie. some of us, on the other hand, were invited to drop by their place on the weekend to hang out and eat some decent chow for a change. a few of us even volunteered to ride shotgun for them several times. all in all, things worked out rather well. a very nice army/navy relationship.

the seabees would also always come over for the USO shows. why not? well, after a couple of the filipino band shows, several folks began to wonder about some other acts that might be available to venture out to us for an evenings entertainment. wonder indeed. wonder say, why not a band and a stripper? yeah, why not?

when the wonder actually got around to the asking it became very clear that the province senior advisor, an army bird colonel, would not have any such action taking place on army property while he was in command. no ifs and or buts, soldiers. sure we grumbled and bitched and figured, well, that was it. or so we thought. always remember, kids, that it ain’t over till it’s over and the stripper gets naked.

the seabee guys found out we couldn’t get the deal done so they cranked it up on their end and got a band, with a stripper, signed up to come out a few weeks down the road on a saturday afternoon. it had to be held in the early afternoon due to the logistics of getting them back to saigon before dark. the other bands stayed over as guests of the locals. but they didn’t have a stripper in tow. ah, yes, catholic and buddhist sensibilities along with proper decorum.

all of us army guys were, of course, invited to the up coming show. however, when the colonel found out he told the seabees they could forget about it. they then told him to kindly fuck off. they were navy and the show would be on navy property, thank you. and you, colonel, are not invited and have no further say in the matter. yes, siree. a regular dust up with a bunch of telephone traffic between the colonel and some higher ups in the navy.

as it turned out, the army colonel made a minor inroad. he got the navy to agree that there probably shouldn’t be a stripper involved. and the seabees agreed to this new wrinkle. wink wink. they would follow their officer’s wishes. officers who would be no where near ham tam come time for the afternoon show. the colonel? he was still missing from the guest list.

when the day of the show arrived the seabees got an early start and set up a stage. then they proceeded to line every piece of their heavy equipment along the wire that separated their compound from the road. a virtual wall of road graders and water tankers among other vehicles, thus pretty much sealing off the compound. and making it very hard for any lookie loos to get a good look, if any, at just what was going beyond the wire inside the compound.

we all showed up early for the festivities. eager to see the band and more importantly the stripper. who turned out to be a very lovely filipino lady. while we sat around drinking beer waiting for show-time, the colonel made at least three passes in his jeep trying like hell to see just what the fuck was going on inside the compound. he may or may not have been told to fuck off even further by the seabees but he never did see any of the show. and a fine show it was. i can assure you that amazingly enough, no gaudy debauchery occurred, before, during, or after the show. just your usual band with a stripper and a bunch of semi tanked up soldiers appreciating their show.

i wish i could tell you that the story had a happy ending. but, sadly, after the show, the colonel told the seabees they weren’t going to be allowed back on the army compound. his compound. and he told us we weren’t allowed to go on to the navy’s property any longer. what a fine mess. and what a fine ass hole he was.

yes, yet another anti-climatic true nam story from yours truly. just another of those, it is what it is stories, brought to you by the now defunct san bernardino county, ca draft board.

raise a glass and toast all the dead soldiers from all the wars. honor them all. they gave everything so we would still have the freedom to raise that glass and toast them. a simple thing to be sure and something that needs to be done more often than one weekend in may.


the following is a cut and paste from thanks to my friend, dfr, for turning me on to it.

General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of
time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from hishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.
By order of


Adjutant General