The “Daily Dose of the Dead” today is a near perfect rendition of Wharf Rat from the Portland Memorial Coliseum on May 19, 1974. The poster advertising the show around town is displayed in the album artwork of this post. Tickets were $5.50 and you could get them at two local bank branches among other places.
The Portland Memorial Coliseum was home to the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA. The Beatles, Elvis and the Grateful Dead all played there. Speaking of the Trailblazers their #1 pick and the 1st pick overall in the 1974 draft was Bill Walton. Bill was a huge deadhead and is said to have seen over 600 live dead shows. I am sure he attended this one and it may have even been his introduction to the band personally.
The lyrics to the song are a classic Robert Hunter tale which many have surmised is taken from several literary works. The song also inspired Garcia to create a painting called “August West” who is the wharf rat in the story. You can see the various theories on the lyrics and Garcia’s drawing in this link to the annotated lyrics. Wharf Rat was first performed on Feb 18, 1971 at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester and remained heavy in the dead’s rotation through 1995 (played 395 times).
This show is one of the best in 1974 and maybe one of the best from start to finish of all time. Of course being 1974 this was the year of the “Wall of Sound” which was the dead’s massive PA sound system. The show was one of those marathon 4 hour+ shows the dead did back then. The full set-list can be seen here on dead.net. It contains 32 tracks and included one of only 3 times the dead played “money money” which was on the Mars Hotel album. The Jams after Truckin’ in this show are monumental!
"Blind and dirty, Asked me for a dime, a dime for a cup of coffee
I got no dime, but I got some time to hear his story”
Truly a great mellow dose to start off this Sunday… enjoy!