A history of the Grateful Dead, as told through its concert recordings:

“After Garcia died, Lesh was briefly involved in vetting the live releases from the vault. He also spent a great deal of time listening to the output of the final years, hoping to find material worth releasing, but came across little that made the grade. ‘It’s tremendously time-consuming, and often really boring, to listen back to what you did years ago,’ he said. ‘What bores me the most is listening to show after show, and it’s just average. You’re just going through the motions. Everything seemed better at the time than it turns out to be on tape.’ When he listens to music today, it tends to be Bach. ‘I also listen to a lot of country music, you know, like the new country music. Brad Paisley.’

“When I asked him about last year’s giant Europe ’72 release, he said, ‘I have to admit, I have not listened to it.’ It should surprise no one that Lesh can recall little or nothing of many Heads’ cherished nights. ‘Sometimes I remember what they looked like, what they felt like,’ he said. I ran a few dates by Lesh, mentioning the venue, the context, the set list, the high points—such as a certain transition in Scar->Fire. ‘Scar-Fire?’ he repeated, unfamiliar with the shorthand. I may as well have been a Ukrainian Trekkie accosting Leonard Nimoy on the street. ‘The Fox in Atlanta? I don’t remember,’ Lesh said, with a look that seemed to combine apology and condescension. The eighties dates in particular provoked a curdled look. ‘I may have consciously blocked out some of this stuff,’ he said. ‘It was very distressing to see Jerry fall apart. It seemed like the negation of everything we’d ever worked for. It wasn’t a tribe or a cult or a boys’ club, or anything like that. It was a living organism of several people. It was Homo gestalt. Did you ever read Theodore Sturgeon? “More Than Human.” Check it out. That’s the conceptual matrix.’