"These days" he said, "they would have re-recorded the whole song. But in those days, they knew the difference between being great and being perfect."
I was reminded of this when I received the latest e-mail from The Grateful Dead, pushing their latest Road Trips issue. It's from 1988, and the blurb contrasts the shows from 1988 with 1989.
The 1989 Dead shows were amazing, but I don't listen to them a great deal. Even though Garcia and Lesh have both stated on the record that this was the year when they were - individually and collectively - at their peak.
Sure, they were perfect. But they weren't great.
They weren't great in the way that they were great in the acid test days, in '70 and '71, '73 and '74, in '77 and early '78, when they were raw and edgy, when they made adrenalin-fueled mistakes, when Jerry forgot the words, Weir the chords, and Donna couldn't sing in tune.
But they reached heights they never achieved subsequently, when they were more professional, when they took fewer risks, when they were too fucking good to be true.
But, if you're thinking about getting the new Road Trips, I can confirm that 1988 - particularly the featured show at what was then the Brendan Byrne Arena on 1st April and of course the Oakland Coliseum run at the turn of the year - is pretty damn good.
Today's listening: the Dead, 1968-09-02, Betty Nelson's Organic Raspberry Farm. Not perfect by any means, but great.