Difference between revisions of "Robert Hunter interview 3/12/88"

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Latest revision as of 21:08, 29 July 2020

Robert Hunter interview
3/12/88
Copyright *c*1988 by Mary Eisenhart. All rights reserved.

This interview was done around the time of the release of *Liberty*.
. . . it probably presupposes a fair amount of familiarity
with Hunter's work, for a couple of reasons. One is the proverbial
impossibility of stepping in the same river twice; I did a more general
interview in 1984, and it's in the Fall 1984 Golden Road (the
ostensible purpose of that interview was to discuss *Amagamalin
Street*, but there's a lot of stuff about literature, songwriting,
Hunter's adventures in Catholic school, and stuff like that. The reason
I haven't uploaded this one is that the GR story is the most complete
transcript that exists and the tape was destroyed in a fire, and
somehow I just haven't gotten around to typing in 7 pages of about
5-point type. . .).  The other continuity problem you may run into
arises from the fact that I'd just finished transcribing maddog's tape
of the Hunter interview he did for the Deadhead Hour, and Hunter was
only too happy when I suggested not going over that same ground.

The interview took place on the morning of Saturday, March 12.  Later
that evening the GD pretty much swept the Bammies, but Hunter didn't
think he'd be going. He looked pretty comfortably settled in for the
day, all right.  We were in the living room of the house he's just
moved out of. We got to talking about making videos, which has recently
become one of Hunter's big interests. We talked about Justin
Kreutzmann's "Making of Touch of Grey" video, and Hunter played me the
video of "Bone Alley," which I was trying to talk him into releasing as
a commercial product like Making of TOG,  and that's pretty much where
the tape starts. 
 

Robert Hunter: . . .We're going to print up a couple hundred copies of
[the Bone Alley video] and give them to record stores if they buy a
certain number of copies or something like this, a promo deal or
something like that, for in-store showing and stuff like that. Other
than that, I simply don't understand why anybody would attempt to sell
a video when it's so easy to flip on the VCR and take it right off
MTV.

Mary Eisenhart: I think because the loss of quality on each generation is
fierce.

RH: I didn't realize they were selling the "Touch of Grey" video.

ME: Not the Touch of Grey video, Justin Kreutzmann's Making Of. . . is
a commercial product. I haven't seen the other. But I speak as one who
hasn't had a tv for a year and a half.

RH: I've got one, two--I've got four tvs now, and one, two three, four,
five VCRs. Seven VCRs if you count the ones that are built into my
cameras.  I'm going loony on this stuff.

ME: Technology has a way of doing that.

RH: I went out about two or three days ago and got myself a Super 8
millimeter, you know, an old film camera--you try and FIND one of those
things, it's impossible. But you need it to do animation, so I've got
about 30 feet of animation that I've shot so far,  I've been going like
a little. . .
        . . . I've just been going like a bug on it, taking things like 
pliers and pencils and making them characters and whatever, having them
chase each other and stuff.  I'm just going to shoot dozens and
dozens--everything and anything that occurs to me I'm going to shoot
and out of all that I expect to--I'm just going to start building an
animation library.  I'm excited now, that's why I'm going to One Pass
today, to look over what can be done.
        I did the post-production on this (Bone Alley).  I took his
footage in there and added video effects and things like that, and I
just got *bit* right at that point.

ME: I got to watch some of that kind of thing on the Throwing Stones
video, and I can see how you'd get that way.

RH: I've not seen that video.

ME: I haven't seen the finished version either. No tv.
        Your last album was called *Rock Columbia*; this album is 
called *Liberty*.

RH: I hadn't thought of that.  That sounds very much like American Imagery,
doesn't it?

ME:  It certainly does, and considering the brand of American imagery
that's being put out by the Reagan regime, and considering that a lot
of people were uncomfortable with the Minuteman imagery on the
anniversary poster, can you clarify what you're pointing at?

RH: Liberty doesn't have much to do with anything other than the notion
of personal freedoms. That's what I'm--in the first song in there, it
makes a statement on the point of "if I were a killer I'd kill for
love," which is a statement on the subject of pulling the plug on
brain-dead patients and things like that.  I'm trying to make that
clear in a video that I'm working on right now, in case--I'm afraid
that line could be misinterpreted, and so the video thing that I've
already shot for it has a hand going up to a bunch of plugs that says
"Caution: Life Support System" and yanking them.  Which I think at
that point ought to clarify any possible misconception on that line.
        But it's about personal freedoms, in many directions. You've
got the worried man [in the song of the same name on *Liberty*] who's
taking the personal freedom and getting the hell out of a bad
situation, a relationship situation.  "Black Shamrock," which I look at
as an admonishment to a certain young person about why get hung up in
this, if you don't like it, you know, you're young enough to get out
and do something. Otherwise, you know, not getting hung up in
aggravating cycles. Everything on that album, right up to "When A Man
Loves A Woman,"  which is where your personal freedom or liberty is in
your own head and can be in terms of your relationship--if you can keep
that together, the rest of the stuff that's happening around you may
not make that much difference.

ME: Do you see more of a need these days to wave that personal freedom flag?

RH: Absolutely. "This is the time that things we love are dying and the
things we do not love are rushing to replace them." [quote from Rilke]

ME: For example. ..

RH: All the input that people have is input from major networks.   
        I'm not certain we have the options for personal freedom any more. 
I'm not sure we have sufficient information to make choices which are
not made for us by the machinery at this point.  I think this is a
frightening time; I think we are well into the 1984 syndrome.  Well,
well, well into it in a frightening way.

ME: More so than we were in the '60s?

RH: Of course.

ME: How so?

RH: You're asking me to THINK.  I thought I was saying stuff that
everyone just says, yeah, yeah, and agrees to, and  says, yes, this is
it, this is a time when our liberties are greatly endangered, we don't
have a presidential candidate that we can believe in, we won't have one
again, we have the freedom to vote as we are instructed to vote.
        Of course, what's new there.  But in the '60s [inaudible] a
generation expressed our notions of personal freedom and we outlined
the ways in which we wanted them and we gave the powers that be a
program for exactly [inaudible]

ME: Given the situation, what are the responsibilities of individual people
like us who feel an affinity for this?

RH: You have to seek them out for yourself.  What is freedom or liberty
*to you.*  I believe that there will come  a time when these things
have to be personal. If there are any personal terms that aren't
already a great homogenized collective consciousness. Individual ways.
As I was saying in the song Liberty, the freedom to dress like a duck.
Something as outer as that, if that's what means freedom to you,
because without that we do not have culture that can go anywhere except
in totalitarian terms.
        So it's a protest against anything that has to do with
totalitarianism, that we heap on ourselves, or which is put on us from
the outside, and we're challenged to find individual points of
departure within there.  I am not counseling revolution, I am
counseling the absolute need for discerning the nature of your own
needs for freedom and liberty so that you don't have a totalitarian
regime in your own head. That's all we can do. We can't fight the
machine, I think, in any collective way, but we can be so many wild
turkeys out there that it's hard to get a bead on us.

ME: But to a lot of people, this is a time of greater freedom than has 
existed before.

RH: You have opportunities, certainly. We have the opportunities--who
takes 'em? There's not much left but the shopping malls around this
area, as far as I know. Movies, television, shopping malls, if you want
to go out and do something. . . . Oh well, no, anyway, I'm getting off
track there. [inaudible]
        You could find yourself in a concentration camp and find
personal liberties, personal freedoms. I think these things are
interior. That's always been my point in talking about the Grateful
Dead.  Very seldom have I made any call in songs to collective or
radical action.  I say come with me or go alone in Uncle John's Band.
Either way is good.  You can join up this Deadhead network, fine,
perhaps, [inaudible] something, but it's going to be a collective
consciousness once again, and one personal choice is to go alone.  I've
said it several times in that record, also, "I say what occurs to me,
and  I don't check with you." There are key phrases all through there
which are definitely just pointing towards personal freedom.  I'm not
speaking of [inaudible] up in arms against them.  I don't see it them
and us; I think we're one big collective machine, and the individual
human being has the option if he can get smacked awake, either through
poetry or some other confrontation, to see those things. But it must be
on a personal level.

ME: One of the things you encounter in the parking lot [outside of Dead
shows] is people who use the GD scene as an excuse to do whatever they
want with no regard to anybody else. So what's the flip side of that
freedom?

RH: License, you mean?

ME: Yeah. It's a big problem in the Deadhead scene right now. All of a
sudden it's having to absorb twice its customary numbers and try and
keep things together.

RH: [gets up, walks over to the window and throws back the curtain] 
Here's an example of what could be considered an example of personal
freedom. Last night somebody heaved something through my window. That
could be considered freedom.  That could be considered liberty. I mean,
common sense tells you when you're impinging on others. I don't look at
liberty as an impingement on the freedoms--life and happiness, things
Jefferson knew of, things like life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness of others--unless that pursuit of happiness happens to be
breaking your windows, in which case we're talking about something else
here. I suppose there's a big crossover into license.  I would say that
any person who's concerned with the notions of individual liberties
rather intuitively knows where to draw the line.
        In other words, you can't prescribe.

ME: All these doors are open, but you're responsible for what happens when
you go through them.

RH: It'll be a little bit more dangerous because right now the broad
conservative bent of consciousness is moving toward safety and
security.  This is fine to a certain degree; past that degree it's a
living death of trying to maintain what you have.

ME: To jump to another project, is there some affinity between the
Liberty concept, which you've been putting out for some 20 years in
various forms, and your Duino Elegies project?

RH: I suppose so. As I was doing this, I had to fight with the little
critic in my head that says who the hell do you think YOU are, to have
any right to do that? I said, "Look," to myself, "Does this line sound
better than any other translation of this line so far, or not?"
Because that's what I was going for.  Each line in that  I would not be
satisfied until it either said the same--some of the stuff can be
translated directly across and everybody's got the same translation of
that line--or shades of meaning are possible in it.  If it didn't sound
better, I kept working at it until it did. At that point, I have to
trust my own taste. That's my absolute final arbiter and judge, it's my
own taste. If my taste is bad, then this is a bad translation. If my
taste is good, this is a good translation.  *I'm* not the judge.

ME: What are the particular problems that you run into translating
somebody else's work, as contrasted to creating your own work?

RH: Well, I lent Rilke my style.. . .The particular problems are just
to be sure that you have the shade of meaning that that writer is
trying to direct. I felt that I had a good grasp of what the Elegies
mean. I don't find them as ambiguous as some people.  I think I know
what he's talking about, in fact I'm pretty sure I do, I would say that
I AM sure, except that would be a grossly egotistical statement.
        But I'm not flattened by Rilke; I never was. I think what he is
saying had not been said before, nor could it have been said before the
turn of the century. It's a collective growing idea, and he was there
when Picasso was first making his splash, and there was just a lot
going on in Europe at that time, and he's in the avant garde.

ME:  This is essentially his last work, right?

RH:  He did the Sonnets to Orpheus directly after writing the final
elegy. But he wrote those in a day or two, I think, two or three days.
He was off--he'd broken through in the Elegies and he was running on
the energy he'd broken through to, and just kept whizzing. I beleive
that what's valuable in Rilke can be found in the Elegies, personally.

ME: Is there any truth to the legend that he died of blood poisoning
contracted from a rose thorn?

RH: No! (laughs) There was somebody who did, I'm not certain, but it wasn't
Rilke.

ME:  This is an Urban Legend on the Well right now. . . "How appropriate to
have a Rilke translation. .."

RH:  (laughs) You should leave it that way.  No, he died of some kind
of a rare blood disease which caused him a great deal of agony and
pain. A terrible thing to lay on such a sensitive person as he. He
spent his last months in terrible agony.

ME: What drew you to him in the first place? Why translate him and not
somebody else? Last time I talked to you [in 1984] you said you were
going to translate Wagner. . .

RH:  (laughs) I started to translate *Parsifal*, got just a little bit
into it, and suddenly realized it was vacuous. It didn't have anything
to say.  It SOUNDS like it has  a lot to say. . .(laughs)
        That's going to be my last translation, I'm pretty sure of
that.  I bit off more work than I realized when I started. I didn't
make a conscious decision to translate Rilke. I've always loved Rilke;
one evening I was just reading several translations at once and
comparing and contrasting and thinking, "You know, that just doesn't
ring the way I know it should ring." So I said, "Why don't you try it
yourself?" And I pulled down my Cassell's German Dictionary, and looked
up shades of meaning and things, and I translated the first page of it,
and I said, "Now that sounds the way *I* would like it to sound." And
the next night I didn't have anything to do so I went a little bit
further in it, an before I knew it I'd finished the first elegy.  It
was taking a couple of days, a week, whatever. Then I was going to just
put it away.  That was a nice interesting exercise, I did it for
personal pleasure.  And then I felt drawn to do it a little bit more,
and the next thing I knew I realized I was doing a full-scale
translation of the Elegies, and so I rolled up my sleeves and got to
work.
        The first draft took, I'd say, probably about three months.
I'd start working about nine in the evening and work till about two or
three in the morning, and just kept at it. I finally went through five
or six revisions before I came up with what looked like it was saying
it right.

ME: Now that you've published a book of your translation of somebody
else's poetry, does this mean that we might see a book of YOUR poetry
one of these days?

RH: Yeah. I want to get that Faust out one of these days, but I want to
give it a full rewrite first. I have it over on Osborne computer disks
right now and if I can ever get it transferred over onto Mac disks like
that I could look at what I had. . .

[intense pressure applied by computer journalist to get lyricist to
convert files]

RH: Yeah, I'm going to get some stuff out.  Definitely I'll keep
publishing. That was the beginning of it, and I see it can be done.
It's no great shakes to get a book out.  I've passed through the
magical wall of fire that says "Thou Shalt Fear To Publish."

ME:  Do you think that you might do a certain amount of promotional
book-signings and the like?

RH: As little as humanly possible.  I haven't been on the Rilke. What
I've done is  talked about it in my Liberty interviews, which seems as
good a way to put it forth as any.
        I've also just finished making a tape with Tom Constanten, of a
reading of it.  He's playing Brahms, Chopin, one Schubert piece, and
one Scriabin piece.  We've got it done now, and I think it's pretty
successful.

ME: And you're going to bundle it with the book?

RH:  I think that that's what I'll to do. Bundle it with the book and
give it to public radio. I'm not thinking of retailing it by itself.

ME: That's the kind of thing I'd like to see on CD. . .

RH: I don't think it would be cost-effective. And I don't think there'd
be a great demand for it, quite frankly. What I'd just as soon see done
with that is to broadcast it and alert people to tape it.  It's good
clean quality; I think you'd get a pretty good generation off the
radio.
        I just think that it's a nice companion for the book, because
people tend to listen  a lot more easily than they read these days.

ME: Yeah; I read, but I also play *The Flight of the Marie Helena* in my 
car driving around. . . 

RH: I think Flight of the Marie Helena was a good kickoff for recording
the Elegies. It gave me a notion of how to use my voice properly.  It's
a lot more relaxed reading than Marie Helena, and the music is--well,
TC playing *good stuff* behind it. This is like the Marie Helena in
Wonderland. . . (laughs) I like the tape. I think it'll give a lot of
people a good insight, at least, into my translation, because the
emphases are in the right place. You can read a book, and there's no
emphasis lines unless every other word is underlined or something, so
*I* underlined the words that needed emphasizing. I think I made a good
deal of sense of it.

ME: How do you feel about the fact that the Grateful Dead, and its
message, and its music, and its culture, and everything else, is
essentially attracting not only huge quantities of people it never did
before, but also apparently a different KIND of people. Why now, after
22 years?

RH: A well-recorded hit song. Simple as that. I think that's all we
ever needed.  We needed just to touch a match to a fuse, and we did,
and I think that--  Well, everybody knows we're experiencing a great
growth explosion right now, and I think that the growth explosion will
mainly follow the laws of that sort of thing.  What goes up comes down.
What goes up quickly may come down quickly. I think we'll find
ourselves--unless we follow up with another real killer album, in which
case the same thing'll apply, only longer--I think that those who are
attracted to us because we're media darlings at the moment will filter
off into the next media thing and drop us. And we'll be left with our
core audience, enlarged by those who came, saw, and felt part of this
and want to stay with it.  So it will be somewhat larger after this,
but I should say that we'll boil back to our core audience as soon as
we put out a lousy record, and we better be real good to 'em, because
we're going to meet 'em on our return. (laughs)
        I was reading (my diary) a couple of weeks ago, and I got to
the point, I think a month or two before Touch of Grey was released, or
In the Dark.  Things were going so well right then. I started making
notes every week or so, yeah, I'm still up. I'm still happy. I felt
that I had worked hard, and and I'd earned the right to have at least a
season of feeling that accomplishments had paid off, and felt just
grand.  It felt wonderful.

ME: What changed from your perspective? We know what it looked like
from the outside, but what was it like on the inside?

RH: Everybody was just happy.  Everybody in the  scene was happy. I
mean, we'd worked and worked and worked and worked.  I mean, we're not
putting out records for nobody to listen to, for nobody to play on
radio, for it to not enter into the American consciousness, or world
consciousness. I mean, we're trying to talk to people. And all of a
sudden people are listening. And it's just grand.

ME: Do you attribute the fact that they're listening to the fact that
you put out a well-recorded hit record, rather than any particular
external circumstances?

RH: Well, this seems to be what does push bands over the edge, is the
hit record. And we had a hit video and a hit record at the same time,
and that's sufficient reason.  There may be other factors involved.
        Well, you know, the Deadheads don't like this one little bit.
They don't like sharing their band with the murky masses out there, but
as I wrote in my letter to them, this never was intended to be a
private party, it just turned out that way. . .(laughs)

ME: Yeah, there's been a fair amount of discussion of that letter. It's
been uploaded and passed around.

RH: And it was, by the way--that was passed through the band. These
were the band's ideas that had come up in meetings, things that we felt
had to be addressed, and I was more or less appointed to put it in
letter form.  So this is less a speaking for myself than speaking the
general feeling there. I do want that  understood.  Because my
interests in the commercial arm of this are exceedingly slight.
        I don't like to see things going wrong, and I'd like to help
make them right, but there's been quite a response to this letter. And
the commercial office is slagged down with piles of letters addressed
to me, and I'm afraid that the perception is that I'm in charge of the
commercial office, and it's not so.
        And that is a whole can of termites. I never wanted us to get
into this (laughs) selling stuff in the first place, beyond our
records, but now that we are I'll see what I can do to help.  But I
really view it vaguely with alarm when I see the mess it's causing in
the parking lots with the bootleggers and the mafioso.

ME:  Most people want to do right and not rip off the Dead, but this
summer there was a lot of bad feeling among the artists on how this was
handled, because there seemed to be a lot of arbitrary crackdowns
instead of going after the highly visible big-time guys.

RH: I've read the Well's stuff on this. Gans gave me a big stack of
stuff on this, and I'd like to get more of that stuff sent to me. I do
want to read that and keep up on it, because it DOES change my point of
view.
        I mean, what are we going to do, hire 100 security cops to
watch for all the stuff like that and turn ourselves into . . .

ME: It seems that you would lose the essetial thing if you turned into a
police state.
        What would you like to see? What can the audiences do for the 
Grateful Dead? You're operating with a phenomenal amount of goodwill;
if you made some suggestions. . .

RH: People would pay no attention. They wouldn't pay any attention.
That's a fact.
        There's some need to control the bootleg merchandise, out
there, not only because of profit we're losing,  but mainly because
it's making a scabby scene out there and everybody knows it.  What I
read on the Well confirms it--people are talking about how they don't
LIKE going there very much any more. They like the Grateful Dead enough
to go anyway, but it's a scabby scene. And that we should clean up.

ME: [summary of Express article on mayhem at the Henry J]

RH: How can the Deadhead community police themselves is the big
question.  'Cause if the Grateful Dead does it, we don't have any
option except to hire a bunch of cops and send 'em out there. I mean,
they're turning US into cops in that case.  It's not the good
Deadheads, it's the bad ones we're worried about.

ME: If somebody paints grafitti at Laney College when the Deadheads are
in town, the Deadheads'll get blamed for it whether they had anything
to do with it or not.

RH: And very slowly venues will start closing across the United States
as this stuff goes on. So for your own self-preservation, tuck a
garbage bag in your back pocket and maybe pick something up
afterwards.  Because it is your scene out there.
        [hypothetical solutions to the problem]  We actually do need you
now to help.  The band could shut down for a year, and then the
bootleggers and all this scene that's coming around it would probably
dissipate and go out looking for other marks. But the fact is they
would get together just as soon as we did, and that wouldn't seem like
much of an option. Another option that I was outlining was maybe
filling squirtguns with ink and going around and squirting bootleggers
(laughs), but then again this isn't worth one cracked head, actually,
that's not right either. So I think the main thing is, right now, that
dialogue between the band and the Deadheads has been opened.
        The solution I'd like to be is to make it uncomfortable for the
professional bootleggers and the ticket counterfeiters, uncomfortable
for them in some way.  But that has to be a Deadhead action. I think if
we can get together on some kind of strategy I think we can police our
own environment.

[discussion of scalpers]

RH: It's hard for me to understand how anybody could be so desperate to
get into a Grateful Dead show myself, so--I have to put myself into
their shoes, and feel like, hey, this is a matter of life and death for
me. There's something a little bit weird about it in the first place.
But that's for me; I do understand it is that way. Maybe I don't have
the amount of sympathy I should for all this, and don't really see the
problem. (laughs)

ME: Well, I can see that too, seven years after my first concert, but
there's a certain point, especially when all this is very new to you,
when this is essentially your lifeline. And there's a lot of people who
either really hate what they do or do something that's basically pretty
dead and nothing, and this is the only time they're alive is at Dead
shows. . .

RH: Oooh, that's . . .

ME: Some of them have got parents with expectations, some of them have got
mortgages. . .

RH: You're going to find this problem, like when people are defining
their individual liberties in terms of a group that services these
liberties--this isn't individual liberty again, this is just kind of a
hippie totalitarianism of its own that's growing up here.  And it's
creating a logistical problem of great magnitude.
        To the point where they've rejected my song, Keep Your Day
Job.  (laughs)

ME: Well, they didn't want to hear it. . . Neither did I.

RH: I said keep it until your night job pays.  (laughs) I didn't say
hang onto it forever, for cryin' out loud.

ME: Keep punching that cash register while transforming yourself into
something else.

RH: (laughs) Yeah.

ME: It is true. On the other hand, Ship of Fools is enjoying this great
resurgence. [Billboard in Berkeley with the Contragate guys captioned
"Don't lend a hand to raise no flag atop no ship of fools"] Was it
specifically a political song when you wrote it?

RH:  It's funny. A lot of my songs are just talking to myself, you
know, and I can't recall the exact situation of Ship of Fools. Of
course there was big political stuff going on at the time, and I'm sure
that it was partly about that. A lot of my stuff  though--it's not the
wise man out there cautioning the unwise on how to become wise, it's
the wise part of me talking to the unwise part of me and kind of trying
to straighten myself out. I mean, this whole thing--a lot of my stuff
is a big dialogue with myself over the years. And I suspect the same is
true for most long-term songwriters. Outside is inside--how does it
look? (laughs)

ME: So how have things evolved for 20 years from your standpoint? What's
different now from [1974's Tales of the Great] *Rum Runners* [his first
solo album]?

RH: Hey, I'm remixing Rum Runners in a couple of weeks. I'm going into
the studio with Tom Flye. You know there's a lot of Rum Runners that
isn't on the album, like there are incredible jam outs at the end of
Arizona Lightning and It Makes Me Mad, and some of the other tunes
have. . .  I'd totally forgotten, they got clipped off in order to get
the right amount of time on the album sides, 'cause it was just too
much for one record, so I'm going to put it out on CD.  I'm going  to
put all the jams. With automated mixing we should be able to--there's
all kinds of levels on Rum Runners that you don't hear on the record,
instrumental interplays, and things that just had to kind of be left
out. But with automated mixing and CD right now, I mean, the whole
grand party that we had making Rum Runers, I think, can be brought out.
I'm going to have Tom Flye go at it.

ME: Who's Tom Flye again?

RH: He's just the ace mixer around. He mixed for John Lennon, and Rick
James, and right now he's--he's been working with Mickey on this Walter
Cronkite sailboat extravaganza [a documentary on Dennis Conner's
America's Cup victory] lately, so he's free for a while. He wants to
take the project on, and I want to like duck some of my vocals back,
because some of those brash vocals on it, duck 'em back a little bit
and bring out some of the instrumental interplay that's going on there,
'cause there's a hell of an album there. I just listened to the Dan
Healy mixes of the album, which I hadn't listened to it in 13 years or
however long it's been since that record  came out.. I'm just AMAZED at
the amount of stuff in that record that never did really make it to
disk.  So I think that this one could use its shoes shined and put out
again.
        I LOVE the record. I like it better than anything I've done
(laughs). I hated it for years and years, and I finally just listened
to it and I thought HEY!  'Cause I'm far enough away from it now that
all my body cells have changed entirely two times over, and I can look
at it the way other people look at it now.  Everybody always says, why
don't you reissue Rum Runners? You've never done a better record.. .
Okay, I'll get it out. . .(laughs)

ME: That'll be good news to a lot of people like me who've been making
do with old scratched copies.

RH: I've only got one copy of that and one copy of Tiger Rose. So I'd
like some nice copies myself.

ME: Are you going to do the same thing to Tiger Rose?

RH: I think I'll wait a little while. I'm actually thinking of redoing
the vocals on Tiger Rose, because you know I had to leave the studio
and go to England--my son was being born--before I had a chance to put
final vocals on that, and I'm not satisfied with them in any way. And I
don't see that just because everybody else leaves a record as though
it's pressed in concrete for all time, why I need to do that. I think I
might just outrageously go ahead and redo a couple of the vocals on
Tiger Rose.  But Rum Runners,  no. I won't touch anything. I'm going to
leave all the broken tones and everything right intact, because that
record IS as it is.

ME: What was it like recording it? It was the first record you ever
made, and it seems to have about 50 of your closest friends on it. ..

RH: It's LIVE. (laughs) It's live and it's got warts. Garcia says that
it's got--every way to make a record improperly or engineer it
improperly is on that.  He says people who had no business with their
hands on recording equipment were helping to record this thing. . .In
fact it was one huge party and went on month after month after month
up at Mickey's studio where we could run all day and all night and
people'd come in and overdub and [Steve] Schuster brought his band in,
made arrangements for certain things.
        It was just one big party. God knows who isn't on that record.
I think I'll write a little blurb inside describing the scene on that
evening.  I want to keep making records, but I think in between them I
think I'll release one of the old ones for each of the new ones I do.
Get 'em updated, remixed.
        I want to remix Rock Columbia. I'm not satisfied with that. In
Tom Flye's hands, with automated mixing, I know there's a much better
record in Rock Columbia than anybody's hearing. Same with Amagamalin
Street--once again I've got a record there that is not properly put
together.