Wednesday, June 01, 2011

'cause she got box-back nitties and great big noble thighs

I've blogged previously about how much I enjoy listening to the various performances of the Grateful Dead's version of Turn on Your Lovelight. I'd been rooting through the Grateful Dead archives at to try to find the first performance of that song by the Dead, who else has performed it with the Dead besides Janis Joplin, etc. But meanwhile some Deadheads have already done the work for me on this page the best of Turn on Your Lovelight. Sheesh. The photo on that page is from Pigpen's early fat period. He looked much better later on - and possibly due to his alcoholism (alcoholics supposedly neglect eating so they can drink more), which eventually killed him at the age of 27 - which makes him a member of the 27 club along with Janis Joplin.

I found the page because I started to Google this funky thing Pigpen sings right in the middle of some versions of Lovelight:
She's got box-back nitties
And great big noble thighs
Working undercover with a boar hog's eye

Lucky they had the lyrics because I would never have figured out what he's singing based on the recordings alone. And not even Jerry Garcia knew what he was on about:
"...I have no idea where he got that thing he used to sing: 'She got box back nitties and great big noble thighs, working undercover with a boar hog's eye.' Don't ask me - I don't know what the fuck that's all about! It's some weird mojo shit or something. But he could always pull that stuff out. He could do that as long as I knew him. When he was on, he was amazing."

Here I thought that the Woodstock version of Lovelight was the longest at 38 minutes, but they did a 42 minute version at the Lanai Theater on 1969-11-15.

Supposedly the first time they did Lovelight was at the O'Keefe Center in Toronto on 1967-08-05 although not everybody on the gig forum agrees. It's a very early one and by far the shortest and tightest version, clocking in at a mere 8:58.

Usually there's a prelude to the "box-back nitties" section as in this version from the April 1970 Winterland concert:
Wait a minute - I wanna tell yah all, just a taste, just a little bit about my rider, how come she make me feel so nice, how come she make me feel so good sometimes. I ain't gonna tell you all, I just tell yah a little bit. How come everything is so good:


You can hear it on that Winterland recording at 3:50 (including prelude).