Grateful Dead – Visions of Johanna (Live in 1986 and 1995)
I was reading this article at Salon today called “The tour from hell”. It’s about the last Grateful Dead tour, and it’s made up of quotes from a new oral biography of the Grateful Dead. One of the quotes that popped out at me was this one from Phil Lesh, the band’s legendary bass player:
[Dylan’s] “Visions of Johanna” is such a great song, and [Jerry] had such an identity with it. It’s a mystery to me why we didn’t start playing it earlier. Even without the teleprompter, he could usually remember most of it. And his guitar playing is just so moving. I just love the song, and I love his rendition of it. It’s him. It’s really him. “The ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face.” Whew, yeah.
So, of course, I immediately went to the Tubes to see if I could find a live version. The Dead played “Visions of Johanna” for a short time in 1986, and then again in 1995 towards the end of the last tour. This version from March of ’86 at Hampton Coliseum was just a few months before Jerry went into a diabetic coma. Jerry is 43 in this one.
Here is another, this one from March 1995 – 9 years later. On the tour before the “tour from hell.” Jerry was 52.