By David Gans

My contributions to this year’s WALL OF NEWS will focus on photos and stories from my new book, Improvised Lives: Grateful Dead 1972-1985. Signed copies are available now from

Brent Mydland at home, Fall 1984

I interviewed Brent Mydland at his home in the suburbs east of Berkeley on November 10, 1984, and I took some photos on that date. I don’t have an interview transcript to go with the photos I took at his home on December 16, 1984, so I’m guessing I went out there just to take some pictures.

An excerpt from the November 1984 interview offers his observations on the songwriting styles of Jerry vs. Bobby:

Mydland: When Jerry’s got a new tune, he comes in and just starts playing it, from the top to the end. Then he goes back to the top and plays it to the end. Every once in a while Bob might stop him and say, “What was that?” 

Gans: And he’ll show him? 

Mydland: No, usually he just keeps going [laughs]. He just plays, and you fit in. If you fuck up, you just keep following along. If you don’t get it this time you’ll get it next time. He just plays it, and everybody just kinda falls in and plays with it. He doesn’t say, “Bridge comin’ up!” – it just happens, and, “Oh, that’s where the bridge is! I’ll get it next time.” 

David Gans is one of the best-known media guys in the Grateful Dead world as well as an exceptional interpreter of GD music; he has performed with Phil Lesh, written songs with Robert Hunter, and played with many of the best-known jam band musicians around. He started as a journalist at BAM, the California Music Magazine, and wrote for many music magazines in the ‘70s and ‘80s. In the mid-’80s he helped with the KFOG Deadhead Hour, which became the nationally-syndicated Grateful Dead Hour, still airing from coast to coast. He’s also co-host, with Gary Lambert, of the Sunday-afternoon talk show Tales from the Golden Road on SiriusXM’s Grateful Dead Channel. He’s the author (with Blair Jackson) of This Is All A Dream We Dreamed, An Oral History of the Grateful Dead, and Improvised Lives: Grateful Dead 1972-1985, a book of his photos and stories. He will perform at Skull and Roses.