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The Golden Road: A Report on San Francisco

Paul Williams, Crawdaddy!, June 1967

SITTING IN THE window. Sixth Avenue, Greenwich Village, flirting with the girls going by, the Grateful Dead very loud on 4X speakers somewhere in the room behind me; 92 degrees, a week short of summer, a week back from the Coast, San Francisco. Now, three thousand miles away, what do those words mean? Was I ever anywhere but here?

The geography of rock. There are a half-dozen LPs sitting by my New York City phonograph, at least two from San Francisco: Moby Grape and Grateful Dead. Rock Scully, a Dead manager, just walked by; the Grateful Dead are at the Cafe Au Go Go, two blocks from here. The Moby Grape are midtown, playing at the Scene.

We speak of a San Francisco Sound because these groups developed there. They may not come from there (Skip Spence is a Canadian, the Steve Miller Blues Band got together in Chicago); they may not even live there (Moby Grape is technically a Marin County group; Country Joe are #l in Berkeley, but half a dozen local bands get better billing in San Francisco). But San Francisco—the Fillmore, the Avalon, the Trips Festivals, the Diggers, Owsley’s acid, Haight Street and Ashbury and Masonic and Golden Gate Park, the Straight Theatre, Herb Caen, the Barb, the communication company—these have been and are and will be the environment and influences that have shaped the music of many of the best bands in America.

More specifically, the several aspects and influences of the San Francisco area have created a community; out of this community has come a feeling, an attitude; and it is this attitude that has imparted a unity to the music coming out of the Bay Area. It is this attitude that is most commonly reflected in the San Francisco Sound.

There is a geography of rock; San Francisco is different from New York musically, different because the music made by the Grateful Dead would be different if they had developed in New York, playing the Night Owl or Action City, trying to get a master sold, living on East 7th Street and maybe dealing meth for rent money, padlocking their front door and freezing in the winter and worrying about the air and not having children till they can afford the suburbs, reading the New York Times and having maybe two dozen friends that they see once every two months or so, never considering that they might find a manager who wasn’t just an adversary, never thinking that there was much more to it than making the charts, never wondering about the empty girls with too much make-up and an unshakable confidence in this best of all possible nothings… probably hating each other after a while and wondering why people shat on them for doing just what everyone else does.

New York is New York, and it’s very good for some things. The energy it generates is second to none; nowhere in the world is there as much activity to dive into every time you turn around. Some people thrive on that. I do, much of the time, and that’s why I stay here; but I don’t think it’s a place to make music. San Francisco is.

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“Would?” was also filmed for the movie… Which one do u prefer?

A. It ain´t like that

B. Would?

“Would?”

Know me broken by my master
Teach thee on child of love hereafter

Into the flood again
Same old trip it was back then
So I made a big mistake
Try to see it once my way

Drifting body it’s sole desertion
Flying not yet quite the notion

Into the flood again
Same old trip it was back then
So I made a big mistake
Try to see it once my way

Into the flood again
Same old trip it was back then
So I made a big mistake
Try to see it once my way


Am I wrong?
Have I run too far to get home?
Have I gone?

And left you here alone?
If I would, could you?