The Grateful Dead’s Great Big Carbon Footprint
By Ben Marks
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, I loved the music of the Grateful Dead. I guess you could say I was a fan, and to this day I still give the guys a listen.
But this year’s release of “Europe ’72: The Complete Recordings” sort of sickened me. For those who don’t know, the Dead’s spring tour of the continent is considered by many to have been their finest.
This music was important, if rock ‘n’ roll can ever be described as such, so it was a natural for the surviving band members and their managers to bundle up the entire tour of 22 performances, some 70 hours of music, into a package that fans could purchase. So far, so good.
But why in this digital age was it necessary to create so much packaging? Instead of making the remastered files available via download, the powers that be decided it would be a better idea to burn 73 compact discs, publish a book, and stuff the whole thing into a replica of a steamer trunk, which was then shipped in even more paper (cardboard). A total of 7,200 numbered copies of this environmental nightmare sold out in less than a week at $450 a pop (bids at eBay routinely range from $600 to $900)….