Monday, March 16, 2009

Childhood's End - Grateful Dead Song Review

This is a rare Phil song, so I had to refer to to refresh my memory. It was only played about eleven times - almost exclusively in 1994 and almost exclusively in the 1st set.

I like the version of this on "Phil and Friend's" acoustic show in Berkeley in 1994 (NOT the post Jerry band Phil and Friends but the 1994 Dead lineup - without drummers).

I kind of associate this song with Wave to the Wind and If the Shoe Fits as songs that were new and popping up at Dead shows during the era that I was seeing them (ie '93-'95). These songs were not very well received and I remember not really seeking them out on tapes very much so I really barely know them.

Childhood's End is not a bad song, it is just a soft rock Phil song that never gained much traction in the boys' repertoire.

The song is pretty harmonically ambitious with lots of jazzy chords and not a very predictable progression. For some reason the verses reminds me somewhat of Unbroken Chain and the vocal melody definitely has some similarities to Mr. Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan.

I've listened to a couple of versions today and the song being not a typical rock song with evolving lyrics makes the recordings sounds honestly like the band didn't practice it a whole lot and were still "learning it on stage" (without a net so to speak).

Childhood's End has pretty nice lyrics that apparently Phil wrote including the memorable refrain that the band would join in on:

River run deep
River run slow

and this refrain changes over the course of the song:

River run cold
River run clear

and so on. The entry for this song on the Annotated Grateful Dead lyrics doesn't have the lyrics but they are definitely out there on the internet and they are really cool lyrics. Kind of wistful, nostalgic, with lots of references to nature and some of the good ol' Grateful Dead mysical content like:

Reach behind the wind
Search beyond the stars
We're the life on Mars

So Childhood's End isn't going to pop up on any "best of" Grateful Dead compilations but is still interesting for those of us who love the Dead and just want to hear rare songs like this one.

Childhood's End Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 6.5

Disclaimer: This is part of my review of every Grateful Dead song from A-Z. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion (and be sure to read my blog manifesto to understand a little more about where I'm coming from).

No comments: