Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hell in a Bucket - Grateful Dead Song Review

Everything works about this song, Hell in a Bucket is Grateful Dead magic.

This song came out in the mid 80's when a lot of bands from the Grateful Dead era were putting out some real garbage  (hello Starship "We Built This City" and Neil Young "rockabilly and electronica experimentation"). In fact, the entire music world was generally putting out crappy music during the greedy Reagan era. Hell in a Bucket might have never been a radio worthy track but who cares? It rocked the opening to many shows.

I like that Brent is credited for the music (along with Bobby of course), and the enigmatic John Perry Barlow penned the words.  Some of the lines seem "groan worthy," but as a whole it really works.

The spirit of this line:

There may come a day I will dance on your grave
If unable to dance I will crawl

reminds me of the rebellious and humorous spirit embodied in songs like Saint of Circumstance and Touch of Grey (which is the opening track that precedes Hell in a Bucket on In the Dark).

Hell in a Bucket is very consistent and a great opener.  Jerry would usually play incredibly great (and fast) on Hell in a Bucket, and then as soon as it's over -  it's Jerry's turn to pick a song so Bucket sets up a strong 1st set by priming Jerry for an energetic and well played 2nd song.

There's some great tunes that comprise the group of songs the Grateful Dead regularly opened with: Jack Straw, Mississippi Half Step, Touch of Grey, etc.  In my opinion Hell in a Bucket holds it's own with these.

I've included a live performance video below from a show that I was actually at - Las Vegas, Sunday June 26th, 1994. This video brings back great memories from that night.  I believe this is the exact a feed from the video screens the Dead used on that tour - and some very creative intermingling of footage can be seen.

There's an "MTV" style music video for this song, do yourself a favor and DO NOT seek it out.  You will be disappointed.

Hell in a Bucket Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 9.3

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Greatest Story Ever Told - Grateful Dead Song Review

Moses came ridin'  up on a quasar

How I Learned About Greatest Story
Greatest Story Ever Told is a "first set" rocker that smokes.  This Bobby song was introduced way back in 1971 and played all the way through 1995. But for some reason I associate this song with hot 1980s shows (with Brent) that I would listen to on low quality cassette tapes that I would get from friends, so I always hear this song as low quality and "treble-y" when I hear it in my mind's eye (ear).

This song would always appear in the 1st set (sometimes the opener) and be  smokin'. It has a revved up beginning that is a "Chuck Berry" style riff (chords that are played by Phil!) and then just tears into its faced paced verses. The band punches through accents while Bobby spits the lyrics out and Jerry wails with his dynamic filter sound.

Greatest Story Ever Told appeared on Bobby's first solo album Ace, which was really a Grateful Dead record because the entire band was involved in providing the music that backed up Bobby's vocals.  That album by the way is a "must have" with 7 of the 8 songs becoming Grateful Dead concert favorites (including Cassidy and One More Saturday Night).

Some Crazy Lyrics in Greatest Story

There's not too many Bob Weir songs that feature lyrics written by Robert Hunter.  I must say, this song highlights the difference between the way that Bobby would use lyrics versus the way Jerry would.

For instance, some lines in Greatest Story really ring out and remind me of the cleverness of Robert Hunter lyrics that are in Jerry tunes:

I asked him for mercy, he gave me a gun


I asked him for water, he poured me some wine

But other lines sound like nothing of Hunter that Jerry ever sang:

Moses come riding up on a quasar 
His spurs was a-jingling, the door was ajar


Abraham and Isaac digging on a well
Mama come quick with the water witch spell

Lines like these  remind me of Bobby's habit of employing "nonsensical" lyrics that make the meanings to his songs hard to discern (for example, Estimated Prophet).  Also, as with the line "water witch spell," Bobby often uses consonance in his lyrics that make them very difficult to sing (like "quick beats in an icy heart, catch colt draws a coffin cart" from Cassidy).

So, although I can't figure out heads or tails of what the song Greatest Story Ever Told is about, I still think it's a good rock song that would get the crowd going.  I enjoyed it the one time I got to see it (at Shoreline). This is a nice and short upbeat song that I always listen in its entirety when it comes up on show recordings I am listening to.

Greatest Story Ever Told Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 8.2

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Good Lovin'- Grateful Dead Song Review

This song was ever present in the 2nd set throughout the vast majority of the Grateful Dead's live tours.

I've always considered it a "feel good" Bobby 2nd set closer like Lovelight and Around and Around. I like it as an "uplifting closer" more than those 2 songs (but less than Sugar Magnolia or Not Fade Away which are also popular closers).

I did not know until I just visited that it was originally performed in the 60's and sung by Pigpen (with a few versions sung by Jerry). Good Lovin' was also shelved from 1970-1976 (when they dusted it off and put Bobby on lead vocals).

The song was originally penned by Rudy Clark and Arthur Resnick and performed by The Young Rascals.  This is the version that most people are familiar with (and also the one that is played in a hilarious fishing scene of the movie Joe Versus the Volcano).  A Grateful Dead studio version was released on Shakedown Street in 1978.

Bobby Going Falsetto

Good Lovin' has an almost '50's rock vibe to it and so it was inevitable that Bobby would use it as an opportunity to go falsetto and do some of his "barbershop quartet" style high pitched singing.  A lot of Deadheads refer to this as "Bobby cheesing out."

Bobby would also use the song as a platform to "hold court" and give an "inspirational rap" somewhat like a gospel preacher during the song, saying things like "you know that you need it and you know that I need it too, c'mon everybody and give each other some good lovin!" Pretty amusing stuff.

A few times in 1987, the band would interpolate La Bamba into Good Lovin' - with Jerry singing La Bamba.  This is a formula for an especially great Good Lovin', and I've embedded a youtube into the blog post at the bottom where you can hear and see the band play it (thanks to LoloYodel for posting that footage).

Good Lovin'  Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 8.7

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad - Grateful Dead Song Review

This song is also known as "GDTRFB" (as it was abbreviated on tapes) and is always a treat to hear.

Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad is a really uptempo boogie blues number that usually appeared late in the show (after Space). It  is not  an original GD tune and I can only find the credit for the words/lyrics to "traditional" so it must be a really old song. On it states that Jerry learned the song during the cross Canada train tour that was chronicled in the movie Festival Express.

The band played the song from 1970 up through 1995.  During the period that I was seeing shows (1993-1995) this would be considered a somewhat rare treat -  they didn't play it very often.  I got to see it one time (on Saturday night, June 26th, 1994 in las Vegas).

Jerry would sing the verses by himself and the band would join in for the chorus.  In my experience this song is always really consistently delivered, perhaps owing to its simplicity and position in the show (when the band is very warm). Jerry's solos are usually very tightly delivered and sometimes resemble the "flatpicking" guitar style.

The song definitely has that "rock band on the road" sensibility and they make me imagine the years of hard touring and cheap hotels that they had to endure. Lines like this:

Going where the water tastes like wine
I don't wanna be treated this old way

remind me of that sly mischievous Jerry Garcia recurring  theme of having "one foot out the door" because he is "getting no respect" (a la Rodney Dangerfield). Other songs that have this kind of theme are Shady Grove and Cold Rain and Snow.  Of course none of these songs are GD originals so it's obviously a recurring theme in Americana music.

The end of GDTRFB always cuts to a half time instrumental version of the We Bid You Goodnight melody (at least in the late 80s and 90s versions that I am familiar with). That's a really nice little tag-on to finish the song.

Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 8.5

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Golden Road - Grateful Dead Song Review

Ahh, the "Golden Road," the full title is: The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion).

Everytime I hear this jumbled ball of energy, I am transported to pushing "play" on my Skeletons in the Closet cassette the first time (my first Grateful Dead album). It's the first song on side A and it just sounds like the Summer of Love come to life.  This song was also the first song off of the debut album for The Grateful Dead (called simply, The Grateful Dead) released in 1967.

This song is only 2:13 long and extremely catchy. There's a lot of overdubbed sounds on the track, many of which I can't identify.  During the chorus you can really hear Phil singing backup clearly and there is a lot of the band "singing over each other" during the song which is why I describe it as "jumbled" (in the best possible way).  This amount of vocal shouting kind of leads me to consider this song as a "chant" of sorts... and the title (the part in parentheses) also lends itself to this perception.  The lyrics as quoted on for the chorus seem lacking: 

Hey hey, come right away
Come and join the party
Every day

I can't even hear these specific lines being sung in particular but I can hear a lot of other shouting and chanting going on. 

The First Shot Fired in the Grateful Dead Revolution 

I think of this song as "the first shot fired" in the Grateful Dead revolution. It's literally about the culture of San Francisco in the 60s that the band would embody and carry forth for decades.  The music and lyrics are credited to The Grateful Dead (as a whole, instead of individuals) and that's perfect.  

This line seems especially prophetic: 

Nobodys finished we ain't even begun...

How true was that statement? Wow.  Also, this one became kind of iconic for The Grateful Dead: 

Everybody's dancing in a ring around the sun

I remember often seeing a very particular sticker with this quote, I will try to dig up a picture and post here.

I always thought this song deserved more reverence in the Grateful Dead echelon of music, but I suppose that it wasn't really a live concert standby through the 70s/80s/90s.  

It's definitely 2:13 of pure bliss and a great way for me to have been introduced to The Grateful Dead - more than just a rock band.

The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion) Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 9.3

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gloria - Grateful Dead Song Review

In the song review before this one ("Gimme Some Lovin'"), I said that song was part of the GD's habit of mixing in fun "party rock" songs into their set to make sure they put on a remarkable "rock n roll" show (and probably had a lot of fun themselves).  Gloria falls into this category as well.

It's a great rock song written by Van Morrison, universally known and enjoyed.  If you were at a Grateful Dead show when they busted out this tune, you know you were having a good time.  I would also add that if it was your first time seeing The Dead and you didn't really know the canon of songs that they played throughout the concert, you would definitely be "on the bus" when they played Gloria (I said the same thing about Gimme Some Lovin').

I admit that when I watch the videos on youtube of the band playing Gloria, it sounds a bit loose and messy. I have no doubt that the song took whatever show to another level though just by it's sheer accessibility.

(...really wish that Jerry would have sung this one though)

Gloria Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 8.4

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gimme Some Lovin' - Grateful Dead Song Review

Gimme Some Lovin' is a relic from an era of The Dead that I narrowly but regretfully missed.

Throughout The Grateful Dead's career they mixed in fun "party rock" songs into their set to make sure they put on a remarkable "rock n roll" show (and probably had a lot of fun themselves).  These songs provided a counterpoint to more "serious" and "though provoking" songs like China Doll, Let it Grow, Space etc.

Gimme Some Lovin' is a Spencer Davis Group song written by Steve Winwood, Spencer Davis, and Muff Winwood.

It is a mid tempo rock song that Brent and Phil sang together. If you never noticed that Phil was singing too, you are not alone (I kind of forgot myself until I queued up the below video to get psyched to write this).  Brent really owns this song vocally and of course his screaming organ is heavily featured in it.

This song seemed to come up in the 2nd set and alleviate any tension built up by songs like Terrapin, Space, etc. I love hearing it when it comes up on tapes and can't even imagine how great it would've been to have seen it live (like at the Alpine show which there is a video for below - thanks thepitts3463 for posting). You can see in the video how much fun the band is having while playing this song.

If you'd never heard of The Grateful Dead and found yourself at a show in the mid to late 1980s because someone drug you there (most of us ended up at our first Dead show this way), you might struggle to enjoy some of the music without having heard it and developed a connection to it.  But if they played Gimme Some Lovin', then most likely you would be on the bus instantly from that point on.

Gimme Some Lovin' Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 8.5

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Franklin's Tower - Grateful Dead Song Review

...if you get confused listen to the music play!

It's kind of weird to review this song prior to reviewing Help on the Way and SlipknotFranklin's Tower was the final piece of the "Help/Slip/Frank" medley that kicked off many great shows. The proper context for this super upbeat jam is after a dizzying solo by Garcia during Slipknot. After a good 10+ minutes of minor key tension (starting off with the edgy Help on the Way), nothing sounds quite as nice as the beginning of Franklin's Tower.

Franklin's Tower is a great tune that features Jerry singing and soloing a ton.  I think its simplicity made it a really consistently delivered song (especially after warming up through the complex gauntlet of Help/Slip).  I never got to see this song (although I really wanted to hear it at every show I went to and told everyone so). I can only imagine what a party it must have felt like dancing to Franklin's Tower. I am sure that this song really got the crowd going whenever it was played.

Robert Hunter Gets Historical?

The lyrics seem lighthearted but have some of those deep lessons that you got occasionally from Robert via Jerry.

Some come to laugh their past away
Some come to make it just one more day
Whichever way your pleasure tends
if you plant ice you're gonna harvest wind

I actually thought this song's lyrics had something to do with colonial America and maybe even that Franklin referred to Ben Franklin, but upon closer review of the Annotated Grateful Dead lyrics site, it appears I was way off.

One poignant memory I have is the issue of Rolling Stone that came out after Jerry died, Levi's took out a full page ad that simply read: May the four winds blow you safely home.  This one meant a lot to me (pictured, right).

Cool Franklin's Tower Trivia

In Blair Jackson's book Garcia: An American Life, he shares with us a cool revelation that one source for inspiration for the chords in Franklin's Tower was the  Lou Reed song Take a Walk on the Wild Side.  Specifically, the part where the female background singers sing: "Doo doo doo doo doo... " If you sing this part over Franklin's Tower it fits perfectly.

Franklin's With no Help/Slip?

Just like Fire on the Mountain without Scarlet, I have heard versions of Franklin's Tower without Help/Slip and I must say I am not a fan of hearing it by itself.  It's like skipping dinner to eat dessert.

Franklin's Tower Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 9.1

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Boston Run in September 1993 - Utterly Ridiculous

I haven't been very regular in updating the blog but I assure you that I'm always listening to Grateful Dead, and almost exclusively Grateful Dead from the 1990s.

It's been 17 years since Jerry died and thanks to technology I've been able to download and hear soundboard recordings of tons of shows (although  I wish the band would officially release all the recordings from the 1990s).

I've never been very good about memorizing which shows really stand out and I'm not one of those Deadheads that can tell you what show has "the best performance of Samson ever". One reason for this is because after I hear a great tape, I am immediately trying to forget it so that I can "rediscover" it again in another year or two.

Well in the last week or two, I worked my way through a run of shows from Boston in September 1993 that contain some unbelievable Grateful Dead moments and is probably the best GD run ever (to my unique tastes). Of course, if I could go back to any show in a time machine, it would be the Harmonic Convergence show in 1987, but a close second would be this run back east.

Grateful Dead Played Better on the East Coast?

I have to admit, although I've seen some great shows, I never saw the band firing on all cylinders like this run.  It features huge stretches of flawless and inspired performances by Jerry. Of course, he is just newly playing the "Lightning Bolt" guitar which allowed him to play easily and fluidly compared to the previous Doug Irwin guitars. To those who disparage the "acoustic tone" of Lightning Bolt, I would urge them to listen to Jerry reinvent some old tunes during this run (I write a lot more about Lightning Bolt here).

Again, I have listened to show recordings for the 17 Grateful Dead shows I went to and they just don't compare to the band in Boston during this run (possible exception was the Sunday night Vegas show I saw in 1994).  Shoreline (aka Snoreline) shows in particular pale in comparison.

I have come to the undeniable conclusion that the band played better on the East Coast (specifically New York, Philadelphia, and Boston).

Audio and Video Links and More Discussion about These Shows

I found one youtube video of a complete concert from these shows (the 3rd of 6 shows - Sunday, 9/26/93 thanks Voodoonola!). I'm going to post links to the recordings for all these shows.

Then down below  the video, I am going to maybe weigh in on some specific thoughts and highlights from these shows (I do this way down the page so that the person who may be hearing these for the first time can listen without knowing the setlist and enjoy the surprise of the show).

Some Random Thoughts from This Historic Boston Run
This show is great, but I wasn't listening as closely because I didn't realize it was such a monumental run. Any show with Scarlet/Fire is great and the Days Between was good as well.
This first set is ridiculous.  There is an absolutely incredible Loser and the Cassidy/Deal closer shows Jerry playing at a magical level.   The Foolish Heart is always an ambitious choice and this is a "pretty good" version (very long).  Crazy Fingers and The Wheel are 2 of my favorite songs and make the 2nd set a winner, but overall, the 1st set owns the night.
So it was during this tape that I really started realizing how great this run is.  High Time (first set) and Ship of Fools (2nd set) are rare and awesome to hear especially in the same show.  The Standing on the Moon closer and Rain encore left me speechless.
This is the only show that I didn't have the soundboard of so I listened to the audience recording from  More of the band and Jerry playing great.  A great China/Rider and a personal favorite Attics of My Life highlight this show.  The ending Throwing Stones then Good Lovin' and then US. Blues encore just further highlight how much more special the Dead seemed to treat their East Coast runs.
Sugaree and Dire Wolf highlight the first set, and the surprising/disappointing (choice) Tennessee Jed set closer is redeemed when the band comes out and opens the 2nd set with Eyes of the World. Terrapin is great and the surprising Playin' Reprise is great coming out of Space.
This is my favorite show of this run...  Here Comes Sunshine is incredible and the Candyman and Stagger Lee are played really well although you can hear Jerry's voice is really struggling...I think it was the last show of Fall Tour. If you really want to hear how clear and beautiful Lightning Bolt sounded, listen to the opening notes of Candyman from this show.... that guitar just cut through clear as a bell.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is a personal favorite so as 2nd set opener I think that's great.  Crazy Fingers played for the 2nd time this run and is good (Stagger Lee is also played twice on this run and it's one of my all time favorites with Crazy Fingers so you can imagine how much extra that makes me like this run and this show in particular).  Jerry plays some great guitar at the end of He's Gone (during the "ooooh nothing's gonna bring him back..."), I've never heard him play like that during this part of the song.

Other One>Wharf Rat is not a sequence I like that much but instead of the usual Lovelight after they switch it up and go to Not Fade Away where Jerry plays and sings just incredibly (what happened to the 1st set hoarseness I have no idea).  The show ends on such a high note and then of course what else could end a 6 night run (and tour) better than Brokedown.... perfection.

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Jerry Garcia Band plays Werewolves of London on 10/31/92.

Very special thanks to TitoDead on Youtube for posting this gem.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Friend of the Devil - Grateful Dead Song Review

Got a wife in Chino and one in Cherokee
First one says she got my child, but it don't look like me

This song is extremely well known by Deadheads and even familiar to many non-Deadheads. It was on Skeletons from the Closet and American Beauty (the first two Dead tapes I procured) so I loved this song from day 1 of my Grateful Dead fandom.

The song is really simple and catchy.  It has that kind of reckless spirit to it that glorifies the dark side of humanity (like so many Grateful Dead songs - Touch of Grey, Casey Jones, etc.).  Deadheads seem to love songs about criminals on the run, because frankly many of them are serial breakers of the law.

Robert Hunter delivers another beautiful slice of Americana in this first person tale about a man who is on the run from the law.  We never learn his crime though, but the use of familiar locations (Reno, Chino) are what really make the song great.  I think the genius is that those cities are just so unremarkable - it really helps the song appeal to all of us Deadheads spread around California (and the world).

I did not know until I looked up the credits just now that John Dawson (aka Marmaduke) of the New Riders of the Purple Sage was also credited on the music for Friend of the Devil.

The Slow Live Version of Friend of the Devil

The song was played upbeat for the first few years and then somewhere along the way got slowed WAY down.  I remember reading that Jerry was inspired to do this by some cover version he heard of the song (was it Loggins and Messina? Not sure, I've never heard theirs).

One thing I must admit is that when the slow version comes on tapes, I can't fast forward it quickly enough.  It was great when I saw this song live and was part of the crowd cheering for all the memorable lines, but not so much when I'm listening to show recordings all these years later.  The song is really simple and doesn't leave you much to look forward to.  I think the slow live version must be close to 10 minutes (the original studio version was 3:25).

Friend of the Devil Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 9.2

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ashes and Glass - Grateful Dead Song Review

I'm including the song  Ashes and Glass in my Grateful Dead blog because I love the song and wanted to write  about it.

I think the Ashes and Glass is worthy of being considered a Grateful Dead song. I say this because it's a really great and original song and it sounds like it would have fit in really well in the Grateful Dead catalog.

The song is actually a Ratdog song, written by Bob Weir and Ratdog (additional lyrics by Andre Pessis). It came out in 1999, but I only became familiar with it recently.

The song has several versions on Youtube but they are live versions. I was really moved by the studio version - which you can buy on iTunes here.

Great Lyrics and Great Jamming 

When I first heard this song I had the distinct feeling I was getting to hear a long lost Grateful Dead song.  

You really have to go hear this song to appreciate it. The song features some great "deep" and metaphorical lyrics that remind me of other late Grateful Dead songs like Days Between.  The lyrics have the air of a wizened well traveled guy looking back and sharing what life's lessons have taught him. The song's premise is summed up in the first two lines:

What if all tomorrow brings is ashes and glass
And I can't tell you child, "this too shall pass"

...and then it goes through a lot of kind of "post apocalyptic" imagery and seems to be telling us: enjoy and make the most of the present and don't take life to seriously.

The music has a nice loping "Grateful Dead" shuffle to it.  I'm guessing it's Jeff Chimenti on the keys (plays wonderfully)  but  I couldn't really really venture a guess as to who the other musicians are.  There's some really tasteful dissonant jamming and I love the lead guitar.

Of course, there's a ton of  lyrical and musical nods to Throwing Stones in Ashes and Glass as well.

A Great "Grateful Dead" Song

I hope it doesn't come across as a slight to Bobby or Ratdog that I hold the song in such hight esteem that I consider it "worthy" of being considered a Grateful Dead song.

I am really glad that Bobby gave us another song that keeps the spirit of the Grateful Dead alive.

Ashes and Glass Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 9.3

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Foolish Heart - Grateful Dead Song Review

Foolish Heart is in my top 5 Grateful Dead songs and I think it's the possibly the most underrated song in The Grateful Dead catalog.

Before Reading Further, You Must Listen to this Version:

This song was definitely hit and miss, and most versions are not great.  There's one version in particular from 9-18-1990 that you can hear here that is possibly my favorite live Grateful Dead recording ever.  The jam section in the middle of the song features such tight collective improvisation and the band is so "on" that it is truly a magical moment where "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts."

More about this version: Both Bruce Hornsby and Vince Welnick are playing together with the Dead at this point, and the Grateful Dead is less than a month into their new lineup (after the death of Brent Mydland in March July of 1990 - thanks Ouish).  There is a sense of hope and rebirth in this version of Foolish HeartBut more than anything, Jerry is flawless on this version of the song and the entire band is firing on all cylinders.

Strangely, the "Jam" out of this version of the song is included on the So Many Roads Box Set.  And while the Jam is great... I can't imagine why the song itself is not included as well. 

My original exposure to this version was taping it off of the radio from David Gans's Grateful Dead Hour broadcast. What's amazing is how many years and hundreds of times I played the cassette and then still managed to convert it to CD in the digital age and it sounds louder and more crisp than all of my other .mp3s. This is pretty amazing considering I originally taped it off of the radio (not a recipe for high fidelity). I attribute this to a little GD magic but I'm sure that I converted it to digital with some weird settings that cranked up the audio (I converted it via a stereo system hooked up to a CD burner).

The Last Great Jam Masterpiece

I already called Days Between the "final masterpiece" and it came along several years after Foolish Heart, but I can definitely give Foolish Heart the title of the the final jam masterpiece - because of the built in jam section after Jerry sings "a selfish heart is trouble, but a foolish heart is worse!" The Dead would stretch out on songs all the time but only certain songs had a special section for a jamming build up (The Music Never Stopped, Cassidy, and Playing in the Band to name a few).  I can't think of a song that came along after Foolish Heart with this kind of built in improvisational section.  

As I alluded above, the jam in Foolish Heart was definitely hit and miss.  Most times the band was not really in sync and the very tight punches that end the jam ("duh duh, duh DUH!") required supreme coordination and was frequently butchered.  Still, this is the chance you take when you "step out" on a song and have your lead guitarist staring down at his instrument trying to explore new territory while everyone else has to guess when the climax is coming and react accordingly.  As you can hear in the version I posted at the beginning of this article, the rewards are worth the risk.

Words by Robert Hunter

I can see why this song was pegged for a radio single.  The lyrics are really succinct and "traditional." It is a very tidy little ditty that follows the same kind of ironic theme throughout and there's not a single syllable wasted.  The song functions as a warning that we all probably wish we could've heeded at one time in our life.  I think I've read Jerry quoted as saying something to the effect that he didn't really feel this was advice he truly would give from the heart because he'd rather someone recklessly pursue whims of romance and take chances.

Foolish Heart Video: Foolish Heart was released on the final studio album Built To Last which came out in 1989.  There was an "official" Grateful Dead video for Foolish Heart. I've posted it at the bottom of this article.  The Foolish Heart video is pretty cool for a novelty but you'll probably enjoy watching one of the many live versions more (many are available on youtube).

Foolish Heart Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 9.8

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fire on The Mountain - Grateful Dead Song Review

Fire on the Mountain is one of those "entry level" Grateful Dead tunes that everyone loves.  Of course, as it usually comes on the heels of Scarlet Begonias (as part of the eponymous "Scarlet Fire" abbreviation on tapes back in the day), the band is usually primed and hitting on all cylinders while feeding on the high energy of an enthusiastic crowd by the time Fire on the Mountain hits its stride.

Why do I call it an "entry level" song? Probably because it is so instantly like-able. It's such an infectious chant, and the entire song is built on the same 2 major chords.  It's about as simple as a song can get harmonically, so it's so accessible to the listener no matter what their musical taste or background is.

The song came from a Mickey Hart album originally and the music is credited to Mickey (words by Robert Hunter).  I have always imagined that the song's lyrics were a message from Hunter to Garcia about his life which was consumed by the Grateful Dead machine and a message to Garcia to "slow down." I have absolutely nothing to back up this theory but some lines would make sense if this were the case:

You say it's a livin, we all gotta eat
But you're here alone, there's no one to compete.
If mercy's in busness, I wish it for you
More than just ashes when your dreams come true.


The flame from your stage has now spread to the floor
You gave all you had. why you wanna give more? 
The more that you give, the more it will take
To the thin line beyond which you really can't fake.

Fire Without Scarlet?

One thing I've never liked the idea of is a Fire on the Mountain that is played without Scarlet Begonias prior. that's like skipping dinner to eat dessert, it just doesn't feel right.

Legendary Versions 

I wish I kept better track of the great versions of songs like Fire on the Mountain that I hear.  I think most Fire on the Mountains are probably very good but some are great.  The song is very long though and I think it has the potential to drag a little bit.  Also, the soloing is all Garcia, so if he is really "feeling it," it might push the song from great to legendary.

I admit that when I listen to live show recordings (typically on jogs, occasionally long drives) I usually listen pretty carefully to Scarlet Begonias and the jam into Fire on the Mountain, but then I usually fast forward the rest of Fire on the Mountain. As much as I love it, I've heard hundreds of versions and it's a really long and repetitive song.

I do know 2 versions in particular that I've heard many times that are really great. You are probably familar with them as well:

  • Cornell 5/8/1977 (after "Take a Step Back")  you can hear this show here on  This show is familiar to almost all Deadheads it is often touted as the "best show ever" and if you are skipping  to the 2nd set be sure to start the tape at the legendary "take a step back" speech.

  • Hamilton, Ontario 3/22/90.  The video for this entire 2nd set is below  (thanks to youtube uploader jamman6565 for this upload). This version is from a highly regarded show in Canada that has been brought to my attention so many times that I think it's safe to say it has "legendary" status. This version is the tail end of the Brent era and is very high energy and very special.  This version is also included on the So Many Roads box set.

Fire on the Mountain Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 9.4

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Jerry Wept: A Compilation of Performances from the 1990s

This is what I'm watching this morning... is so great, thanks to Wheatskins for this compilation.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

74 Tracks of a Dylan/Dead Rehearsal

There doesn't appear to be anything new about this recording, but thanks to this article on   that I was tipped off by  and  on Twitter, I am now listening to 74 Tracks of Dylan with the Dead on

The recording is from June 1st 1987 and was recorded at Grateful Dead's rehearsal spot - Club Front in San Rafael.

I've never been too hot on the Dylan and The Dead album and live recordings I've heard, but this is  really great listening.  It's a very relaxed rehearsal session with the band calling out songs, discussing the instrumentation, and finding their way haphazardly through a slice of the Dylan catalog.

The OpenCulture article has some interesting quotes from Dylan's autobiography about his surprise at these sessions because (in his words),

 "the band wanted to rehearse more and different songs than I had been used to doing with Petty [on his recent tour with Tom Petty]. They wanted to run over all the songs, the ones they liked, the seldom seen ones."

Jerry is playing spritely and seems to be very confident on the Dylan repertoire.  There's even some beautiful pedal steel in these recordings.  Occasionally, the band starts really gelling, but this seems to be more of a discovery expedition to see which songs might feel good on the upcoming tour.

I've got to say, there's a lot of Dylan songs in this collection that I have not heard yet (and I'm a pretty big Dylan fan too).

I am Grateful to the twittersphere for tipping me off to this recording.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Grateful Dead to Release Spring 1990 Box Set

You may or may not know that I really love the late era Dead from the 1990's.  (See my "Open Letter for the Release of all 1990s Grateful Dead Audio and Video").

Well, I just heard about a new box set from Spring of 1990... NICE!  It's expensive ($200) but I will purchase it on principal  - to show strong support for the release of this era of Dead music.

I should have all of these shows on file and before I accept delivery of this new release (ships in late August) I will listen to them on my iPod so I can hear them without any "spoilers" from reading the CD liner notes. In fact, I don't even like to spend much time on the page about these shows because I don't want to know what epic songs are included.

Yes, I know I'm kind of weirdo, but I like to listen to the Dead like I am at the concerts  -without any idea of what's coming next. Actually, I don't think I'm alone at all in this preference.

I will follow up and write more about this run of shows after I listen.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Bob Weir's Cool Deal at TRI and Move Me Brightly Jerry Celebration TONIGHT

In a very cool article in Business Week, Bob Weir discusses how he is using TRI studios (Tamalpais Research Institute) to stream live music to Yahoo's users.   The money made on these streaming concerts will be split generously with the musicians (which is rare in the music industry).

Tonight (August 3rd) will feature a concert called "Move Me Brightly" which is a celebration of Jerry Garcia's music.  The show will feature members of Vampire Weekend, Phish, and the Hold Steady (with Luke Wilson as the master of ceremonies - did not know, is he a Dead Head?)

Here is TRI Studios website, where you can see the concerts and learn a lot more.

Nice going Bobby!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Far From Me - Grateful Dead Song Review

"You are so far from me!"

I feel like I should have a disclaimer for all songs that I never got to see the Dead play live (which is most of them - and all Brent songs).  If I had been able to experience this song in the crowd happily dancing during a show maybe I would have great memories that would soften me toward Far From Me.

But to be honest, from listening to tapes, this is another Brent song that just doesn't really do it for me.

Far From Me has a nice shuffle and a really interesting chord progression (keyboardists always come up with great chord progressions).  There's a really unique "middle section" ("it's just too late, and we can't relate at all") which strangely reminds me of similar middle section in Billy Joel's It's My Life.

Far from Me appears on 1980's Go To Heaven and fits right in that album.  That album has some great songs but something about it is a little 'off.' Even the Cover art seems to say "too much cocaine." 

Certainly the 1980's were bizarre time culturally in America and there was a dearth of good music.  The Dead felt the oppressive energy with this lackluster album and wouldn't release another studio album for 7 years after Go To Heaven.

"Words and Music by Brent Mydland"

I've said this about Brent songs before but Far From Me sounds like a "singer songwriter" pop song from the 80s - like something from Michael McDonald or Kenny Loggins. It just doesn't feel like a Grateful Dead song. And of course, there's no other members of the band who get a writing credit on this one.

Didn't Jerry once posthumously talk about Brent's struggles in life by pointing out he had limited life experience (no college, no acid tests, etc)? I've always heard that Brent was insecure.

In the recent Easy to Love You review, I concluded that it was a "cheesy love song" and that's harsh, but I can't say that I don't feel the same way about Far From Me.

Easy to Love You Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 5.0

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Eyes of the World - Grateful Dead Song Review

This not only might be a signature Garcia/Hunter song, it might be the signature Grateful Dead song.

When you hear Eyes start, it's unmistakeable. That jazzy EMaj7 chord cruises along so nicely and the crowd will respond with wild cheers.  The little rhythmic punches throughout are just perfectly placed to make Deadheads dance.

Eyes usually tops out at longer than 10:00, and features non stop soloing by Jerry when he is not singing the verse or the chorus.  My last time seeing the Grateful Dead in Las Vegas 1995, it occurred to me that after all those years Jerry was still pushing and exploring during this song.  No two Eyes are exactly alike, and he didn't seem to have any "go to" soloing phrases that he would end up on, like he did in many other songs.  It was pure exploration and improvisation.

Lyrics by (Who Else?) Robert Hunter

The lyrics by Robert Hunter are very deep while also being vague.  I've never sat down and thought too much about the meaning behind them but they still mean a lot to me. I will also say that as I get older, the words mean different things.  Being the "eyes of the world" means to me that I am not a discrete individual but rather part of this entire greater organism that is all connected together with unseen bonds of energy.

A couple of my favorite lines are:

"the seeds that were silent all burst into bloom, and decay"

this quick encapsulation of the cycle of life reminds me of psychedelic experiences which add perspective to our place in the grand scheme of things.  Also, in later years I love the way Jerry would sing "decay-ay-ay-ay."

sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own

this line just reminds me of the sense of originality and spirit that Deadheads have.  If you've ever felt like you don't fit in anywhere in "normal society," but you've been welcomed into the Grateful Dead culture, then you'll probably like this line too.

As always, some great information can be found at the Annotated Grateful Dead lyrics site for this song, and a lot of connections are made between Eyes of the World and Buddhist philosophy.

Without a Net - The Peak of Eyes of the World?

Eyes of the World peaked (in my opinion) around the time Without a Net was recorded.  In fact, that's the quintessential version in my opinion.  Branford Marsalis brings just the perfect amount of color to that version.  I am sure there are better versions out there, but for me they would probably be from around this time.   Earlier versions (especially in the 1970's) rocked too hard and were played too fast. In the last few years (Vince era), the song was just a little too weak and meandered listlessly. Around 1989 and 1990 they really had the best of the energy and tightness combined with Jerry delivering great solos with the jazzy flavor he developed later in his life.

This song is probably very special and significant to every Deadhead. After Jerry died in 1995, I didn't listen to the Grateful Dead at all for about 10 years. In 2005, Eyes of the World came on my iPod when I was on a 40 hour train ride from Mumbai to Trivandrum in India. Staring out the window at the Indian countryside, I could finally appreciate the music and listen to it without the sense of loss that made the music too painful for so many years.  I was reborn a Deadhead that day and have been listening pretty constantly ever since.

No matter what show you were at (or are listening too), the second you hear the beginning strains of Eyes, the show becomes a much more memorable one. I've never met a Deadhead who didn't like Eyes of the World.

Eyes of the World Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 10.0

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Eternity - Grateful Dead Song Review


Wow, it feels like I just reviewed Easy Answers and that was hard enough.  Now, this.  I wish I could skip Eternity (like I always do on my iPOD). 

As soon as Eternity starts you're just so disappointed - it just starts on a horrible chord.  I don't even feel like figuring out what chord - I don't want to know.  Eternity made it's debut right around the time I started seeing shows (1993) and then was played very frequently thereafter. I definitely got an earful of this song.

Eternity is a total "miss" by Wasserman and Weir.  It's scary that Willie Dixon wrote the lyrics, I don't even know what to think of that.  Just like Neil Young's "involvement" on Easy Answers, I'm guessing Eternity is one that Willie Dixon would just as soon forget.  

I defy anyone to make an argument that Eternity is a good song (I'm all ears).

Eternity's presence really detracts from some great shows in my favorite era of The Dead.  It is one of the list of embarrassing late era Grateful Dead songs like:

- Wave to the Wind
- Samba in the Rain
- If the Shoe Fits
- Childhood's End

I'm going to point out again that at this late stage in the band's career, Jerry was busting out killer new songs and covers, like:
  • Lazy River Road
  • Days Between
  • So Many Roads (thanks for the reminder Sundar)
  • Visions of Johanna 
  • I Just Want to Make Love to YOu
So when you hear someone tell you that the band was running on empty in the 1990s because of Jerry's  health issues, just remember that he was still bringing the wood a lot of the time and having to pick up the energy of a show that was horribly marred by songs like Eternity.

Eternity Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 0.0

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Estimated Prophet - Grateful Dead Song Review

Estimated Prophet is a powerful, lumbering, and truly original Grateful Dead song.

Estimated Prophet has a stuttering gait in 7/4 (or 14/4) and a brooding minor feel (except on the chorus, "California!..").  It is often played in conjunction with Eyes of the World (aka "Estimated Eyes") and that's a powerful combination.

Bobby sings about some crazy conceptual world of a person with delusions of being a prophet.  I seem to remember reading somewhere that Bobby, when discussing Estimated Prophet, made a reference to all the crazies he would meet at the backstage door of concerts (or something to that effect).  That's fitting because I always thought this song's lyrics were impenetrable but interesting.  It seems almost as though Bobby himself is rambling about nonsense. The lyrics are credited to John Barlow, and they are certainly mysterious (at best).  I found a cool discussion on about this song. The music is credited to Bob Weir alone, an impressive composition.

The song was on Terrapin Station and played very steadily from 1977 on through the end of the band in 1995. There is a great version on the famed Cornell 5/8/77 show (can we still really be waiting for an "official release" of this show?).  Jerry would always deliver great solos on this song but  the rest of the band never really stepped out on it.  Perhaps they were hamstrung by the odd meter...

Estimated Prophet Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 8.9

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

El Paso - Grateful Dead Song Review

El Paso is really notable for a couple of different reasons:

1. The Dead played it hundreds of times throughout almost every year from the song's introduction in 1979  right through 1995

2. Jerry basically solos the entire song (when he's not singing backing vocals on  the chorus)  - including right over Bobby's verses too

What's not to love? The song's melody is so infectious that it's an absolute classic (written by Marty Robbins). El Paso was a familiar and upbeat 1st set major key song. No wonder the boys relied on it so heavily.   I've never heard an El Paso where the band "stepped out" while jamming (ie playing outside the main key or adding rhythmic variations).  But, El Paso is an easy crowd pleaser and no doubt helped set the tone for some of the best shows in the Grateful Dead's history.

Here's a great version on youtube from Vegas 1994 (a show that I attended). Bobby is playing an acoustic and there's some great background vocals by Jerry on that video.

El Paso Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 8.7

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Easy Wind - Grateful Dead Song Review

Gotta find a woman be good to me,
won't hide my liquor try to serve me tea

Easy Wind is a hard rocking song that showcased the tough rock and roll side of the Grateful Dead - namely Pigpen.

This is a great track from Workingman's Dead and really epitomizes the album's title.  This bluesy rocker has great singing by Pigpen who creates the imposing impression of an out of control day laborer who's living life on the edge.  This actually reminds me of a lot of Deadheads I can think of  - although not all are still around today.

According to this song has credited words and lyrics to Rober Hunter. I had no idea bout that and I'm surprised to hear it, although the character definitely fits in with Robert Hunter's other interesting slices of Americana.
Easy Wind was played frequently in 1969 and 1970. There are some videos that show the band playing the song live on youtube like this one.

Every Deadhead knows Easy Wind but it's not a tune I hear people bring up that much or try to play on guitar.

A great song on an even greater album.

EasyWInd Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 8.9

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

1993 Was So Great - Incredible Grateful Dead Era

In the last entry, I posted these two videos to represent a great performance by The Grateful Dead in 1993 and how great Jerry played on Lightning Bolt. These videos are so good they bear repeating. Spoiler alert  - I will be wanking on about these below so don't scroll down if you don't want to know the songs played before watching. Also, the soundboard on is here.

Richfield Coliseum on September 9th, 1993 Set 1

Richfield Coliseum on September 9th, 1993 Set 2

~~~Spoiler Alert All the magic is up there, below is my wanking about this show below~~~~

Wow, nice concert.  I would describe this as a magical show. Can't imagine what it would've like to be at this one, and I look forward to my next listen of the next night's show (on my next jog).

How about that Lightning Bolt?

I saw the Shoreline run before this in August where, according to this site, Jerry introduced Lightning Bolt. That was a pretty phenomenal Shoreline run (by Shoreline standards).  Jerry took to the guitar well as this show from Richfield shows.

In this Richfield show, the St of Circumstance 2nd "build up jam"(starts at about 22:30 in the 2nd set video), the extended jam in Terrapin (starts at 30:30 2nd set),  and of course the Morning Dew are just amazing and make this one for the ages.

How about that weird sound during Morning Dew (at around 1:22:00 and 1:23:40 in the 2nd set video)?  WTF is that? It's also on the soundboard for this show.

Finally, I'm always a fan of Victim for the Crime for some reason.... and I might really be revealing a bias for this period (more likely my fond memories) but I even love the I Fought The Law encore.

Thanks to StickyFingers44111 for uploading this incredible footage.

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. 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).

Sunday, July 1, 2012

On Lightning Bolt - Jerry Garcia's Controversial Final Guitar

'Lightning Bolt,' as Jerry's last guitar is referred to, has a bit of a controversial reputation.  Jerry adopted the guitar in 1993 and used it as his primary electric guitar until his death.  It is pictured above as the background to the logo for Mike's Grateful Dead Blog.

On the one hand, the tone sounds like an acoustic guitar, not like the incredibly sophisticated and "electrified" tone of Rosebud or Tiger1.  Lightning Bolt is very clear though and cut through the mix nicely.  

On the other hand, Lightning Bolt was much lighter and easier for Jerry to manage for the 3 hour Dead concerts.

On The one hand, Doug Irwin (main designer of Jerry's guitars for many years prior to Lightning Bolt)  is like a Michaelangelo to most Deadheads - and deservedly so.  For over 20 years the Grateful Dead's amazing concerts were performed with Jerry using a Doug Irwin Guitar -  from The Wolf in 1972 up through Rosebud which was retired in 1993.  Jerry left the guitars to Doug Irwin when he died - it's stated as one of the first things in his will.  The rest of the Grateful Dead (in a total dick move) intervened and prevented this from coming to fruition by claiming the instruments that the Dead used in their live concerts were property of the Grateful Dead entity, not individual performers.

On the other hand, no one really knows anything (or seems to care) about Stephen Cripe, the Florida woodworker hobbyist who crafted Lighning Bolt from watching a Grateful Dead video and mailed it unsolicited to Grateful Dead headquarters.  If you consider the unlikely story that Garcia adopted the guitar and then Stephen Cripe died when the fireworks he was making in his shed blew up (cover story for meth lab?), this story is stranger than fiction and is worthy of Dead folklore.

Lightning Bolt's Facility of Playing

Below are posted 2 sets from Richfield Coliseum on September 9th, 1993.  If you watch these (particularly the 2nd set) you will hear Jerry playing with incredible fluidity. In fact, there are times when he is utterly unconscious in the 2nd set.

While I, too, prefer Rosebud's sound to Lightning Bolt, I would definitely sacrifice some sound quality to allow Jerry the ability to more easily express himself and hit higher heights.

I actually saw the Shoreline run a few weeks before this Richfield show where Jerry introduced Lightning Bolt (according to this site).  That was a pretty phenomenal Shoreline run (by Shoreline standards).  Jerry seemed to take well immediately to Lightning Bolt because in addition to these shows there is a lot of additional great music throughout the rest of 1993.

Lightning  Bolt's 'Acoustic Sound'

Jerry was actively rehearsing and recording incredible acoustic music with David Grisman around the time Lightning Bolt showed up.  Jerry's acoustic chops really got honed during this period.  His strong fingerpicking prowess was on display not only on great albums like Garcia/Grisman and Not for Kids Only, but also in Grateful Dead concerts in the 1990s.

Jerry started adding a lot of additional voices to his guitar arrangements of Grateful Dead songs, and you can really hear his emphasis on fingerpicking in songs like Stagger Lee, Lazy River Road, and Friend of the Devil (the intro guitar riff).  So, it makes sense that he would opt for a clear sound like Lightning Bolt provided to make sure each string would ring out clearly - like an acoustic guitar. 

Behold, Lightning Bolt in a great show from Richfield.  The audio (for soundboard) is here. There will be much more discussion of this show in my next blog entry:

Richfield Coliseum on September 9th, 1993 Set 1

Richfield Coliseum on September 9th, 1993 Set 2

Thanks to "Obie's" Pictoral Guide to Jerry Garcia's Guitars for for invaluable information.
Thanks to StickyFingers44111 for uploading this incredible footage.

1listen to Bird Song on Without a Net for the incredible tone of Rosebud although I think it is actually the guitar called Tiger. 
Disclaimer: This is part of my blog about the world of The Grateful Dead. 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).

Friday, June 29, 2012

Easy to Love You - Grateful Dead Song Review

"Ooh ooh ooh.oooh ooh"

This is a nice little Brent tune that is catchy and frankly highlights how his songs never really "sat well" in the Grateful Dead repertoire (in this writer's opinion).

The song even seems to use Grateful Dead elements. There's a little jam coda (that for some reason  reminds me of Unbroken Chain) and also some weird time signatures (again Unbroken Chain). There's also some bizarre "un rock" chords courtesy of Brent.

But Brent's songs just seem kind of more like Michael McDonald songs or something - just not really Grateful Dead songs to me.  I wasn't around for Brent's time in the band so maybe that has something to do with it. Maybe if I was around to feel the surge of the energy of the crowd when Brent does his vocal showboating at the end I would appreciate it more because of the memories. I definitely do love what Brent brought to the band though - see my writeup for Dear Mr. Fantasy if you have any doubts.

At the end of the day, this song is a cheesy love song.

Easy to Love You Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 6.1

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. 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).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Easy Answers - Grateful Dead Song Review

Boy I've been dreading writing this one.... 

This song's popular "lot" nickname "Cheesy Answers" really says it all.  

How did this song go so wrong? It has Robert Hunter helping on lyrics (not common for a Bobby tune), it has a bouncy upbeat rhythm and nice keyboards.  It sounds a bit like an 80's tune  - like something one of the solo Eagles would've made (but probably never released). And when I say '80's tune' I don't necessarily mean that in a derogatory way as some of the Dead's '80's sounding' tunes were great - like Feel Like a Stranger.

But the song just sucks. Also, it was usually played in the 2nd set, robbing the audience of a much better tune that could've been slotted there. It reminds me of Corrina (which I hate much less), Way to Go Home, Wave to the Wind and a the rest of the other 1990s "new" Dead tunes that fell really short. One thing I'd like to point out is that Jerry was still spinning gold during this  period (Lazy River, Days Between, etc).

I remember reading a review of the 1995 Grateful Dead experience that specifically pointed out the digust of the Deadheads when after 5 minutes of the Gyuto Monks onstage at Shoreline when Bobby pulled this tune out it was a real disappointment (because apparently there was magic in the air that was squandered on this song).  You can hear that entire show here (and a great setlist that show is, I will check it out in full later).

Rob Wasserman is also credited as a composer on this song and it was originally recorded with the help of Neil Young (who helped write it too), on this page I found Wasserman's recollection: 

"I remember thinking that the song must be pretty good when I saw Neil simultaneously washing dinner dishes at the studio sink and dancing non-stop while he listened to the playback."
I hate to rain on Wasserman's parade but I am not so sure I buy this. Why would old Neil be washing dishes if he loved the song so much... I would be curious to know if

a)Neil Young has ever performed  the song
b)if Neil ever worked with Rob (or Bobby) again after recording Easy Answers... if the answer to boh questions is "no" then perhaps Rob Wasserman misread Neil's feelings about Easy Answers.

In my research for this blog entry I did come across the website which I guess crowdsources the best versions of jamband songs and I love this idea.  you can see the entry for Easy Answers here and if you are feeling adventurous you could listen to the versions on to try and find a smokin' version of Easy Answers.  I think I'll pass on this.

Easy Answers Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 0.0
Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. 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).