Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dire Wolf - Grateful Dead Song Review

Dire Wolf is a cool song from Workingman's Dead that I connected to immediately as a teenager (unlike so many of the great songs that it took me years to appreciate).  Of course, I heard it for the first time when discovering the Dead in the 1990's, but still it is a catchy and accessible tune - even to my 'unexperienced' ears.

The lyrics are the product of Robert Hunter's amazing imagination and take you to a (seemingly) long ago snowy night where the protagonist is visited by an eerie and imposing animal.

The song was played throughout the Dead's career and translated well to acoustic and Jerry would also include it on "acoustic type" shows with John Kahn.  Having the song available for the acoustic JGB means that Jerry was really comfortable with the song and performances of it seem consistently great.

It's definitely a 'classic' and the version on Workingman's Dead has some great pedal steel playing on it (by Jerry).

One interesting memory I have is hearing the tale of Jerry playing this song at Deer Creek on July 2nd 1995 after receiving death threats. That concert was played with the house lights on (for the safety of the band).  The sense of humor involved in singing these lyrics:

Don't murder me
I beg of you dont murder me
Please don't murder me

after getting death threats is pretty legendary.  I believe that version is available on here (an audience recording with some nice crowd reaction):

There's an amazingly long comment thread on that page about the gate crashing incident.  Many commenters have gone out of their way to point out how bad Jerry played at this show.  This may be true, (I havent listened to the entire show) but that means that what I said about Dire Wolf being consistently great is true because it's a pretty flawless version on that recording.

Dire Wolf Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 8.8

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 (and be sure to read my blog manifesto to understand a little more about where I'm coming from).


maulreius said...

While I am postingexport CXXFLAGS="-DQT_THREAD_SUPPORT"
under my Disqus handle (a remnant of my political blogging days) I am @WisSkier and being a lover of the winter months (actually all months, but I do not relegate winter to a second season status.

GDmike said...

Dire Wolf really brings a cool "winter" vibe to mind when I hear it.