Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dear Mr. Fantasy - Grateful Dead Song Review

Oh man, what a great tune this is.  I feel like Dear Mr. Fantasy should be up there in the annals of rock next to the widely considered "uber classics" like Satisfaction, Stairway to Heaven, and others.  This chord progression should be in every beginner guitarist's repertoire - perhaps replacing Smoke on the Water.  I like Dear Mr. Fantasy more than all of those tunes. I love the original Traffic version, I have a bootleg of Jimi Hendrix playing it (not that great) and I even have a version of Blind Melon doing this song....

but no one sings it like Brent.  This is my favorite Brent song, and it's not even written by him.  When the Dead slide into this tune in the second set, the show is almost always smoking, and it's going to continue to smoke for a while longer.  The vocals are so perfect for Brent's range and he always does a great amount of excellent showboating. As a bonus, Jerry sings with him the second time around the verse and chorus.  I've seen video footage of them playing this song and they seem to be having a ball.

Dear Mr. Fantasy has this kind of resigned "rolling stoned" rock and roll vibe to it that reminds me of Touch of Grey. It is a sense of saying "screw it" and accepting the role of a rock and roll entertainer. It's like saying "this isn't a good life -but it's our life, so let's celebrate it."  I'm not so much referring to the lyrics alone, but also just the spirit of the song.

Of course, a Dear Mr. Fantasy that interpolates Hey Jude into is like getting a cherry on top.  The first version that I became familiar with (like many no doubt) was the one on Without a Net.  It appears as an "encore" on that recording (or at least the last song) but it was never played as an Encore. The song was played pretty steadily from 1985 through Brent's death.

Dear. Mr. Fantasy is universally loved by Deadheads.  I certainly would've loved to hear Jerry belt it,  but I am glad they put it to rest when Brent died.  That seems fitting.

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

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