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.

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