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.

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