Monday, April 1, 2013

I Fought the Law - Grateful Dead Song Review

My bias for 1990's Dead and also my favoritism toward Jerry is probably going to really come out on this post because I actually like I Fought the Law.

IFTL (tape abbreviation) was universally derided as a disappointing encore. I remember people immediately streaming to the exit in disgust when it began.  Many songs that came about in the 1990s that are in retrospect pretty terrible (Wave to the Wind, Childhood's End), were at least unique enough at the time for Deadheads to reserve judgement, but not I Fought the Law.

What can I say, I found it enjoyable and still do. There is a youtube of it at the bottom of this post (no video but an audio version).  I think it's sounds like a pretty fair representation of I Fought the Law.  I like the way Jerry sings this part in a high register:

I left my baby and it feels so bad 
Guess my race is run 
She's the best girl that I ever had 
I fought the law and the law won

This song was very short at least.  Also, it was exclusively played as an encore, so at least it didn't mar the momentum of a great set with its inclusion.  The song came about in March 1993, just a couple of months before my first show and was played somewhat frequently (35+ times until August 1995)... so this is definitely "my era" of seeing the Dead, and I saw it several times (maybe my fond concert memories are making me remember this song too kindly).

A Warning to Deadheads?
A theory that I heard bandied about the parking lot scene was that the song was intended to be a warning to Deadheads about police crackdown and undercover police.  That seems to be a stretch but heaven knows there were some legal atrocities occurring during this period at the hands of "mandatory minimum" laws.

I Fought The Law Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 6.5

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(read my blog manifesto to understand my Grateful Dead background a little more).

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