Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Jerry Garcia Band plays Werewolves of London on 10/31/92.

Very special thanks to TitoDead on Youtube for posting this gem.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Friend of the Devil - Grateful Dead Song Review

Got a wife in Chino and one in Cherokee
First one says she got my child, but it don't look like me

This song is extremely well known by Deadheads and even familiar to many non-Deadheads. It was on Skeletons from the Closet and American Beauty (the first two Dead tapes I procured) so I loved this song from day 1 of my Grateful Dead fandom.

The song is really simple and catchy.  It has that kind of reckless spirit to it that glorifies the dark side of humanity (like so many Grateful Dead songs - Touch of Grey, Casey Jones, etc.).  Deadheads seem to love songs about criminals on the run, because frankly many of them are serial breakers of the law.

Robert Hunter delivers another beautiful slice of Americana in this first person tale about a man who is on the run from the law.  We never learn his crime though, but the use of familiar locations (Reno, Chino) are what really make the song great.  I think the genius is that those cities are just so unremarkable - it really helps the song appeal to all of us Deadheads spread around California (and the world).

I did not know until I looked up the credits just now that John Dawson (aka Marmaduke) of the New Riders of the Purple Sage was also credited on the music for Friend of the Devil.

The Slow Live Version of Friend of the Devil

The song was played upbeat for the first few years and then somewhere along the way got slowed WAY down.  I remember reading that Jerry was inspired to do this by some cover version he heard of the song (was it Loggins and Messina? Not sure, I've never heard theirs).

One thing I must admit is that when the slow version comes on tapes, I can't fast forward it quickly enough.  It was great when I saw this song live and was part of the crowd cheering for all the memorable lines, but not so much when I'm listening to show recordings all these years later.  The song is really simple and doesn't leave you much to look forward to.  I think the slow live version must be close to 10 minutes (the original studio version was 3:25).

Friend of the Devil 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.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ashes and Glass - Grateful Dead Song Review

I'm including the song  Ashes and Glass in my Grateful Dead blog because I love the song and wanted to write  about it.

I think the Ashes and Glass is worthy of being considered a Grateful Dead song. I say this because it's a really great and original song and it sounds like it would have fit in really well in the Grateful Dead catalog.

The song is actually a Ratdog song, written by Bob Weir and Ratdog (additional lyrics by Andre Pessis). It came out in 1999, but I only became familiar with it recently.

The song has several versions on Youtube but they are live versions. I was really moved by the studio version - which you can buy on iTunes here.

Great Lyrics and Great Jamming 

When I first heard this song I had the distinct feeling I was getting to hear a long lost Grateful Dead song.  

You really have to go hear this song to appreciate it. The song features some great "deep" and metaphorical lyrics that remind me of other late Grateful Dead songs like Days Between.  The lyrics have the air of a wizened well traveled guy looking back and sharing what life's lessons have taught him. The song's premise is summed up in the first two lines:

What if all tomorrow brings is ashes and glass
And I can't tell you child, "this too shall pass"

...and then it goes through a lot of kind of "post apocalyptic" imagery and seems to be telling us: enjoy and make the most of the present and don't take life to seriously.

The music has a nice loping "Grateful Dead" shuffle to it.  I'm guessing it's Jeff Chimenti on the keys (plays wonderfully)  but  I couldn't really really venture a guess as to who the other musicians are.  There's some really tasteful dissonant jamming and I love the lead guitar.

Of course, there's a ton of  lyrical and musical nods to Throwing Stones in Ashes and Glass as well.

A Great "Grateful Dead" Song

I hope it doesn't come across as a slight to Bobby or Ratdog that I hold the song in such hight esteem that I consider it "worthy" of being considered a Grateful Dead song.

I am really glad that Bobby gave us another song that keeps the spirit of the Grateful Dead alive.

Ashes and Glass Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 9.3

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.