Long live the Grateful Dead

I just read a wonderful New Yorker article on the Grateful Dead, which made me immediately rustle up some of their clips on YouTube. This clip is from the Grateful Dead movie directed by Jerry Garcia which shows them performing in San Francisco in 1974.

The vast Internet Archive has recordings of the band too, but I wanted to see Jerry Garcia live.  He was almost as iconic as Bob Dylan, John Lennon and all the other greats of his time.

Some may consider that an overstatement. After all, the Dead had only one top hit – Touch of Grey – which peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987, according to Wikipedia.

That was long after they started out in 1965. But until they broke up in 1995 when Garcia died, they never ceased to be talked and written about – so powerful was their hold on public imagination and the devotion and loyalty of their fans.

The Dead were not just any other band; they were like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones minus the hits.

They grew on you like Bob Dylan. Not everybody liked, or likes, Dylan. He did not record a string of hit singles like the Beatles and the Stones.  He is an acquired taste, but once you get to like him, there’s no breaking away. The same with the Dead. You become a lifelong fan. The Deadheads, as the fans are called, still carry the torch for Garcia and his band. [Read more...]

Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane

The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane jamming back in 1967. You may or may not like them but clips like these have historical value.

More Dead from 1967. Dancing in the Street. The voiceover commentary is so censorious. This was the original culture war.

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Grateful Dead hailed by world’s oldest Sunday paper

The world's oldest Sunday paper, the Observer, founded in 1791 and relaunched today, pays tribute to the Grateful Dead . Why Bowie and the Grateful Dead are the web's real visionaries, explains John McNaughton. I love the Dead, so here's what he has to say about them:

The Dead pioneered ideas and practices that are only now being reluctantly embraced by corporate America…

The Grateful Dead decided that they wouldn't try to stop people making bootleg recordings of their concerts, figuring that what they lost in royalties would be more than compensated for by being more widely known, and by the resulting sales of merchandise. It turned out that they were right. The band anticipated by decades the "Freemium" business model now being touted by expensive managerial gurus.

Here's more of the band.

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Don’t let the music die on YouTube

Cry, fans of Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, Madonna, cry. They could disappear from YouTube.

Warner Music Group is threatening to pull all its artistes from YouTube after a right royal row over royalties, reports the Guardian.

Oh, that’s the Grateful Dead playing. Aren’t they just great?

YouTube was bought by Google for $1.65 billion in 2006, the same year Warner Music became the first music group to sign a deal with the site.

Now if they fail to renegotiate the deal, all these artistes’ recordings on various Warner Music Group labels could disappear from YouTube:

Grateful Dead, Black Sabbath, Yes, Alice Cooper,The Ramones, The Monkees, Curtis Mayfield and Elvis Costello (Rhino)

Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, John Coltrane, Led Zeppelin, Tracy Chapman, Phil Collins (Atlantic)

Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, The Doors, Linda Ronstadt, and Jackson Browne (Elektra)

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Check out Warner Music Group to see all the artistes it represents.

Let the good times roll

The playwright David Mamet quoted the singer Sam Cooke in a lecture on language and culture broadcast by the BBC World Service yesterday, I wrote last night. Here is the song played by the Grateful Dead.

And do listen to the Alistair Cooke Memorial Lecture given by David Mamet. Click on the link.

Longtime BBC listeners will remember the late Alistair Cooke, who broadcast his famous Letters from America on the BBC.

Poetry and music lovers will especially enjoy Mamet’s lecture, which is an eloquent defence of democracy and the freedom of expression.

Here are the lyrics to the song.

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