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. [click to continue…]
Here’s a great song by the Grateful Dead. What’s more, Jerry Garcia actually smiles here! The music sounds almost like something out of the Caribbean, the song is so bouncy, the rhythm infectious. And the playing is so sweet. The guitars, keyboard, everything sounds sweet. And Brent Mydland’s so funny, pouring his heart and soul into the song and the keyboards. He sings in a voice to wake up the dead. And Bob Weir provides able support. The Dead are at their very best here. The song could go on and on – and still sound great. And here are the lyrics.
I love the Grateful Dead and this is one of my favourite songs. At my age, it resonates all the more, especially because of what’s been happening in my life. I won’t go into that now. Let’s just look at the brighter side of life. "I will get by," sings Jerry Garcia, "I will survive." It’s a great song.
I only wish I could find a video of my other favourite song by the Grateful Dead: Ripple. But no luck there. I couldn’t find a video of Ripple. This is as good as it gets: the Grateful Dead performing Touch of Grey at a concert in 1993. Garcia died in 1995 at the age of 53.