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Grateful Dead Song Meanings

grateful dead song meanings

The Grateful Dead – Ripple (Studio Version)

Day of the Dead [Box]

Day of the Dead [Box]


Recording information: Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA; Echo Mountain, Ashville, NC; Miner Street Recordings, Philadelphia, PA. Creators: Aaron Dessner; Bryce Dessner. The Grateful Dead were not known for their modesty so perhaps it’s fitting that Day of the Dead, the 2016 tribute album assembled by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of the National for the Red Hot Organization, sprawls with abandon. At five and a half hours, the 59-track album – divided into three separate sets, like any good Grateful Dead concert – is longer than any individual Dead show but it’s not necessarily as far-reaching. The Dessners favor very specific traits within the Dead, eschewing folk, boogie, blues, and cowboy songs in favor of ever-expanding experimentalism. Bob Weir may sit in with the National for an album-closing I Know You Rider but he’s essentially been back-benched: his penchant for good-time rock & roll has been erased and he has a mere seven songwriting credits here, and three of those are band compositions (Dark Star being repeated twice). This means Day of the Dead is anchored on Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter songs, all filtered through an out sensibility indebted to Phil Lesh. Some of the contributions break this mold – Charles Bradley lays into a funky Cumberland Blues, Courtney Barnett sneers through New Speedway Boogie – but it’s rare to hear the kind of winding, intertwined guitar interplay that characterized so much prime Dead. It surfaces when Weir sits in with the National and Wilco, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks contribute a rangy, excellent China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider, and J Mascis graces Kurt Vile’s Box of Rain with a gorgeous solo, but these are accents on an album that strips away any of the seedy, crunchy elements of jam band music. What’s left is striking, albeit an idiosyncratic interpretation of the Dead. If very few cuts here are especially rhythmic – an odd thing, considering the Dead had two percussionists – the emphasis on shifting texture

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