Thursday, February 16, 2006

American Beauty

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Grateful Dead, Box of Rain

Grateful Dead, Friend of Devil

Grateful Dead, Candyman

Grateful Dead, Brokedown Palace

Grateful Dead, Attics of My Life

Okay, I do want to show a little more of the Grateful Dead, show a few other sides of their sound. I believe that their most underrated aspect is/was songwriting, as they have one of the greatest musical books of the past few decades. It's not hard to see why people wouldn't think highly of their songs, since they never really came up with a great album that hit the charts. In fact, lots of their albums sounded like throwaways, done to satisfy the label and work out some more songs for tour.

However, this post should put these criticisms to rest. I am going to focus on the Dead's greatest album and one of the best of the 70s, American Beauty. It's an amazing statement, and sounds nothing like the psychedelic excess that many fear. No, these are beautiful songs, showcasing the Dead's ear for rock, country and folk. Listen to the lyrics, the songs about death ("Box of Rain"), running from the law ("Friend of the Devil"), the beautiful harmonies, the relaxed, Americana sounds. All I can say is that Ryan Adams would give his right nut to put out something this perfect.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the man behind many of the lyrics on this album, Jerry Garcia's writing partner, Robert Hunter. Hunter was a Beat-style poet, but it was his collaboration with Garcia that brought out the best in him. Their lyrics tended more toward the poetic, darker side, less realism than the ones Bob Weir was coming up with. The songs that came up with over the years is an amazing list, some of my favorite songs ever came from their pen, such as "Terrapin Station", "Reuben and Cherise", and "Stella Blue" and on and on. I do not hesitate in saying that this is one of the greatest writing teams ever, on par with Lennon and McCartney. That's right, I said it, let the flaming begin, I can take it.

If you felt overwhelmed by the Fillmore West posts, I highly recommend downloading these songs above. It is a much easier way to get into the music, or at the very least, will expose you to one of the all-time underrated rock albums. Go here to buy the whole thing, which now has lots of extras like live and unreleased versions of the songs.

-This American Beauty radio promo is the funniest thing I have heard in a minute. You have to listen for the announcer's lines, classic 60s shit.

-Speaking of American beauty, have you seen the Scarlett Johanssen nude pictures for Vanity Fair? Yum. This is my girl, for really real, a beautiful actress who has style and looks like MC. Now, where's my Rosario Dawson cover, people? Ooooh, how about a Rosario/Scarlet cover? Yeah, yeah, yeah, get to work.

-disco-not-disco had some songs up to play for your American (or French or Swedish or Israeli or Brazilian or [insert country here]) beauty this past Valentine's Day. I hope that everyone had a nice V-Day and that you got to spend it with your loved one or loved ones.

-Another American Beauty? How about Hardly Art Hardly Garbage after its new look? This has always been one of my favorite blogs, as Sean Fennessy is one of the few writers able to discuss hip hop in an original and intelligent way. Most importantly, he is a fan of the disgracefully underlooked Nelly Furtado.

-Our final American Beauty? Everyone's favorite Vice President and marksman, Dick Cheney. I know that this story has been discussed and dissected beyond comprehension already, but I had to point out my favorite part (buried deep in the story). Cheney shoots a dude from less than 30 yards we can assume now, gets to the guy's side and sees him bleeding profusely. What's his response? He goes back, eats dinner and hangs out with friends and lobbyists. A ride in the ambulance, a visit to the hospital, a loss of appetite and enjoyment? Please, this man eats shits like you for breakfast. He ain't some pussy, crying and shit. No, he's a true American Beauty, a real piece of work. Thanks again, red states.


Jeffrey Siegel said...

Thanks for the Dead at Fillmore postings. aAny chance we canget you topost the rest? Or maybe just use WinRar or something to post them out there for the world? Thanks again!

FreeThinker said...

Well said. If only people would get past their Grateful Dead (mis)perceptions, even more would appreciate the classic Americana that is American Beauty!