Monday, February 20, 2006

Jerry Garcia's Voice

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Grateful Dead, "Comes A Time" (from Hundred Year Hall April 26, 1972 Frankfurt, GR)

Grateful Dead, "Sing Me Back Home"
(August 27, 1972 Veneta County Fairgrounds)

Grateful Dead, "So Many Roads" (July 8, 1995 Soldier Field Chicago, IL)

Grateful Dead, "Stella Blue"
(March 21, 1993 Richboro Coliseum Richboro, OH)

Grateful Dead, "To Lay Me Down" (from Reckoning)

Grateful Dead, Wharf Rat (from Steppin' Out With the Grateful Dead: England '72)

Following up on yesterday's post, one of the defining aspects of the Grateful Dead's music, and possibly the least appreciated, was the ballad. As the years rolled by, and addiction and weariness took their toll on the Jerry's performance, the end-of-the-show ballad never suffered. In fact, in the last years, these songs were oftentimes the highlight of the show, sung with power and conviction by Jerry. It was the one time a show where Garcia seemed confident and in control, on top of the lyrics and music, a rare consistent highlight in those difficult last years of touring.

Do you remember that post I did about Bob Dylan's voice? About how its ugliness and imperfections were what made it so magnificent? Well, I'm about to do it again, as the same things can be said about Garcia. I know that many people listen to his voice, and are turned off immediately. It doesn't have the strength or perfection of the pop voices we have become used to, it cracks, it lacks range. But, so what? These aren't songs intended for the club on Friday night, they aren't songs about pretty people and happy times. They are songs about regret, beggars, death and loneliness. Garcia's fragile voice, withered by age, smoking and drugs, fits perfectly.

These songs are epic and heartbreaking, at times it seems that these songs took on tremendous personal meaning for Jerry. Above are some of the great songs that occupied that song out of "Drums and Space," and I cannot recommend these more highly.

-I would be remiss to not mention one of my favorite blogs on the Internets, Mudd Up! The work of dj/rupture, who I need to return to at some point, I will simply mention the description that Jace added after the title: "dirt, sound, lit, rupture." It's a wonderful site by someone looking into the noise, dirt and ugliness to find beauty, art and music.

-Speaking of ugly, you must check out a new daily column over at TPM Cafe. The Daily Muck is devoted to detailing and examining the corruption and scandal that so deeply infects the modern conservative movement and the Republican Party. Today's post looks at Rep. John Doolittle, Jack Abramoff, Rep. Don Young and enough shady dealings to make you cry yourself to sleep.

-The Man Who Loved Sharks. No, this is not an article on me, but rather a nice look at the work of Peter Benchley, the man who wrote Jaws. He passed away last week, another loss in a terrible year.

1 comment:

Satisfied '75 said...

Excellent post. Love Jer's voice.