Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter

Source: Downtown Music Gallery.

After a few years of searching for the best versions of my fave Grateful Dead jam songs (“The Other One”, “St. Stephen” and “Dark Star”), I decided to go back to the beginning and listen to every recorded Grateful Dead concert from their beginning in 1965/1966. Practically every night for the past 2 months, I’ve listened to one entire show or part of one show if it was too long to listen to in one sitting. I am currently up to November of 1967 and I find it fascinating to watch/hear certain songs from their first appearance and then evolve over time. I listened to the first recorded version of “The Other One” the other night (October of 1967) and heard Bobby Weir struggling with the lyrics which were probably just written beforehand. I also pulled out my Robert Hunter book of lyrics, “Box of Rain”, Hunter being Jerry Garcia’s longtime collaborator and main lyricist for the Dead. Many of us often sing along to catchy songs we like but often don’t look too closely at what the lyrics are saying. Reading and learning the lyrics to many of these Dead songs, lyrics which we often take for granted, has brought more meaning to what these songs are really about. I realize that some of the lyrics seem silly or not serious but still define the way many of us feel about life, love, pain and fun. The above song comes from the last Grateful Dead studio album. There is something about this song that touches me deeply, a universal stream of loneliness that is at the center of mankind, as we struggle to make our way through these difficult times. Lead guitarist, lead singer and spiritual leader of the Dead, Jerry Garcia, passed away in 1995, after years of struggling with substance abuse problems. This event pretty much ended the original version/vision of the Dead. On practically every album and at every concert Jerry would play at least one song that would bring his sensitive followers to tears, somehow tapping into the universal feeling of sadness or loss or loneliness. “Standing on the Moon” is one of those songs and I still shed a tear when I hear. I can hear & see Jerry standing on the moon, a singular figure watching the planet Earth as spins. A special DMG toast to Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, both of whom have left the planet are probably hanging out together smoking a doobie in the heavens and watching us all go round in the circles of life.