Grateful Dead

Greatest Stories Ever Told

Here’s the plan—each week, I will blog about a different song, focusing, usually, on the lyrics, but also on some other aspects of the song, including its overall impact—a truly subjective thing. Therefore, the best part, I would hope, would not be anything in particular that I might have to say, but rather, the conversation that may happen via the comments over the course of time. With Grateful Dead lyrics, there’s always a new and different take on what they bring up for each listener, it seems.

- David Dodd

  • I wrote a fairly complete annotation about the character of Casey Jones, whose story was told in “The Ballad of Casey Jones,” which was, in turn, performed by the Dead at least a couple of times during acoustic sets in 1970. The bare facts of the historical basis for the legend have been pretty well documented.

  • When the Bush regime invaded Iraq in search of the supposed hidden caches of weapons of mass destruction, I changed the kicker line on the “Annotated Lyrics” website to the line from “Blues for Allah”...

  • Listening to the new Dave’s Picks (#12, November 4, 1977, at Colgate University) on my way home from work today, I listened as the drummers settled into the familiar Bo Diddley beat out of their drum solo...

  • “Bertha.” How is it that it took me 90 weeks to get to “Bertha”? I know..

  • A new book is coming out very soon from Simon & Schuster, who are also my publishers. It’s a collection of the lyrics of Bob Dylan, in a definitive edition complete with variant versions of the words, scholarly essays, and, possibly, some degree of annotation—the working title for several months had been The Complete Annotated Bob Dylan Lyrics.

  • I’m hoping to do something a little bit different this week, given that it’s my 88th post for this blog. 88 is a magic number: the number of keys on a standard piano keyboard.

  • "If that jubilee don’t come….maybe I’ll meet you on the run.” Garcia is one of those collections of songs that seems borderline unbelievable, 44 years later.

  • I am grateful to have received, recently, a somewhat indignant email from a reader of this column, taking me to task for having “overlooked” “Loser.”

  • My friend, Grateful Dead scholar Mary Goodenough, mentioned this week how she was listening to “Althea” a lot lately, and still finding new things in the song. If there’s a song that can be repeatedly applied to many different life circumstances, it’s “Althea.”

  • After a brief foray into the land of cynicism with my post last week, it’s back to my usual hopeful outlook today, albeit via a song that seems to lack hope.I was listening to the new Wake Up to Find Out release on my drive in to work today, when up came “We Can Run.” It’s a beautiful version...

Greatest Stories Ever Told