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

  • Jerry Garcia’s first solo album, Garcia, yielded quite a set of songs for the band’s repertoire over the years. “Deal,” which opens the album, is a perfect example, a perfectly-crafted gem of a song that kicks off a set of songs...

  • “Pride of Cucamonga” is one of the several songs Lesh wrote with lyricist Bobby Petersen, and its road-oriented words fit in with the outlines of Petersen’s life spent out on the edge of an empty highway.

  • It took a LONG time for me to warm up to “Victim or the Crime.” Others characterized it as angular and dissonant, and I just couldn’t latch onto anything about it for somewhere around my first 20 times hearing it.

  • I can’t resist proceeding on to complete the “Help / Slip / Frank” trilogy with this week’s post. “Franklin’s Tower” is the most memorable song from my very first Grateful Dead concert, on October 9, 1976 at the Oakland Coliseum, when the Dead opened for The Who.

  • A couple of summers ago, I was visiting New York City with my family. We were at the wonderful Natural History Museum, taking the elevator to an upper floor, and I noticed a message on the brass plate with all the buttons for floors, etc: “Help is on the way,” it said.

  • Once in a while, I like to spend a blog post considering a worthy cover tune. And what is more appropriate for Valentine’s Day week than “Not Fade Away”?

  • Early on in my career as a Deadhead, I remember getting into a conversation with a fellow Deadhead, my minister, actually, who was upset at the time with the band for not banning the bikers from the scene. Never having really been in “the scene,” I was taking the issue on from a purely idealistic, theoretical perspective, pointing about that the Grateful Dead encompass both light and dark, roses and thorns...

  • “Ship of Fools.” Haven’t we all had some time in our lives when we’ve been disappointed in the direction of our efforts? It may have been some strongly-held belief, or a church, or a cause of some kind, or even a nation that has not lived up to our expectations.

  • Steadfastly obscure both lyrically and musically, “New Potato Caboose” presents the work of Bobby Petersen and Phil Lesh, with lead vocals by Bob Weir. It fits right in with all the songs on Anthem of the Sun, with its intricate harmonies, rapid changes in tempo and meter, and other instrumental weirdness. Perfect Phil Lesh composition.

Greatest Stories Ever Told