OK, when you use the phrase, "stand the test of time," you are now required to invoke the Grateful Dead as your prime example. I realize now that those long afternoons having a great time while these guys noodled on their guitars in their tye-dyed underwear had NOTHING to do with them. It was like elevator music for the experience. I guess that's what made them so popular. But I dare you to listen to their albums now with a straight face. Go ahead. I'm waiting. It's just hoopty, isn't it?

Addendum: I will say that I still love American Beauty but I cannot think of another of their albums I'd still listen to without cringing at some point.

The Grateful Dead were one of the most successful American touring acts ever. They performed for 30 years and by the end of their run (which was cut short by the death of guitarist Jerry Garcia in 1995) they were selling out multiple nights at some of the largest football stadiums in America.

But this doesn't scratch the surface of the legacy the Dead leave behind or their history or their music. Where to begin?

The Dead came about in a time when the American popular music scene was dominated by surf bands and crooners, Chuck Berry and the beginnings of Motown. They were one of the primary bands which created the San Francisco Sound along with the Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Big Brother and the Holding Company.

They first made a splash playing as the house band for Ken Kesey's Acid Tests. Soon they were playing across the country and the pacific NW earning themselves a loyal following of "Deadheads," They plumbed the depths of old-timey American music, Garcia the lead guitarist was a banjo picker and veteran of the jug band scene. PigPen was the son of a blues disk jockey and had a voice like gravel and honey mixed together. Phil Lesh the bassist had studied classical music and composition.

The Dead pioneered what is known today a the jamband style of rock and roll. They, like a jazz band, did collectively improvised around a core musical theme. They jammed, they noodle, they stretched tunes to a half hour or more, they smashed one song into another and they often returned to musical themes they had left behind earlier in the show, reprising songs as if from out of nowhere.

The Dead had a problem with their keyboard players. The fist one PigPen died in 1972 of a bad liver for drinking way too much Whiskey. There was a second keyboard player who played in tandem with Pigpen in 1969 named Tom Constantine, when the Dead were hitting their most lush and psychedelic notes (see the albums Live Dead and AOXOMOXOA).

Constantine left the band soon after and perhaps this spared him from the nasty fate other Dead keyboard players befell. So when Pigpen died, the second full time tickler of the ivories was Keith Godchaux. He would play in the band for some 8 or so years before being asked to leave as the band contemplate a change in sound. Soon afterwards he died in a car accident in 1979. The third keyboard player, Brent Mydland, sat in the chair the longest from 79-91, but he too succumbed, dying of a died of a cocaine heroin overdose in 1991.

After that the Dead were joined by two keyboard players for the next year... Bruce Hornsby and Vince Wellnick formerly of the San Francisco band The Tubes. While Hornsby returned to his solo career after about a year and a half on stage with the boys, Wellnick stayed on to the very end... both are still alive today. So three dead and three alive... not bad.

The name Grateful Dead refers to an Irish folk tale about a dead man, who’s bones are not properly buried. He asks a wandering stranger to give him a proper burial, which he man does. The spirit now content rewards the stranger with good fortune - thus the story of the Grateful Dead.

Legend has it that the Dead before they were called the Dead were called the Warlocks. and that one day having heard of another band in New York named the Warlocks (coincidentally the band named the warlocks at that time was Lou Reed's band which would also hear of a west coast Warlocks and changed their name to the Velvet Underground) so they decided to change their name. The band at this time was living communally on Asbury St. in San Francisco, and the story goes that Garcia opened up a dictionary to a random page, points his finger down and --- yep --- it lands on "Grateful Dead."

The Dead are loathed or loved by most people. There doesn't seem to be any middle ground on this issue. They have spawned several bands since their departure most notably:
Phil Lesh and Friends
The Other Ones

other bands have come together to cover their music from various standpoints:

Jazz is Dead
Dark Star Orchestra
Phil and Friends
Ratdog

The Dead's death is viewed by many as a good thing. It seemed to be the big incentive in the rise of the jamband culture - most visibly seen in Phish's success. But there are also lots of others who have admitted to being inspired by the Dead including the String Cheese Incident, moe, Disco Biscuits, MMW, etc....

The dead are also famous for being one of the first, if not the first group to allow audience taping of their live shows for non-commercial use. This says a lot I think and has many implications for the current Napster debate, in the fact that the Dead allowed free distribution of their music, without making a penny and yet become one of the highest-grossing touring acts around.

Personally I'm one of those who loved the Dead. I first saw them in 1989 and over the next 6 years I proceeded to see them about 100 more times. I saw them in Illinois, Wisconsin, California, Oregon, Arizona, New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, and maybe a few different states of mind. I always preferred to see them out doors.

This was perhaps the most entertaining aspect of the Dead...the On the Road nomadic tribe of hippies that followed them around from concert to concert. The market place/carnival atmosphere made not going into a concert nearly as fun as actually seeing the band play music. For a taste of this lifestyle you can go to a Phish show (if they ever play again).

The Deadlot was a true Temporary Autonomous Zone, the law didn't exist and Nothing is True and Everything is permitted. It was a trip. Wish I could explain it better, but it was a long time ago, and you just had to be there to really get it.

Below you will find a list of every Grateful Dead song performed live in concert or recorded on an album that was penned by someone in the band. It lists who wrote the music, the lyrics and how many times it is known to have been played.

Song Title -- Music by -- Lyrics by -- Times Played
__________________________________________________________________________
Alabama Getaway - Garcia - Hunter - 141
Alice D Millionaire - Grateful Dead - Grateful Dead - 3
Alligator - Lesh, Pigpen - Hunter, Pigpen - 63
Althea - Garcia - Hunter - 272
At A Siding - Hart - Hunter - 0
Attics Of My Life - Garcia - Hunter - 48
Barbed Wire Whipping Party - none - Grateful Dead - 0
Believe It Or Not - Garcia - Hunter - 7
Bertha - Garcia - Hunter - 394
Bird Song - Garcia - Hunter - 296
Black Muddy River - Garcia - Hunter - 66
Black Peter - Garcia - Hunter - 343
Black Throated Wind - Weir - Barlow - 158
Blow Away - Mydland - Barlow - 23
Blues For Allah - Garcia - Hunter - 3
Born Cross Eyed - Weir - Weir - 13
Box Of Rain - Lesh - Hunter - 161
Brokedown Palace - Garcia - Hunter - 215
Brown Eyed Women - Garcia - Hunter - 347
Built To Last - Garcia - Hunter - 18
Can't Come Down - Grateful Dead - Grateful Dead - 1
Candyman - Garcia - Hunter - 277
Casey Jones - Garcia - Hunter - 312
Cassidy - Weir - Barlow - 334
Caution - Do Not Stop On The Tracks - Grateful Dead - Grateful Dead - 56
Childhood's End - Lesh - Lesh - 11
China Cat Sunflower - Garcia - Hunter - 554
China Doll - Garcia - Hunter - 114
Chinatown Shuffle - Pigpen - Pigpen - 28
Clementine - Lesh - Hunter - 3
Comes A Time - Garcia - Hunter - 66
Corrina - Weir, Hart - Hunter - 77
Cosmic Charley - Garcia - Hunter - 41
Crazy Fingers - Garcia - Hunter - 144
Cream Puff War - Garcia - Garcia - 7
Cryptical Envelopment - Garcia - Garcia - 132
Cumberland Blues - Garcia, Lesh - Hunter - 223
Dark Star - Grateful Dead - Hunter - 219
Days Between - Garcia - Hunter - 41
Deal - Garcia - Hunter - 423
Dire Wolf - Garcia - Hunter - 226
Doin' That Rag - Garcia - Hunter - 37
Don't Need Love - Mydland - Mydland - 16
Dupree's Diamond Blues - Garcia - Hunter - 80
The Dwarf - Weir - Barlow - 0
Easy Answers - Weir, Hart, Welnick - Hunter, Weir - 44
Easy To Love You - Mydland - Barlow - 45
Easy Wind - Hunter - Hunter - 44
The Eleven - Lesh - Hunter - 93
Empty Pages - Pigpen? - Pigpen? - 2
Equinox - Lesh - Lesh - 0
Estimated Prophet - Weir - Barlow - 390
Eternity - Weir, Wasserman - Dixon - 44
Eyes Of The World - Garcia - Hunter - 381
Far From Me - Mydland - Mydland - 74
Feel Like A Stranger - Weir - Barlow - 207
Fire On The Mountain - Hart - Hunter - 253
Foolish Heart - Garcia - Hunter - 87
France - Weir - Hunter - 0
Franklin's Tower - Garcia, Kreutzman - Hunter - 221
Friend Of The Devil - Garcia, Dawson - Hunter - 304
From The Heart Of Me - Donna Godchaux - Donna Godchaux - 26
Gentlemen, Start Your Engines - Mydland - Barlow - 2
The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion) - Grateful Dead - Grateful Dead - 3
Greatest Story Ever Told - Weir, Hart - Hunter - 280
He's Gone - Garcia - Hunter - 328
Heaven Help The Fool - Weir - Barlow - 17
Hell In A Bucket - Weir, Mydland - Barlow - 216
Help On The Way - Garcia - Hunter - 110
Here Comes Sunshine - Garcia - Hunter - 65
High Time - Garcia - Hunter - 133
I Need A Miracle - Weir - Barlow - 271
I Will Take You Home - Mydland - Barlow - 34
If The Shoe Fits - Lesh - Charles - 17
If I Had The World To Give - Garcia - Hunter - 3
It Must Have Been The Roses - Hunter - Hunter - 159
Jack Straw - Weir - Hunter - 473
Just A Little Light - Mydland - Barlow - 21
Keep Your Day Job - Garcia - Hunter - 57
Lady With A Fan - Garcia - Hunter - 302
Lazy Lightnin' - Weir - Barlow - 111
Lazy River Road - Garcia - Hunter - 65
Let Me Sing Your Blues Away - Keith Godchaux - Hunter - 6
Let It Grow - Weir - Barlow - 276
Liberty - Garcia - Hunter - 56
Little Star - Weir - Weir - 3
Looks Like Rain - Weir - Barlow - 417
Loose Lucy - Garcia - Hunter - 98
Loser - Garcia - Hunter - 345
Lost Sailor - Weir - Barlow - 145
Mason's Children - Garcia, Weir, Lesh - Hunter - 18
Maybe You Know - Mydland - Mydland - 6
Mexicali Blues - Weir - Barlow - 435
Might As Well - Garcia - Hunter - 111
Mindbender - Grateful Dead - Grateful Dead - 2
Mission In The Rain - Garcia - Hunter - 5
Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleloo - Garcia - Hunter - 234
Mister Charlie - Pigpen - Hunter - 48
Money, Money - Weir - Barlow - 3
Mountains Of The Moon - Garcia - Hunter - 12
The Music Never Stopped - Weir - Barlow - 234
My Brother Esau - Weir - Barlow - 104
Never Trust A Woman - Mydland - Mydland - 42
New Potato Caboose - Lesh - Petersen - 26
New Speedway Boogie - Garcia - Hunter - 55
No Left Turn Unstoned (Cardboard Cowboy) - Lesh - Lesh - 2
One More Saturday Night - Weir - Weir - 340
Only A Fool - Mydland - Mydland - 1
The Only Time Is Now - Grateful Dead - Grateful Dead - 1
Operator - Pigpen - Pigpen - 4
The Other One - Weir, Kreutzman - Weir - 583
Otis On A Shakedown Cruise - Grateful Dead - Grateful Dead - 0
Passenger - Lesh - Monk - 98
Picasso Moon - Weir, Bralove - Barlow - 77
Playing In The Band - Weir, Hart - Hunter - 582
Pride Of Cucamonga - Lesh - Petersen - 0
Ramble On Rose - Garcia - Hunter - 316
Red - Lesh - Hunter - 0
Reuben And Cerise - Garcia - Hunter - 4
Revolutionary Hamstrung Blues - Mydland, Lesh - Petersen - 1
Ripple - Garcia - Hunter - 39
Rosemary - Garcia - Hunter - 1
Row Jimmy - Garcia - Hunter - 274
Saint Of Circumstance - Weir - Barlow - 222
Saint Stephen - Garcia, Lesh - Hunter - 165
Salt Lake City - Weir - Barlow - 1
Samba In The Rain - Welnick - Hunter - 38
Scarlet Begonias - Garcia - Hunter - 316
Shakedown Street - Garcia - Hunter - 163
Ship Of Fools - Garcia - Hunter - 225
Slipknot! - Grateful Dead - none - 112
So Many Roads - Garcia - Hunter - 55
Stagger Lee - Garcia - Hunter - 146
Stander On The Mountain - Hornsby - Hornsby - 3
Standing On The Corner - Grateful Dead - Grateful Dead - 3
Standing On The Moon - Garcia - Hunter - 75
Stella Blue - Garcia - Hunter - 328
Sugar Magnolia - Weir - Hunter, Weir - 594
Sugaree - Garcia - Hunter - 357
Sunshine Daydream - Weir - Hunter, Weir - 31
Sunrise - Donna Godchaux - Donna Godchaux - 30
Supplication - Weir - Barlow - 113
Tastebud - Pigpen - Pigpen - 0
Tennessee Jed - Garcia - Hunter - 433
Terrapin Station - Garcia - Hunter - 302
They Love Each Other - Garcia - Hunter - 227
This Time Forever - Weir - Barlow - 1
Throwing Stones - Weir - Barlow - 265
Till The Morning Comes - Garcia - Hunter - 5
To Lay Me Down - Garcia - Hunter - 63
Tons Of Steel - Mydland - Mydland - 29
Touch Of Grey - Garcia - Hunter - 213
Tough Changes - Weir - Hunter - 0
Truckin' - Garcia, Lesh, Weir - Hunter - 519
Two Souls In Communion - Pigpen - Pigpen - 12
US Blues - Garcia - Hunter - 323
Unbroken Chain - Lesh - Petersen - 10
Uncle John's Band - Garcia - Hunter - 332
The Valley Road - Hornsby - Hornsby - 6
Victim Or The Crime - Weir - Graham - 96
Walk In The Sunshine - Weir - Barlow - 0
Wave That Flag - Garcia - Hunter - 15
Wave To The Wind - Lesh - Hunter - 21
Way To Go Home - Welnick, Bralove - Hunter - 92
We Can Run - Mydland - Barlow - 22
Weather Report Suite Prelude - Weir - none - 52
Weather Report Suite Part 1 - Weir - Weir, Andersen - 47
West L.A. Fadeaway - Garcia - Hunter - 140
Wharf Rat - Garcia - Hunter - 394
What'll You Raise - Hunter - Hunter - 0
What's Become Of The Baby - Garcia - Hunter - 0
The Wheel - Garcia - Hunter - 258
When Push Comes To Shove - Garcia - Hunter - 58
You Don't Have To Ask - Grateful Dead - Grateful Dead - 5
You See A Broken Heart - Grateful Dead - Grateful Dead - 1

When it came to encouraging the public to fork out for the products of their labours in the recording studio, The Grateful Dead were never the most marketing-savvy group of musicians. Peer an inch below the surface of any interview with counter-culture cowboy Bob Weir, or hyper-intellectual Phil Lesh, or any other of Jerry Garcia's grizzled and endearingly shambolic troop of misfit minstrels, and you'll be confronted with an unmistakable sub-text: "Our studio albums stink".

Perhaps because of its source being the members of the Dead themselves, this view has taken on an air of orthodoxy. But like all orthodoxies, it shouldn't be accepted unquestioningly, especially since it is in many places directly challenged by the evidence. Listen, for instance, to the sparse, poignant arrangements on 1973's Wake of the Flood, or the almost medieval grandeur of the second half of '77's Terrapin Station. Listen too to the unrivalled hippy outlaw music of '70's double-whammy of Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. You'll soon be convinced that the accepted view cries out for reappraisal.

Certainly, what the band brought to their live shows was different from what appeared on vinyl. It couldn't fail to be: as the old saying goes "There is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert". Dead shows were unparalleled experiments in band/audience symbiosis, occasions for the manifestation of a joyous Dionysian power that swept through, and united, band members and crowd alike. Such talk may sound like so much stoned, cosmic hyperbole, but the Dead in concert really had to be seen to be believed. It is not for nothing that, having experienced a Grateful Dead concert for himself, the veteran American mythologist Joseph Campbell proclaimed the band "the inheritors of the Eleusinian mysteries".

It would be unreasonable to expect that sort of magic to take place in the sterile, audience-free confines of the recording studio. But it is a mistake to think that its absence from the band's studio corpus makes that work bad. To be sure, some of it is bad - Shakedown Street (1978) and Go to Heaven (1981), to name but two, have few redeeming moments, and even fewer admirers. But then there were concerts that were bad too, shows in which the musical kindling steadfastly refused to blaze, no matter how much heat was applied by the audience. It could be argued that the Dead's unpredictability - the tantalisingly real chance that this time they might not succeed in pulling the rabbit out of the hat - was at least part of what made them so exciting and mesmerising, both in concert and on record.

...Or, "How Hamster Bong Discovered She Did Indeed Like Alcohol".

Aside form being one of the most amazing touring bands of all time, it's also a delicious cocktail and since I linked to it as such...here it is:

There are a number of variations on this drink, but they all revolve around the fact that it is basically a Long Island Iced Tea, substituting Chambord liquer for one of the main hard liquors, usually either the gin or the tequila. It can also be served as a shot by omitting the sour mix and soda.

GRATEFUL DEAD COCKTAIL

Ingredients:

-one oz. of 4 of the following. (I suppose if you really wanted to live on the edge you ostensibly could use all five)

-one oz. Chambord liquer
-three oz. sour mix
-splash sprite, slice, 7-up or other "un-cola"
-ice

Directions:

Mix all liquors, Chambord and sour mix in a metal tumbler. Add ice and shake vigorously. Pour into highball glass and top off with splash of soda. Garnish with a lemon. Crank up The Dead and hide the car keys!

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