Tag Archives: Grateful Dead

Your Go-To Song -The Panoply of Music

11 May

It’s odd how much the consumption of music has changed since I started this blog back in 2009. As a garden variety audiophile, my goal back in the day was to amass the grandest collection of music possible – a collection that would rival the music gods. One August, I used tip money from my job as a camp counselor to buy a vast assortment of CDs from obscure 60s bands, and, when they arrived, I spent days burning these CDs onto my computer, so I could rip the Mp3s and add them to my growing collection. To think the youth of 2020 will not have that joy!

Little did I know, Apple was the god I was trying to emulate, and my quest would be stomped on by this omnipotent Zeus-like musical giant! Now, I diligently pay my monthly subscription to Apple Music, and have access to the Great Library of Alexandria of tunes. But, as they say, I still have the memories (and the Mp3 files stashed away on some external hard-drive). As I was driving around the other day – a necessary escape from the house during this quarantine – I got to thinking about how even now with this vast assortment of music, I have cherry-picked my slowly growing “go-to” songs that encompass my aptly titled “Favorites” list. This curated playlist is an eclectic mix, each song representative of the point in my life when I first heard the song/band. It’s a personal musical journey. And, within this list of personal favorites are several songs that I would label my “go-to” jams – songs that I’ll listen to no matter the mood I am in or company I am among.

I’ll share one of these gems with you.

Find me a better first line of a song than “Red and white, blue suede shoes, I’m Uncle Sam, how do you do?” The song is just a straight mover – it’s as anthemic as you will find with The Dead, and it’s tough not to sing along with its culturally interesting lyric. It’s a masterclass in Dead lore and a tune that just latches onto you and creates a vision of the U.S. that you can’t shake!

What are your go-to songs?

The Giant Flying Turtles Wow With Waltz To The World Album

20 Oct

Rocking the Brooklyn music scene with their eclectic sound comes The Giant Flying Turtles. Their overall sound characterizes itself as tropical, yet beachy vibes within the tunes of their instruments. The themes of their songs range from coasting and feel good music to experimental musings of the mind. Between mixing lyrics about the seasons, the world, and more, The Giant Flying Turtles definitely have a unique sound.  Attracting audiences of a variety of ages, listeners who enjoy listening to carefree and quirky music will be delighted by The Giant Flying Turtles and their waltz to the world.

For more listening: The Giant Flying Turtles

What a Long, Strange Trip it’s Been: Journeying with Jam Bands

29 Sep

Jam bands are special to me.  Any music I listen to, I try to find a live version.  There’s something about knowing a band can recreate their music and actually seeing a band perform that’s so exciting.  My favorite part about Jam Bands is that each and every night they create, for one fleeting moment, music that will never again exist in the same form.

Nothing says jam band like playing over three thousand shows, but never in the same way for the same set list, and the granddaddy of them all never played the same show twice.  Go to The Live Music Archive (a great website for getting free live shows for hundreds of bands) to listen just a few thousand of the Dead shows they offer.  Born from the psychedelic movement in San Fransisco during the 1960’s, the Grateful Dead created flowing jams that fused their psychedelic core with folk, blues, jazz and other American roots music.  Listening to the Dead, while always enjoyable, can be best described by the men themselves, “What a long strange trip its been.”

If you think record sales and radio airplay indicate popularity, you’ve never been to Dave Matthews Band concert.  I just was watching my sister’s Dave videos from the postponed Governor’s Island shows and it was nuts just how crazy the crowds were, not to mention the band was as good as ever.  The diverse instrumentation (electric violin, acoustic and electric guitars, and a horns section) coupled with Dave’s crazy personality and always fascinating lyrics makes this band one of my favorites.

There’s no I in team, but there is an I in Dispatch, which is weird because they’re the ultimate team.  Most songs feature all three members singing, with each one singing lead at different points and all three switching instruments like it’s their job (which it is of course).  In addition to singing harmonies, all three individuals play guitar, bass and some type of percussion.  Their most popular song is “The General,” but all the songs they play live are really good, especially the following entitled Mission.

R.I.P Owsley and Hugh – Bob Dylan…in China? – 1967 Album March Madness UPDATE

14 Mar

Owsley “Bear” Stanley, LSD Pioneer, dies at 76

Owsley Stanley took his last trip Saturday, dying of injuries sustained during a car accident. He was 76. Stanley’s influence on the LSD culture in California during the mid-late 1960’s is often understated. He produced a lot of the drug, yes, but he also inspired musicians and was a successful sound engineer for The Grateful Dead. Stanley, whose nickname was “bear” inspired the band’s dancing bear logo . Lyrics written by The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa reference Stanley and his conflicts with authorities. The Dead’s song “Alice D. Millionaire” is based on an LA Times newspaper headline about Owsley entitled “LSD Millionaire.”


Hugh Martin Jr., composer, dies at 96

Well, it seems the news segment of the Music Court is quite depressing today. Hugh Martin wrote “The Trolley Song” for Judy Garland in the 1944 musical “Meet Me in St. Louis,” but he is most famous for his beautiful creation “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” which, even though it was also written and sung by Garland in the same play, became a staple of Christmas music that still is equally as popular today. Yes, Martin’s composition is still getting air time around 70 years later. The wonder of Christmas nostalgia.

The creation of the song is actually quite interesting and particularly poignant. Originally Martin wrote the lyrics as:

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas, it may be your last. Next year we may all be living in the past.Faithful friends who were dear to us, will be near to us no more.”

But, while the song does has melancholic implications, a wise studio executive told Martin that the lyrics did have to be somewhat more uplifting. So, Martin went back and drew up what we now listen to today (starting in October – it seems) incessantly.

Here is a great version of the classic from Katie Melua:


Bob Dylan Approved to Play in China

Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone Magazine

Bob Dylan will be doing (above picture) in China. Yes, after scheduling dates in China last year only to be turned down, Dylan finally gained permission from China’s Ministry of Culture to perform in Beijing between March 30th and April 12th.

Dylan, who seemingly has played in every country, will be playing in China for the first time.

This, from the Rolling Stone article about the subject:

“The approval notice for Dylan’s appearance in Beijing will require him to stick with a setlist that has been vetted by Chinese officials. No details have been released regarding what Dylan material was deemed appropriate for Chinese audiences, but it is likely that his more politically oriented songs did not make the cut.”

LOL! Yeah, I don’t think “Blowin’ in The Wind” or “The Times They Are A’ Changin” will be played for the Chinese audience, especially now at the outset of recent protests quashed in China. I envision the setlist being quite conservative, focused mainly on blues. But, let’s be real China Ministry of Culture, Americans, who speak Dylan’s native language, cannot even understand what he is saying anymore. Do you really think a Chinese audience will understand?



After a couple of days of voting I have a quick update of the March Madness 1967 album Bracket Competition, where we are pinning the best albums of that year up against eachother.

Currently, the 1 vs. 16 battle is being led by heavily favored Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band 7-0. This can be voted on by following this link:


Other Match-Ups:

#2 seed The Doors leads Days of Future Passed 6-1

#3 seed Are You Experienced is beating Procol Harum 6-1

and…our only potential upset chance thus far (it seems)

#4 seed Magical Mystery Tour is only beating Velvet Underground and Nico by three votes 5-2

The above can be voted on by following this link: https://musiccourt.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/march-1967-madness-continues-2-vs-15-3-vs-14-4-vs-13/

More first round match-ups will be posted up on Wednesday so sit tight and VOTE!


Traveling the Dark Star

24 Jul

“Shall we go, you and I
While we can?
Through the transitive nightfall
of diamonds”

-Robert Hunter from “Dark Star”

Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter claimed that this obscure lyric was the first he ever wrote with San Francisco psychedelic superstars, the Grateful Dead. In my opinion, the “transitive nightfall of diamonds” is the obfuscated world of dreams, both tenebrous and terrifyingly apparent. Today, I entered the dream of Christopher Nolan and experienced his new film, “Inception.” It explored different levels of consciousness in wicked cool dream-like action scenes and it sustained a deep message about loss, memory, and guilt. It was not overly complicated. Heck, it’s as easy as saying, well it’s all dreams.

I am not a movie critic so I will stop with my poor review. But, Nolan’s phantasmagorical film did get me thinking about the anagogic subject of dreams and movies. And, wouldn’t you know it, after a quick online search for some fresh court links I came across some news on a movie about one famous guitarist who entered the unknown close to 15 years ago…well, who knows, maybe he just woke up.

Before the long strange trip began

The long-awaited Jerry Garcia biopic finally has a script and a director. Amir Bar-Lev, director of “The Tillman Story” will take Topper Lilien’s screenplay, which is based on of Robert Greenfield’s book, “Dark Star,” and turn it into a motion picture. The movie will focus on Garcia…before the Dead. Now, the question is…who will play Jerry Garcia?

Link: http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118022032.html?categoryid=13&cs=1&ref=vertfilm

Zach Galifianakis (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)

Jerry Garcia


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