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Posts Tagged ‘passion’

  1. The Origins of the Grateful Dead

    September 11, 2014 by Garren Christopher Stamp

    The Grateful Dead have always claimed that the reason for their success is their experimentation with different sounds and mixing different genres of music. Even from the start, the Dead didn’t play into just one genre of music and would attempt to play songs live in a different way then they previously had (they would often change the song dramatically with each different performance). When asked about this time Jerry Garcia, the bands informal leader, said, “It was an experimental sound in an experimental time in front of an experimental audience”. In order to understand how this level of experimentation occurred and was cultivated in society at this time you need to have an understanding of the the Dead’s main venue, The Acid Tests.

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    The Acid Tests were lavish parties thrown by Ken Kesey and his group of “merry pranksters”. These parties were famous for being an area where large groups of people would take LSD-25 (where the Acid in Acid Tests gets its name) and party and listen to music together. During this time LSD wasn’t illegal and Ken Kesey (who was exposed to substances like LSD and DMT during the CIA’s project MKUltra) was a huge proponent of its use for mental and spiritual enlightenment. In fact, he believed in it so much that each ticket into the acid tests came with a free tab of acid. Like i previously mentioned one of the main forms of entertainment at these parties (other than the acid) was the local bands that Kesey would bring in. In the beginning there were several bands who would perform there, but as time passed the band selection became more and more refined until The Grateful Dead was basically the last one standing. However, just because the Grateful Dead was the main band that performed at the Acid Tests doesn’t mean they took their time their time there seriously.

    The Grateful Dead were also big proponents of psychedelic use. In fact Jerry Garcia’s nickname at the time was “Captain Trips”. At these Acid Tests the Grateful Dead would drop acid along with the crowd. Because of this the band was unpredictable at best. Sometimes they would play for only 5 minutes and then just sit down on stage and relax, or other times they would play for 5-8 hours with long solos and blending songs into one another. This period of heavy psychedelic use would influence a lot of things especially the way in which they prepared their music and lyrics especially in their 2nd and 3rd studio albums, Anthem of the sun and Auxomoxoa. I’ll end this post with the lyrics of their most popular song at this time called  “Can’t Come Down”. This song still shows a verse and chorus organization, a style that they would go away from as psychedelic use continued and then come back to as psychedelic use tapered off.  You can see the influence of the acid tests (especially in the bolded lyrics) in the lyrics and can get a feel for the type of music was popular at these parties.

    Well I’m flying down desert streets
    Wrapped in mother’s winding sheets
    Asbestos boots on flaming feet
    Dreaming of forbidden treats
    When uniforms on nighttime beats
    Ask me where I’m going and what I eat
    I answer them with a voice so sweet:

    I can’t come down it’s plain to see
    I can’t come down I’ve been set free.
    Who you are and what you don’t make no difference to me.

    Well someone trying to tell me where it’s at,
    And how I do this and why I do that,
    With secret smiles like a Cheshire cat,
    And leather wings like a vampire bat,
    I fly away to my cold water flat
    And eat my way tthrough a bowl of fat,
    And I say to the man with the funny hat:

    I can’t come down it’s plain to see
    I can’t come down I’ve been set free.
    Who you are and what you don’t make no difference to me.

     

    They say I’ve begun to lose my grip,
    My hold on reality is starting to slip,
    To tell me to get off with this trip,
    They say it’s like a sinking ship,
    Life’s sweet wine’s too warm to sip,
    And if I drink I’ll surely slip, [flip?]
    I’ll just say as I take a nip:

    I can’t come down ’til it’s plain to see
    I can’t come down I’ve been set free.
    Who you are and what you don’t make no difference to me.

     

    So as I dream of forgotten seas
    And granit walls and redwood trees,
    And of the eye that only sees
    Endless mirrors and infinite me’s,
    About the winter’s coming freez
    This afterthought I say with ease,
    To all of you who make your fees:

    I can’t come down ’til it’s plain to see
    I can’t come down I’ve been set free.
    Who you are and what you don’t make no difference to me.

    http:/http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZSF99AnLOo

     


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