"If you tell the Truth, you don't have to remember anything"
-Mark Twain
"You realize, of course, that everything I say is horseshit." -Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday, August 9, 2014

His Job Is To Shed Light Not To Master

In the recent Rolling Stone Special Collectors Edition for Jerry Garcia, the magazine ranks the top 50 songs written by Garcia. They rank the top ten as being; 10. Scarlet Begonias 9. Sugaree 8. St. Stephen/The Eleven 7. Wharf Rat 6. Bertha 5. Ripple 4. Friend of the Devil 3. Eyes of the World 2. Dark Star and 1. Uncle John's Band. So it got me thinking of what would be my top ten Jerry penned songs. I love shows like 5/22/77 because the combo of Eyes/Wharf Rat/Terrapin/Dew, 7/13/84 Scarlet/Touch/Fire, 7/29/88 China/Crazy Fingers/Rider, 3/30/90 Uncle John's/China Doll/Terrapin are all shows that I love because of these manic Garcia combos. Although I know that not all these songs were written by Garcia. So I thought that I'd do a video blog of my five favorite Garcia songs. 
I want to remind you that this is a IMHO piece. Jerry has so many great songs that I'm completely heartbroken leaving so many songs off my list, because I really want all of them to be on my list. Feel free to leave your favorite five in the comments below, then you'll see the heartache I suffered doing this. How is Sugaree or St Stephen not on there? What about Dark Star? How??? All things the bugged the crap out of me doing this. 
Wharf Rat. A song debuted less than a mile away from the hospital that I was born at and a song that speaks so clearly to those who have had to resurrect their own life like I did in 1996. 
Eyes of the World. For so many DeadHead around my age, Eyes was a gateway to the band because of "Without A Net." The Branford Eyes smooth sounds shot right through the two CD set and was a favorite of the batch of songs. Ironically, the song had the same effect on people when they debuted it in February of 1973.
Scarlet Begonias. I remember the first time I heard it on a bootleg. I asked for a copy of the tape and played it non-stop. The bouncy beat and the hippy lyrics had me at love at first sound. Then later my sister named her first daughter and my first niece/nephew, Scarlett. And I fell in love all over again.
Touch of Grey. I'm a TouchHead, though not the way that the term was intended. I was ten when my family went to Disney World the first time. This meant cable TV in the hotel room when we weren't in the park. Morning, evening, and night, I watched MTV because it had music videos. I think I saw Touch at least twice a day. At first I resented it, but by the end of the week I loved the song and the skeletons too.
Terrapin Station. Everything the Grateful Dead represented was encapsulated in this song. A mystical journey that you'd never know if you'd return from. Garcia at one point called it the most pain-in-the-ass song he's every written. Even though the legend of Lady With A Fan is that it almost spontaneously hit Hunter and Garcia on two opposite sides of the bay durning a thunder storm. 
When I see Terrapin on a setlist, much like Dark Star, it is usually enough to persuade me to give the show a listen. Although the song didn't always work. The perfect example of this was Nassau on 3/28/91. A pretty ordinary second set was set on fire when they encored with Terrapin. People's feeling about the show complete changed by the song. And just so you are not mad at me Dark Star would have been number 6. 
There is IMHO list. I hope to see all these songs plus a few others tonight at the formerly The Garden State Arts Center at the Jerry Garcia Symphony.

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