Grateful Dead – Don’t Ease Me In

I first noticed this song on the concert film The Festival Express a few years ago. I’ve heard the two studio versions but that live version is the one I like best. It’s something about it I really connect to. Garcia and Weir sound great singing together along with Pigpen playing the harmonica. It’s just a simple blues-type song but it works well for me anyway.

As soon as I heard it I took one of my acoustic guitars off the wall and kept running back the video file back and playing with them…I didn’t think they would mind.

This song was first released by the Dead in 1966 as their first single with Stealin on the flip side. That version is good and it reminds me of the band Them…not the voice but the music. They also released it again on their Go To Heaven album in 1980 but that version to me is a little too slick. The version on Festival Express shows all the ragged edges in the best way. It is pure Americana. They would do it live many times later on but I still go back to the Festival version.

They also covered it before they were the Grateful Dead. They started off as a jug band called Mother McCrees Uptown Jug Champions and most likely covered it when they were called the Warlocks.

They might have heard the version of the song by Henry Thomas…an old blues artist that lived from 1874 to around 1930. If you want to learn more in detail about Thomas and this song go here to Jim’s site. It also sounds close to a song by Jelly Roll Morton called Don’t You Leave Me Here. On the Go To Heaven album, it’s credited to “traditional arranged by The Grateful Dead.” The single that was released in 1966 was credited to Garcia but I’ve read where he didn’t authorize that and didn’t ask for a credit.

Speaking of the Festival Express…it was The Transcontinental Pop Festival… better known as the Festival Express. Great idea on paper… rounding up musicians in 1970 and placing them on a train going across Canada and stopping along the way to play festivals. What could go wrong? Actually, I would have loved to have been on that train. The lineup: The Band, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Buddy Guy Blues Band, The Fly Burrito Brothers, Sha Na Na, and Delaney & Bonnie & Friends.

There were artists that were not in the film like Traffic, Ten Years After, Tom Rush, Ian & Sylvia, Mountain, and more.

A DVD was released of this in 2004. All these musicians were on a train full of liquor and an assortment of drugs… liquor was the popular choice among the musicians on this ride. The tour was to have events in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Vancouver. The Montreal event was canceled as was Vancouver. In Toronto, protesters were saying the festival promoters were price gouging so The Grateful Dead played a free concert in a park nearby to ease tensions with the protesters.

When watching the film you can see the performers are having a ball jamming with each other because they didn’t get a lot of chances to do that on the road.

Here is the link to the full movie free on youtube…if you have time…it’s worth it!

Bill Kreutzmann (drummer for the Dead): We celebrated Janis Joplin’s birthday at the last stop the traditional way: with birthday cake. In keeping with our own kind of tradition, somebody—within our ranks, I would imagine—had secretly infused the cake with a decent amount of LSD. So it quickly became an electric birthday celebration. Allegedly, some generous pieces of that birthday cake made it to the hands and mouths of the local police who were working the show. “Let them eat cake!” (To be fair, I didn’t have anything to do with that … I was just another cake-eating birthday reveler, that night.)
And that was it for the Festival Express. It was a wonderful time and I think what really made it great was the level of interaction and camaraderie among the musicians, day and night, as we were all trapped on this train careening across the great north. It probably helped that we were all trashed the entire time. Whiskey was in the conductor’s seat on that ride.

I would recommend getting the DVD of this event. It’s a great time capsule of that time in music and culture.

Don’t Ease Me In

Don’t ease, don’t ease, don’t ease me in
I’ve been all night long coming home, don’t ease me in

I was standing on the corner, talking to Miss Brown
When I turned around, sweet mama, she was way across town
So I’m walking down the street, with a dollar in my hand
I’ve been looking for a woman, sweet mama, ain’t got no manDon’t ease, don’t ease, don’t ease me in
I’ve been all night long coming home, don’t ease me inThe girl I love, she’s sweet and true
You know the dress she wears, sweet mama, it’s pink and blue
She brings me coffee, you know she brings me tea
She brings about every damn thing, but the jailhouse keyDon’t ease, don’t ease, don’t ease me in
I’ve been all night long coming home, don’t ease me inDon’t ease, don’t ease, don’t ease me in
I’ve been all night long coming home, don’t ease me inDon’t ease, don’t ease, don’t ease me in
I’ve been all night long coming home, don’t ease me in

Talking to Miss Brown
Well I turned around, sweet moma
She was way cross town

So I’m walking down the street
With a dollar in my hand
I’ve been looking for a woman, sweet moma
Ain’t got no man

The girl I love
She’s sweet and true
You know the dress she wears, sweet moma
It’s pink and blue

She brings me coffee
You know she brings me tea
She brings ’bout every damn thing
But the jailhouse key

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

13 thoughts on “Grateful Dead – Don’t Ease Me In”

  1. Nice post Max. The photo of the Grateful Dead sitting on piles of hay was faked. Stanley Mouse created a projected photo that he traced up with a pencil and then freehand airbrushed it with ink. They were going to use it to film a movie called marijuana hell, but the movie was never made and sometime later the mansion was torn down.

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    1. Jim…I thought my recent Grateful Dead posts had something wrong with them because you didn’t comment. I just found both of your comments in my stupid spam folder along with many more. I didn’t know that about the photo…that is cool!
      Just wanted you to know I didn’t ignore your comments.

      Like

  2. upbeat little toe-tapper. Canucks a decade older than me were lucky back then I guess… wonder how it was they decided of all the possible tours in the world, to go across Canada in a train?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like most festivals…it was under funded and under advertised in some towns. It was probably picked because that is where the promoters had the most connections. All of that talent on the train is impressive now…but they were in their early twenties then and wanted to party lol.

      The idea stuck around… Stiff Records copied the idea in 1978… with the “Be Stiff Route 78 tour” and it was copied recently also by some bands….not as wild though!

      Like

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