Jerry Garcia – Deal

I haven’t heard this song as much as Sugaree but I like it almost just as well.

It is so well crafted and it swings with the best of them. This was off of his debut Garcia album and his voice is in perfect form. When I think of Jerry Garcia I never think…hmm great vocalist… but this changes my mind. His voice is so clear…it shows what a good vocalist Garcia could be. Robert Hunter’s words flow through you while Garcia’s guitar dances all around. He tops it off with a versatile solo.

The album is a mix of folk, country, blues, jazz, experimental,  and rock. I love the roots music because it’s so clean and genuine. He made the album in 1971 with mostly himself. Bill Kreutzmann (Dead Drummer) was the only other musician credited on Garcia, which was recorded at Wally Heider’s Studio D in San Francisco in July 1971 and released in January 1972.

Garcia also did the album for a cash infusion to buy a house for himself and Carolyn Adams (Mountain Girl) and two children. This was recorded a year after Working Man’s Dead and American Beauty…considered two of the best Grateful Dead albums. Many of the songs on this album became staples for the Grateful Dead in concert.

Bill Kreutzmann was credited as co-writer on 5 of the tracks and Garcia and Hunter on 5 tracks. Robert Hunter also collaborated with Bob Dylan on songs Duquesne Whistle, Ugliest Girl In The World, and the minor hit Silvio. He also co-wrote all but one track on the  Bob Dylan album Together Through Life released in 2009.

Jerry Garcia on making the album:  I’m doing it to be completely self-indulgent—musically. I’m just going on a trip. I have a curiosity to see what I can do and I’ve a desire to get into 16-track and go on trips which are too weird for me to want to put anybody else I know through. And also to pay for this house! 

Jerry Garcia: I’ll probably end up doing it with a lot of people. So far I’m only working with Bill Kreutzmann because I can’t play drums. But everything else I’m going to try to play myself. Just for my own edification. What I’m going to do is what I would do if I had a 16-track at home, I’m just going to goof around with it. And I don’t want anyone to think that it’s me being serious or anything like that—it’s really me goofing around. I’m not trying to have my own career or anything like that. There’s a lot of stuff that I feel like doing and the Grateful Dead, just by fact that it’s now a production for us to go out and play, we can’t get as loose as we had been able to, so I’m not able to stay as busy as I was. It’s just a way to keep my hand in so to speak, without having to turn on a whole big scene. In the world that I live in there’s the Grateful Dead which is one unit which I’m a part of and then there’s just me. And the me that’s just me, I have to keep my end up in order to be able to take care of my part of the Grateful Dead. So rather than sit home and practice—scales and stuff—which I do when I’m together enough to do it—I go out and play because playing music is more enjoyable to me than sitting home and playing scales.

Deal

Since it costs a lot to win, and even more to lose,
You and me bound to spend some time wond’rin’ what to choose.
Goes to show, you don’t ever know,
Watch each card you play and play it slow,
Wait until that deal come round,
Don’t you let that deal go down, no, no.

I been gamblin’ hereabouts for ten good solid years,
If I told you all that went down it would burn off both of your ears.
Goes to show you don’t ever know
Watch each card you play and play it slow,
Wait until that deal come round,
Don’t you let that deal go down, no, no.

Since you poured the wine for me and tightened up my shoes,
I hate to leave you sittin’ there, composin’ lonesome blues.
Goes to show you don’t ever know
Watch each card you play and play it slow,
Wait until that deal come round, don’t you let that deal go down.

Wait until that deal come round, don’t you let that deal go down,
Wait until that deal come round, don’t you let that deal go down,
Don’t you let that deal go down, don’t you let that deal go down.

So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead …. by David Browne

I’ve read a few books about the Dead but this one is probably the best I’ve read. I just finished re-reading it after finishing it three years ago. It is their complete history from beginning to end. The book I enjoyed the most was Deal: by Bill Kreutzmann The Deads drummer. He has some great stories and Steve Parish’s book is good also…but as far as the history…this has been the best.

This is not like reading a book about the Beatles, Stones, Dylan, or even the Allman Brothers. The Grateful Dead were totally different in the way they came about and what path they took. They were such a hippy band but along the way they turned into a corporate organization…a different kind of organization but one all the same. Their crew was known to be loud and sometimes violent along with the Hells Angels by the mid-seventies and the craziness wore off on everyone around them.

I always thought of them as this loose ensemble that just loved playing. Yes, they loved playing but they weren’t above pointing fingers when something went wrong on stage. At one point Weir and Pigpen were “fired” although accounts differ on if they really were let go. In other words, they were human… like anyone else. They did however think differently and for a bunch of hippies…they were very ambitious.

Speaking of Pigpen (Ron McKernan)… that was a wonderful thing about this book…his importance is highlighted and you see how important he was to the Grateful Dead. Jerry wasn’t the key focus when they started…it was Pigpen. Although he looked like a biker…he was described as an incredibly nice and sensitive man. He was the showman of the band and Jerry commented that he was the best musician in the band in the beginning.

The book covers their entire career and along with the way, there are many twists and turns. They cover Garcia’s slide down until his diabetic coma in 1986 when he had to re-learn how to play guitar again. Less than a year later they were back on the road and then recorded the In The Dark album.

The band never had a big hit single and now…over 20 years of being together and touring they were suddenly huge with the song Touch Of Grey. They even agreed to play the game with the record company and they made a video. They were signed to Arista Records and the record company and band were at a meeting. Garcia suddenly asked, “I don’t have to do Dick Clark, do I?” With that, the executives laughed at the thought of the Grateful Dead appearing on American Bandstand.

There were points where it looked like Garcia would beat his addictions but the threat of him going back to heroin was always there. They also cover all the members rather well…Garcia wasn’t the only one with drug problems but his problem probably affected the band the most.

If you want to learn about their history…this is a really good read.

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

Jerry Garcia – Sugaree

I remember this song on the radio in the seventies. Of all places, it was played a lot at our local skating rink. It’s high on the list of my favorite songs. It wasn’t the best song written by Garcia and Hunter but I can listen to it at any time. Probably the first Dead…or close to a Dead song I ever heard. The song has stuck with me my entire life.

Jerry Garcia played most of the instruments on this album except drums and Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann handled those. Sugaree was on the Garcia album released in 1972. He had teamed up with other players in the past but this was his first solo album. The song peaked at #94 on the Billboard 100 in 1972. I always liked the vague lyrics to this song. I first thought it was about death… you can take it a lot of ways.

The Grateful Dead did this live many times…Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter wrote this song. The Dead made their reputation live. They got very little radio play and didn’t sell many albums, but they are one of the top-grossing concert acts of all time.

Like the Allman Brothers, they formed a family atmosphere with their crew and it extended to their audience. From the early Kool-Aid acid tests to later on allowing the audience to tape their shows drew their audience closer. They would later give them their own section to record in…while other bands like Led Zeppelin would send people to bust their tape recorder or head. Garcia commented: Well, my feelings are, the music is for the people…I mean after it leaves our instruments it’s of no value to us, ya know what I mean? it’s like, ya know…what good is it? So it might as well be taped, my feeling is that..and if people enjoy taping it and enjoy having the tapes to listen to, that’s real great. “

They never played the same show twice. They would take songs in different directions and Garcia has said that he couldn’t play something twice the same. He just wasn’t built like that. That made every show unique…not that every show was great. The Dead has admitted they had their share of bad ones.

On Deadheads following them around the country: “Well, it’s obviously very important to them. And more than that, it’s giving them an adventure. They have stories to tell. Like, “Remember that time we had to go all the way to Colorado and we had to hitchhike the last 400 miles because the VW broke down in Kansas.” Or something like that. Y’know what I mean? That’s giving them a whole common group of experiences which they can talk about. For a lot of people, going to Grateful Dead concerts is like bumping into a bunch of old friends.”

Bill Kreutzmann…if you get a chance read his book Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead. I covered it here a while back. It’s an education in the rock world…or the Dead world of the 60s through the 90s. If you are offended by drugs, sex, and great music…pass it by.

Robert Hunter: “Sugaree was written soon after I moved from the Garcia household to China Camp. People assume the idea was cadged from Elizabeth Cotten’s ‘Sugaree,’ but, in fact, the song was originally titled ‘Stingaree,’ which is a poisonous South Sea manta. The phrase ‘just don’t tell them that you know me’ was prompted by something said by an associate in my pre-Dead days when my destitute circumstances found me fraternizing with a gang of minor criminals. What he said, when departing, was: ‘Hold your mud and don’t mention my name.’

“Why change the title to ‘Sugaree’? Just thought it sounded better that way, made the addressee seem more hard-bitten to bear a sugar-coated name. The song, as I imagined it, is addressed to a pimp. And yes, I knew Libba’s song, and did indeed borrow the new name from her, suggested by the ‘Shake it’ refrain.”

Bill Kreutzmann Drummer for the Dead: The album, Garcia, was cut at Wally Heider Studios in July 1971 and released by Warner Brothers the following January. There are a lot of songs on there that became Grateful Dead mainstays, in addition to “Deal”—we’re talking about straight-up classics like “Sugaree,” “Loser,” and “The Wheel.” Also, “Bird Song” is on there, which, to this day, is one of my all-time favorite Dead songs and one of my absolute favorite songs to play live (along with “Dark Star” and “The Other One”).

When I want musicians I’m playing with to learn any of those songs, I give them the Garcia versions. They’re just so good. I had a really great time making that album. Dealing exclusively with Jerry was the most effortless thing in the world. I didn’t have to do anything other than be myself. And play.

Cocaine was our special guest throughout those recording sessions, but you’d never be able to tell because everything was very laid back. I have no idea how we were able to do that, because cocaine isn’t exactly known for its relaxing properties. Maybe it was just the dynamic between us that made it all so … easy.

Sugaree

When they come to take you down
When they bring that wagon round
When they come to call on you
and drag your poor body down

Just one thing I ask of you
Just one thing for me
Please forget you knew my name
My darlin Sugaree

Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me

You thought you was the cool fool
Never could do no wrong
Had everything sewed up tight
How come you lay awake all night long?

Just one thing I ask of you
Just one thing for me
Please forget you knew my name
My darlin Sugaree

Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me

You know in spite of all you gained
you still have to stand out in the pouring rain
One last voice is calling you
and I guess it’s time you go

Just one thing I ask of you
Just one thing for me
Please forget you knew my name
My darlin Sugaree

Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me

Shake it up now, Sugaree
I’ll meet you at the Jubilee
If that Jubilee don’t come
Maybe I’ll meet you on the run

One thing I ask of you
Just one thing for me
Please forget you knew my name
my darling Sugaree

Shake it, shake it Sugaree
but don’t tell them that you know me
Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell ’em that you know me

Deal by Bill Kreutzmann

The book is called Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead.

This book is what you would imagine from the drummer (one of them) of the Grateful Dead. Music, drugs, women, drugs, travels, guns, drugs, death, drink and more drugs. Actually, I really enjoyed the book. He is very open and very honest about his actions good and bad.

He is not a shy guy whatsoever. He shares his feelings about any subject that comes up. He does go into the music and how he feels about his bandmates. Most are positive but he does not hold back.

He covers the complete career of the band. He openly said he was very happy being the only drummer of the band when Mickey Hart quit and didn’t like it one bit when Mickey rejoined the band…at first anyway.

He goes into his relationship with Jerry Garcia. He also admits the guilt the band share in not trying to help Garcia more…but Jerry was his own man. He writes about the so-called keyboard player curse the band had in their career.

He tells us about the 72 European tour, shows they played near the pyramids and the Festival Express. I will say this…this band had fun. They were like a family and treated their employees well for the most part.

The only thing that I wish he would have shared more about was Pigpen. The band was apparently in the dark about how bad Pigpen was doing before he died. Maybe he didn’t share it with them.

I learned a lot about the Dead that I didn’t know about.

The book keeps going at a good pace. With the Dead’s long career he never lacks for stories. A lot of rock autobiographies are coming out and again this one takes the template that Keith Richards made with his book “Life” and fills it in.

Bill Kreutzmann from Deal about Garcia and heroin:

I’m pretty sure Jerry wasn’t into heroin during the making of Garcia; as far I know, he hadn’t even discovered it yet. But when he did, during subsequent Grateful Dead albums, it could become difficult just to get him to show up, unfortunately. That got to be really old, really fast, for all of us. We wanted to play music with him so badly that we’d put up with it, which—in hindsight—was crazy. Nobody else in the band would’ve been able to get away with it; at least, not to the extent that he did. But Jerry Garcia was the exception.
It also opens up a moral question that we can talk about now, but we can never truly answer, since he’s not with us. There was a certain feeling, toward the end, that Jerry was using the Grateful Dead to finance his drug habit. That’s a sad thought. I don’t think he ever intended it to be that way or for it to get to that point or to hurt anyone. He was as pure of a musician as they come. But heroin addiction will change a person in ways that are tragic and discouraging.