We will probably look back on 2016 to 2017 as the years in which the cultic quarantine of the Grateful Dead finally ended for good, and for the good. The bands legacy shed its love-hate binary and joined the grand buffet as just another long-running classic rock band that you are free to like a little or a lot, if you please, without giving your goddamned soul to it, or to loathing it.
The Deads reputation and cultural associations were so polarizing for so long,that it had kept many ordinary people from even liking songs like Brokedown Palace. Who in their right mind wouldnt like Brokedown Palace? Thats how bad it had gotten.
For decades, the Deads bottomless catalogue of good songs in multiple streams Bakersfield, electric ragtime, world fusion, psych-punk and, that rarest bird, a truly American take on prog-rock had been a no-fly zone for all but the most thick-skinned of hipsters. Those selfsame hipsters could revere Dylan, Neil or the Band without smudge, but for reasons not entirely musical, the Dead were denied their obvious place in that hip tradition and were instead stamped as the apotheosis of stoned hippie indulgence and fatuous West-Coast cultism.
Were the Dead a monomaniacal cult of zealots feverishly cataloguing live shows and taking over cities with a druggy and privileged trustafarian hedonism, dancing in certain very specific ways to music that, for all of its purported out-on-a-limb extemporaneity, could sound pretty lethargic from a distance, especially in those fatigued years the Eighties when their live popularity peaked? Imagine, as Jerry Garcia had to, waking up with very serious health issues at 45 to find that you were functionally Elvis. Scorceses recent six-part documentary does a fine job of documenting this tragic dimension of Jerrys story.
Certain sanguine hipsters (Elvis Costello comes to mind) were always unashamed and vocal in their affection for the Dead, but they were so rare in that sphere that I can hardly name another.
So what precipitated the change? Scorseses attention signaled that the culture at large was ready to drop its contempt for the Deads cultic singularity and to regard them as what they were: a great band in their way, a far-out narrative in a straight line of descent from the Beats, and a treasure chest of cool songs that share in the roots modernism of Dylan and Robbie Robertson.
For me, a more telling and much-less-publicized sea change arrived the year before: 2016sDay of the Dead, a massive 59-track tribute record released as the 25th compilation benefiting the Red Hot Organization, an international charity dedicated to raising funds and awareness for HIV and AIDS.
The Dead have hundreds of songs that can be easily extracted from their distinctive way of playing them. Theirs is an oeuvre ideal for looting and style play. What was shocking and what would have been all-but-impossible in the decades before was who was paying the tribute.
Day of the Deadwas forged (locally, in fact) under the artistic direction of Brooklyn producer (and former New Paltz resident) Josh Kaufman and brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner from the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Ohio band the National, one of the few arena-grade bands that the Indie Decade produced. The tracks came, by and large, from their people: the hip people of the borough and its satellite scenes, from the War on Drugs and from Kurt Vile, from Jenny Lewis, Cass McCombs, the Walkmen, Real Estate. The record featured no fewer than three scintillating contributions from the who-knew Deadhead Will Oldham, also known as Bonnie Prince Billy. His daring choice of the Garcia solo epic Ruben and Cherise is one of the records highest highs.
It is certainly cool that so many of the hip artists of the Aughts were enthused by the project and undeterred by jam contamination (which is real), but therein also lies the friction. The Dead already had a vital, commercially humming downstream legacy. It is all the bands you hate, from Phish to String Cheese Incident, who did huge numbers at the gate and operated squarely in the Deads tradition of unscripted improvisation and fancentric bootleg values. These Balkanized jam states inherited the Dead scene seamlessly after Jerry died, and the party only got bigger in the Nineties.
And in the post-Jerry years, Bob and Phils touring projects raided that scene for replacement players, such as keyboardist Rob Barraco from the Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra and bassist Oteil Burbage and guitarist Jimmy Herring from jam-scene stalwarts Aquarium Rescue Unit.
Day of the Deadwas not completely free of association with the jam scene. Weir himself, of course, appears on the record, performing a savage and spot-on live rendition of the psych-rock masterpiece St. Stephen with Wilco, Tweedy as delightfully unsteady of voice as vintage Jerry and clearly loving it. Eighties era Dead celebrity keyboardist Bruce Hornsby delivers a stunning Modernist take on the late Garcia/Hunter heartbreaker Black Muddy River, and there are a few other artists represented with jam-world cred: My Morning Jackets Jim James, for example, and drummer Joe Russo.
The record and the current Dead reappraisal now under way expose an interesting and difficult dimension of the rescue and repair of reputations. It is a story in which the Grateful Dead are essentially airlifted like the Chili Peppers off the tarmac at Woodstock 99 out of the sprawling mess they made with their own hands.
Do the Dead even make sense plucked from the culture they birthed? Who owns what? Can we agree to share the Grateful Dead? Can this reappreciation and revisionism broaden everyones purview and perhaps temper the cruel belittlement and critical vitriol reserved, seemingly, for jam rock alone?
Read more installments of Village Voices by John Burdick.
See the original post:
- DRIVE 2020: DRIVE: Buff pickups from hell to get your through it - Dallas Voice - November 7th, 2020
- Earth911 Podcast: Thinking Through Post-Growth Living With Philosopher Kate Soper | Earth 911 - Earth911.com - November 7th, 2020
- 12 Classic Songs That Happened By Accident Kerrang! - Kerrang! - November 7th, 2020
- 10 Warhammer 40,000 Factions That Still Need Proper Armies - TheGamer - November 7th, 2020
- Partying Like Its 1925 as Londons Theaters Go Dark (Again) - The New York Times - November 7th, 2020
- A psychologist explains how Trump's own words reveal the traits that make him unfit for office - AlterNet - November 7th, 2020
- Stream These 15 Titles Before They Leave Netflix in November - The New York Times - November 7th, 2020
- If any institution can inspire the Maltese nation to do good, it's Serkin. In a divided nation, the pastizz unites all - MaltaToday - November 7th, 2020
- Why Trump is so obsessed with 'Y.M.C.A.' - SFGate - November 7th, 2020
- Good use of that Christmas party budget - RollOnFriday - October 19th, 2020
- Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business - Shanken News Daily - October 19th, 2020
- October Surprise! US psychiatrists convince the media to reveal the extent of Trump's mental instability - NationofChange - October 19th, 2020
- In search of the real Ma Anand Sheela - Livemint - October 19th, 2020
- Not even seats and social distancing can stop Working Men's Club from bringing the hedonism to London's Oslo - DIY Magazine - October 10th, 2020
- Features | Tome On The Range | Under The Skin: Skunk Anansie At Glastonbury, 1999 - The Quietus - October 10th, 2020
- Bartenders Tell Us The Best-Tasting Whiskies They've Ever Tried Wonderfully Curated News - Register - October 10th, 2020
- Satire | October Horoscopes - University of Pittsburgh The Pitt News - October 10th, 2020
- Track by Track: International Teachers of Pop on the bombastic Pop Gossip | Gigwise - Gigwise - September 4th, 2020
- Class Action Park Review: Thanks for the Injuries - The New York Times - September 4th, 2020
- Junk Explained: Why Recessions Hit Young People The Hardest - Junkee - September 4th, 2020
- I May Destroy You: The HBO series about consent we should all be watching (Trigger Warning-sexual assault, rape) - The Observer - September 4th, 2020
- Remembering the time David Bowie and John Cale got wasted and jammed, 1978 - Far Out Magazine - September 4th, 2020
- Blue sky thinking with the A-list's favourite shrink - MSN UK - September 4th, 2020
- Liverpool are ready for another Jrgen Klopp journey, but this one carries biggest warning yet - Liverpool.com - September 4th, 2020
- Op-Ed: To My Fellow Students, Please, Just Follow the Rules - The Tower - September 4th, 2020
- Welcome to Nashville, Where Were Just Realizing Theres a Pandemic - Rolling Stone - August 10th, 2020
- What the new Sky drama series Little Birds is all about and what inspired it - iNews - August 10th, 2020
- How this year's freshers are feeling about picking the wrong year to start university - iNews - August 10th, 2020
- Opinion: Robert McNeil: All the lonely people: are they taking the bliss? - HeraldScotland - August 10th, 2020
- 9 Perfect Scotches To Sip In The Summertime - The Manual - August 10th, 2020
- Living in Clerkenwell:the Zone 1 neighbourhood with house prices on the up and Crossrail on the horizon - Homes and Property - August 10th, 2020
- The reason why the BBC banned A Day In The Life by The Beatles - Far Out Magazine - August 10th, 2020
- Hedonism II | Top Clothing Optional Resorts In Negril, Jamaica - August 7th, 2020
- Hedonism - Wikipedia - August 7th, 2020
- A Safe Spot for Gay Travelers at Jamaica's Hedonism II ... - August 7th, 2020
- Hedonism II Returning in July With Party Safely ... - August 7th, 2020
- hedonism | Philosophy & Definition | Britannica - August 7th, 2020
- Hedonism III to rebrand as a more conservative resort ... - August 7th, 2020
- Hedonism III: Naked truths about 'resort casual': Travel ... - August 7th, 2020
- Taking Time to Enjoy the Pleasures of Life Brings Happiness - PsychCentral.com - August 7th, 2020
- The Other Columbus: National Beer Float Light Cat Pin Zuke Day - Columbus Alive - August 7th, 2020
- Two Dances: The Women of Fellini and Beardsley - Varsity Online - August 7th, 2020
- The Dandy Warhols Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia: Why It Mattered - Happy - August 7th, 2020
- The South Got Something To Say: A Celebration Of Southern Rap (1995-1999) - NPR - August 7th, 2020
- Hedonism can be a good thing - Cosmos - August 5th, 2020
- Why researchers are encouraging us to embrace hedonism - TimesLIVE - August 5th, 2020
- Ill always feel in my element at this neon-lit rave in the Nevada desert - Telegraph.co.uk - August 5th, 2020
- From Cancun to Jamaica, Adults-Only Resorts That Are Open Right Now - Caribbean Journal - August 5th, 2020
- Finding Home Away From Home In The City of Rovinj, Croatia - vmagazine.com - August 5th, 2020
- Feel the need to be on the go all the time? Here's permission to relax - The Star Online - August 5th, 2020
- Where are the religious Zionists in defense of Netanyahu? - Haaretz.com - August 5th, 2020
- The Bologna Massacre, the 'Strategy of Tension' and Operation Gladio - CounterPunch - August 5th, 2020
- 'The Matrix Has You...' - The Good Men Project - August 5th, 2020
- Sea level rise: three visions of a future summer holiday at the coast - The Conversation UK - August 5th, 2020
- How we met: 'He spoke to me in a French accent, and I went weak at the knees' - The Guardian - August 5th, 2020
- Review: 'Beastie Boys Story' on Apple TV+ examines the growth of the iconic band - The Oakland Press - August 4th, 2020
- Soft white wines that pack a punch - The Guardian - July 31st, 2020
- Giving in to occasional temptation leads to a happier life - Brinkwire - July 31st, 2020
- Experts Have Found The Key To Happiness | WOMX - RADIO.COM - July 31st, 2020
- Closer to success: scientists surprised by unexpected statement Hedonists - The Saxon - July 31st, 2020
- Netflix, Amazon, Stan, Foxtel, Binge and more: Everything new to streaming in August | Australia - NEWS.com.au - July 31st, 2020
- Multifaceted approach necessary to overcome domestic violence in Turkey | Daily Sabah - Daily Sabah - July 31st, 2020
- COMMENTARY || Tough-on-crime anti-drug moralizing does a disservice to Canadians - Folio - University of Alberta - July 31st, 2020
- 1920: The Year Broadway Learned To Syncopate | The Syncopated Times - The Syncopated Times - July 30th, 2020
- Keep the dist-dance - techtoday19 - July 29th, 2020
- 5 extraordinary submerged sites that will make you believe Atlantis is real - BreakingNews.ie - July 28th, 2020
- Kylie Minogue Fans Have Broken The Internet At "Say Something" - Wonderland Magazine - July 28th, 2020
- Purdue prof attracts cult following as expert on 'The Black Death' - Purdue Exponent - July 28th, 2020
- Is The West Repeating India's Mistakes? Interview (Part II) - Eurasia Review - July 28th, 2020
- Revelations Of Heist And Hedonism Of Youngsters - The Nigerian Voice - July 27th, 2020
- An epic year of misbehaviour, hedonism and havoc behind the scenes of 'Ryan's Daughter' - Independent.ie - July 25th, 2020
- Tough-on-crime anti-drug moralizing does a disservice to Canadians - The Globe and Mail - July 25th, 2020
- Turning 40 Gives the Gift of Perspective - PsychCentral.com - July 25th, 2020
- Rebel with a Cause: The Saint and the values that inspire Drew Pavlou - The Catholic Weekly - July 25th, 2020
- Jim Carrey explores the absurdities of life (and himself) in novel - San Francisco Chronicle - July 21st, 2020
- Which star sign will make you rich? Experts reveal who will be in the money - Chronicle Live - July 21st, 2020
- Who Will Save Londons Nightlife? - HYPEBEAST - July 21st, 2020
- Scotland on Sunday Travel - House of Gods, Edinburgh - The Scotsman - July 21st, 2020
- Throwback to the 1970s: Netanyahu is facing his own Yom Kippur War - Haaretz - July 21st, 2020
- Stream It Or Skip It: 'The Business of Drugs' on Netflix, a Documentary Series About the Ins and Outs of Controlled-Substance Trades - Decider - July 21st, 2020