Another Unpopular Opinion

RoscoeElegante

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I can understand, and of course respect, the anti-/un-GD opinions here. I share that, to a degree. Their noodling, tuning up, and the drum solos made me itchy.

But when they were synching, they were great. And while I like Bob Weir's singing on about three songs, he was often okay when backing up. And Jerry's voice was aptly wistful for many of their songs. E.g., Stella Blue, Pretty Peggy-O, etc. And when they wanted to rock, they could. Providing plenty of dramatic force and shape to their sets--until the damn drum solos thudded out all the momentum. They also did some fine covers, especially of Dylan's It's All Over Now, Baby Blue, etc.

I think they played best before Jerry diffused his talents in too many effects to fiddle with--that wonky, buzzy, quacky tone worst of all. And before/apart from their female back-up singer mis-keyed everything in reach. Before their keyboardists drowsed from drugs while onstage, etc. Check out this gorgeously syncopated live bit from way back. Weir's rhythm guitar, spread right, is almost as fine as Jerry's ripping leads. And the drumming is mercifully useful.


One of the joys of their shows, unless they were really bad ones, was that this type of pure fun could take flight, even out of slop and wander.

Which made their "meandering" stuff often elegantly expressive, as they would, at their best, offset tempos and moods very well. Several times in any decent or better show, they really got the holy goosebumps going. Jerry's tones could be like lacy velvet. Sounds cultish, but you could feel a kindness radiating. Even the dual drummers here--another live bit--stay dialed in.
 

TokyoPortrait

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Hi.

Folk like different stuff. It’s that simple.

Maybe we can use words to attempt to explain why - I was listening to something the other day, for example, that attempted to explain why what sounds like dissonant, melancholic music to me is perceived as happy by the culture that creates it.

But using words to convince others to like music, or that one point of view is right or wrong about liking music, that’s probably going to be less successful.

Pax/
Dean
 

scottser

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2 drummers is really hard to get right, and both of theirs were mediocre at best. I've heard live GD stuff where it sounds like someone kicking a drumkit down a set of stairs.
Add my shout to the naysayers please.
 

guitarsophist

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I love the Dead, but it is not unpopular, and quite understandable, to hate them. There are many reasons. I sometime wonder if it is Phil Lesh who is keeping time as it doesn't seem to be either of the drummers. I have only seen them live once though, and that was not a particularly good night.
 

aging_rocker

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I don't 'hate' the Dead (or any other band, really). I just don't see the point of them.

I did hear a track of theirs once that I thought was pretty good, and I can't remember the title (but it wasn't a live track...) but other than that, nope. Too much like country music for my tastes.
 

tomkatf

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Can somebody tell me about Donna Godchaux? I swear some of what I’ve heard was one of those “shred” videos…
 
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jimking

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Emboldened by Mjark's thread about Neil Young, I'll climb out on a shaky limb of my own:
I have tried hard over many years to like the Grateful Dead, and finally admitted to myself a few years ago that I just don't. Saw them live 4 times (early 70's - early 80s) and bought several albums. Only "American Beauty" merits any more listening to me. There is no denying that the Dead were - and remain - an amazing and enduring cultural phenomenon, but apart from a few brilliant moments over 40+ years, they're a mediocre band. Sloppy playing, worse singing and tedious jams. Maybe I just didn't take enough drugs. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration, Mjark!
Hmmm. Don't like The Dead and think Neil Young is over-rated. I think there are FB pages and groups for people who feel this way. I could easily belong to both. Love what you love.
 

Jimbodiddley

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I've never understood the reverence for Jerry Garcia's guitar playing either. To me, it just sounds like random noodling around on scales. Admittedly, I tend to prefer musicians who play with more melody and structure, so I guess it's just not my thing.
 

Linkslover

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I can understand disliking the band for their tastes in music.

However, I invite those of you who hate their musicianship to visit the YouTube sight hosted by Michael Palmisano who is an excels guitar player and take time to deconstruct many of their songs illustrating the complexities of their playing.

You may gain a new appreciation.

LL
 

combatguitar

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Emboldened by Mjark's thread about Neil Young, I'll climb out on a shaky limb of my own:
I have tried hard over many years to like the Grateful Dead, and finally admitted to myself a few years ago that I just don't. Saw them live 4 times (early 70's - early 80s) and bought several albums. Only "American Beauty" merits any more listening to me. There is no denying that the Dead were - and remain - an amazing and enduring cultural phenomenon, but apart from a few brilliant moments over 40+ years, they're a mediocre band. Sloppy playing, worse singing and tedious jams. Maybe I just didn't take enough drugs. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration, Mjark!
Never liked them either, boring music. Heard them live once and couldn't figure out why they where so popular. It was droning sound, no dynamics, nothing sounded original. More like a high school jam band of aspiring music students learning their way around their ax on two chords
Emboldened by Mjark's thread about Neil Young, I'll climb out on a shaky limb of my own:
I have tried hard over many years to like the Grateful Dead, and finally admitted to myself a few years ago that I just don't. Saw them live 4 times (early 70's - early 80s) and bought several albums. Only "American Beauty" merits any more listening to me. There is no denying that the Dead were - and remain - an amazing and enduring cultural phenomenon, but apart from a few brilliant moments over 40+ years, they're a mediocre band. Sloppy playing, worse singing and tedious jams. Maybe I just didn't take enough drugs. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration, Mjark!
 

croth

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Emboldened by Mjark's thread about Neil Young, I'll climb out on a shaky limb of my own:
I have tried hard over many years to like the Grateful Dead, and finally admitted to myself a few years ago that I just don't. Saw them live 4 times (early 70's - early 80s) and bought several albums. Only "American Beauty" merits any more listening to me. There is no denying that the Dead were - and remain - an amazing and enduring cultural phenomenon, but apart from a few brilliant moments over 40+ years, they're a mediocre band. Sloppy playing, worse singing and tedious jams. Maybe I just didn't take enough drugs. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration, Mjark!
If it helps you to have an ally, I feel the same way as you. I love bluegrass, folk-rock, and other genres that The Dead might fall into, but I could never like them for some reason that I can't quite put my finger on. In the 70's, I bought 3 of their albums one after the other, trying to find one I could like, and none of them clicked for me. Other than Uncle John's Band and, later on in their career, A Touch of Grey, I had trouble finding another song I liked. Their harmonies often made me wince and I find them un-tight as a band. Please don't kill me. :)
 

telecastasaurus

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Saying I don't like the Dead is like saying I don't like music. They play/cover just about every flavor of music under the sun. I'm a fan and for the most part, not always, enjoy the jams and the journeys that they take me on. Does everyone love every song that their favorite band(s) play? I don't live for a string of back-to-back three minute songs.
 

chris m.

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There are aspects I like and other aspects I don't, but overall I like a lot of their songs. One huge asset was their lyricist. I love the lyrics to many songs-- Scarlet Begonias, Sugar Magnolia, Box of Rain, Dire Wolf, Ripple, Friend of the Devil, Truckin' etc.. Many of their songs are destined to be Americana classics, in my opinion, even if you don't care for their renditions of the songs. American Beauty and Workingman's Dead have the bulk of these classics on them.

As far as Jerry's playing goes, it is a lot of noodling in myxolidian mode, mostly.

They also invented the American jam band, for better or worse. ( I would argue that the jam genre existed before that-- think Ravi Shankar Indian ragas, or maybe gamelan, or African drumming, or Native American singing/drumming....there's lots of musical genres that would go on for hours, helping the listeners achieve ecstatic states, sometimes with the aid of various psychedelics.)
 

Ex-riverman

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A friend of mine saw them several dozen times. To say that I don't get it is an understatement.

On the other hand, people say things like "if you remember Woodstock then you weren't there", so my guess is that Grateful Dead concerts are more of an "experience" than a concert.
It was also an experiment. It didn’t always work (and later it worked less and less it seems) but when it worked it was like watching the greatest band on the planet at that moment. When it didn’t (and yes drugs helped sometimes) they were like a bunch of guys winging it for the first time. And that could vary through the course of one concert. Sometimes it sounded like ****ty renditions of cowboy songs. Sometimes it sounded like peak late 60’s/early 70’s miles Davis. Seriously. I feel lucky to have attended a few of those good ones back in the day. But it ain’t for everybody! Like licorice.
 

Ex-riverman

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I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Terrapin Station. Far and away their most accomplished and adventurous piece of music, and the best studio sound they ever had.
accomplished 70’s/80’s rock producer Keith Olson!
 




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