deadsongs.vue.231 : The Grateful Dead Canon
permalink #0 of 10: David Gans (tnf) Wed 18 May 05 11:34
    

This idea arose in a discussion elsewhere in the WELL.

Given the massive availablility of Grateful Dead music online, and the
everincreasing wealth of official releases, this seems like a good time to
start a discussion of the Grateful Dead canon with a look toward making a
list of the most important, definitive performances.

People who have never heard the Grateful Dead and wonder what the fuss is
about would have a hard time knowing where to start listening, given the un-
differentiated heap of shows on archive.org and in the GD Store.

The Deadheads' Taping Compendium offers reviews of a vast number of shows,
but that's not a document that is going to be too helpful to the novice.

Elsewhere, <mz> proposed the creation of a canonical three-show run of
three-set shows that would demonstrate the range of GD music through their
styles and over time.  That seems like one of several good approaches; work-
ing from that structure, we could eventually derive a list of peak perfor-
mances of individual songs, jams that represent the unique improvisational
spirit of the band, and sequences that demonstrate the idea of the set as
composition.
  
deadsongs.vue.231 : The Grateful Dead Canon
permalink #1 of 10: some sort of twisted Ellen James Society running around lopping off their fingers in homage to Jerry (jberger) Wed 18 May 05 15:50
    
For sheer vocal harmony beauty, I'd nominate "To Lay Me Down", from
10/13/80.  This is not just lay me down, it's lay me down on a soft bed of
feathers topped by a down comforter, with a soft cushion of fog softening
the edges as they disappear off into the evening, all with the light gravity
of a full moon.

This is the song to play for those who say that the Dead can't sing
harmonies.
  
deadsongs.vue.231 : The Grateful Dead Canon
permalink #2 of 10: David Gans (tnf) Wed 18 May 05 15:54
    
Nice!  That's acoustic, I presume?
  
deadsongs.vue.231 : The Grateful Dead Canon
permalink #3 of 10: drugs, underaged chicks and dirty funtimes (noah) Thu 19 May 05 06:25
    
Yeah. That's the one that got used for "Reckoning" I think.
  
deadsongs.vue.231 : The Grateful Dead Canon
permalink #4 of 10: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Thu 19 May 05 09:53
    
Why not reserve this thread for the set lists discussion and get the
performance nominations (including studio versions, I should think)
posted against each individual tune in the .vue list? Otherwise this
could get freakishly unweildy.
  
deadsongs.vue.231 : The Grateful Dead Canon
permalink #5 of 10: neil (nlg) Thu 19 May 05 14:32
    
I would think that approach to have its own facets of unwieldiness.

I kind of think that choosing either three paradigmatic shows, or nine
sets, three each from three key eras, might be a way to start.  Then,
each setlist could be deconstructed, and if agreed upon, reconstructed
with better versions of some songs and jams.

That is, if I'm understanding the overall goal correctly, which is to
put out there three, three-set compilations that show novitiates just
what made the Dead so compelling, and so important in the evolution of
musical performance (and songwriting) as the band itself evolved.

SMR was one truly excellent stab at that, and it is what I tell every
curious seeker to seek out and listen to from front to back if they
want to understand.  This is another approach, and I think it is a cool
concept.
  
deadsongs.vue.231 : The Grateful Dead Canon
permalink #6 of 10: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Fri 20 May 05 08:35
    
I'm not sure on what points we disagree. I am trying to suggest a
structure to collect the data to enable the result. In my view, unless
there is a clear methodology, we won't get too far.

Bascically, build the set lists and then identify the best
representative performances for each tune.

As for the set lists, one angle might be to use post GD to try to get
a full sweep across the repertoire - eg Red Rocks '03, with no repeated
tunes over the five night run. Then pare that down to the essentials.
  
deadsongs.vue.231 : The Grateful Dead Canon
permalink #7 of 10: David Gans (tnf) Fri 20 May 05 11:08
    

I think MZ's idea of three three-set shows is a great way to organize the
beginnings of the discussion, but eventually I'd like to see a more thorough
document than that, taking any number of paths through the heap of music.
  
deadsongs.vue.231 : The Grateful Dead Canon
permalink #8 of 10: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Thu 26 May 05 06:08
    
Right on, David. It is probably best to define an initial scope that
can be realised relatively easily, while bearing in mind future
upgrades.
  
deadsongs.vue.231 : The Grateful Dead Canon
permalink #9 of 10: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Fri 24 Jun 05 10:23
    
Is anyone working on the set lists?
  
deadsongs.vue.231 : The Grateful Dead Canon
permalink #10 of 10: bound to cover (mossman) Tue 28 Jun 05 09:45
    
As I recall, there was an historic run at Madison Square Garden,
something like 10 sold out shows in 2 weeks, in which only a handful of
songs were played more than once.  It was from the period just prior
to thier "mainstreaming" and might typify an example of the "Canon" to
which we aspire.
  



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