Saturday, February 02, 2013

Music for Cleaning Your Basement Office on a Saturday Afternoon

It’s a shame the Grateful Dead come with such baggage. I knew a lot of Deadheads back in college and what bothered me was how it was less about the music than making the scene. I saw the Dead on Halloween 1985 at the Carolina Coliseum in my hometown of Columbia, SC. I envied the people who could go from town to town following them around, but it was more about hanging out and not working and traveling cross-country from one stoner party to another that appealed than the phoned-in performances.

It’s another shame altogether this band peaked in 1970. They released two albums that year, Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty and aside from “U.S. Blues,” the standout track from their 1974 album From the Mars Hotel, that was it. It’s an opinion I’ve had to keep to myself for a long time. 

I’ve always been about the songs, though. And if you dig good acoustic guitar songs, with melodious, harmonious singing, then put all that stupid goose-stepping teddy bear and skulls-and-roses stuff aside—seriously, has the iconography for any other brand been more mismatched?—and you’ve got songs that make you want to pick up your guitar and sing and play along. The following case in point is the first track from Workingman’s Dead, and the most fun you’ll ever have in the key of G.

I find the song especially appropriate for this time of year. The first full month is behind us and don’t you know...

Oh the first days are the hardest days
Don’t you worry anymore

Because when life looks like Easy Street

There is danger at your door.

So I guess I’m all right, then. Good to know.