I have always been a Grateful Dead fan. Since the early 1970s I have been listening and enjoying the music. I still listen to the music today, it has been a comfort and friend over the years. It, like anything else that is of excellent quality has stood the test of time, in my opinion. I was a kid when I started listening and my family and I listened to the music on a mono record player in the living room. One day I came home and there was incredible sound coming from our family room. Oh my God! My parents went out and bought a stereo! Now we could hear all things we were missing on the mono record player which only had a single four inch speaker.
The Grateful Dead sounded great on this stereo, I had rules about volume and how much time I was allowed to play it. My Dad did like some of the Grateful Dead music, he used to walk around singing Tennessee Jed as he liked the music Jerry Garcia had written for it and the lyrics that Robert Hunter had written to tell the story. Most of The Grateful Dead’s songs were stories, about half were written by the team of Hunter/Garcia. Jerry sang most of these songs and these were generally my favorites.
In their shows and on live albums songs would flow into one another. The Grateful Dead did not plan what they were going to do or play on stage, they just wanted to see where the mood and night took them. I was at the Englishtown, NJ show in 1977, after they played what we thought was the encore, Bob Weir said to the crowd who was leaving, where are you going, we want to play something from our new album. And they played Terrapin – the whole thing – Terrapin on the album is one whole side. It is a masterpiece of lyrics and music, in the song Robert Hunter’s lyrics, tell some stories and actually talks about the story teller in the lyrics. My brother-in-law says it is The Grateful Dead’s best work and I would have to say it is an overlooked gem. Most people know Truckin’ or Friend of the Devil – The Grateful Dead had so much material over the thirty plus years. This is a piece of music worth looking up.
If you like music, I suggest that you track Terrapin down and give it a listen. The music is magical, the lyrics are superb, you, will not be disappointed. You may be able to borrow it from your local library. You could order it on ebay or Amazon. However you do it, it is a stellar piece of music from this “Band Beyond Description”.
Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia were both very well read and there is an annotated page detailing references in this song at The Annotated “Terrapin Station” by David Dodd. http://arts.ucsc.edu/GDead/aGDL/terr.html
Get Terrapin Station Medley when you purchase the album Terrapin Station. Preview it here: