By Jim Fusco:
Well, as promised, I’m back with your Wednesday edition of Jim Fusco Tuesdays! Don’t understand that? Then you should be visiting the blog more often! 🙂 Tuesdays are my usual day to post, but unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera last night, so I had to put-off doing the video until today. I also recorded another video for next week that you’re going to LOVE. It’s from a guy you probably haven’t heard of, but he’s new to the blog and he’s a well-respected musician. I guess you’ll have to wait in suspense until then!
I can’t believe it- this blog has been up for well over two years and there hasn’t been a Grateful Dead song done yet! Late last year, I decided that I wanted to learn more about the Grateful Dead. Back in high school and early college, I used to work at the now defunct Cheshire Video and Disc (a local video store). I used to work with this hippy girl named Karen. She was cool- we used to work on Sunday mornings together and always had a nice time. She used to play this Grateful Dead VHS tape during our shift every week. It was from the 80’s. It was a trippy kind of concert- crazy 80’s video effects and extended drum solos. But, I really enjoyed the songs.
Fast-forward about seven years to the present-day. I finally got my Grateful Dead “Best Of” for Christmas from my mother in law and I was so excited to play it for the first time. My boss had re-ignited my interest for the band, as he put a few of their songs on a mix CD for me. So, I got the CD and played it at work for the first time. I LOVED IT!!
It’s 17 songs and, believe me, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better overall “Best Of”. It has all of my favorite elements: harmonies, good guitar, everyone plays their own instruments, and (my personal favorite) multiple band members writing songs!! Actually, my favorite song on the whole “Best Of” CD (which I will definitely cover in the future) is “Box Of Rain”, written by bassist Phil Lesh. (On another note, I hear he and former Dead member Bob Weir are now touring as “Furthur”, but the show in my hometown of Wallingford, CT is SOLD OUT! Grrr….)
Anyway, there are so many great songs on this disc- from the ones you’ve heard of (and probably didn’t know they did them) like “Truckin'”, “Casey Jones”, and “Touch of Grey” to the ones that you haven’t heard of yet, this is a top-to-bottom rare “Best Of” find. The last times I felt this great about a “Best Of” was when I purchased the America and Doobie Brothers’ discs. So, what I’m saying is, if you haven’t purchased the Grateful Dead “Best Of” (the one with 17 tracks- NOT the cheap 10-track version), then you should really give it a try.
Tonight’s song is “Friend of the Devil”. At first, this wasn’t one of my favorites, but it’s catchy and the story is pretty cool, so it grew on me quickly. I love singing it in that Jerry Garcia drawl. Plus, this was an easy one to convert to acoustic. Most of their songs aren’t so easy because of their great harmonies. I’ve wanted to do so many of their songs, but it just won’t sound right without someone else singing with me (who knows the song really well, too).
So, whatever idea you had of the Dead (I thought it was just a stupid stoner band that jammed nonsensical songs for hours on end…which may be true for the live sets, as I’ve heard), throw it away! They’re a tight band that last quite a while and came up with some great songs. And now I’m even more excited that I can build my vinyl record collection with some of their interesting albums, such as their lone 60’s record (from 1967, which I’m INCREDIBLY interested in hearing) and their all-time classic from 1970, American Beauty.
Enjoy tonight’s LSHD video and make sure to come back next week for my newest obsession in music!