A Season of Songs, day 12: Box of Rain

A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring.  I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up.  I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever.  Enjoy!

Ok, I think this should take care of all of the Dead bands on my iPod at this point.  We’ve had Dead Kennedys and Dead Milkmen – today we get The Grateful Dead with the song “Box of Rain” from the 1970 album “American Beauty”.

Such a long long time to be gone
and a short time to be there

Like many late-80’s/early 90’s high school students, I had a brief run-in with a resurging hippie culture.  I wouldn’t say that I ever went full-in, but I had some tie-dyes, some beads, and a few Grateful Dead cassettes.  Once I got my first car, I put some Grateful Dead stickers in the windows.  My friend Todd and I would go up to the weird record store (can’t remember its name) up past the Richland Mall on 309 where we would check out the tapes (and eventually CD’s), get more Grateful Dead stickers for our cars and I seem to recall buying some crystal necklace thing there too.  It was all groovy and I’m kinda surprised that I’m admitting to all of this on the internet.

As a Grateful Dead fan, I was  mostly a poser.  I think I only actually owned two of their albums – “Skull and Roses” and “Skeletons from the Closer” – a damn “best of” compilation.  Pitiful.

Eventually I would head off to college and get into punk rock and largely disown the Dead for a number of years.  In recent years I’ve given them another chance.  I think this is largely influenced by my hippie in-laws, but I think it also just is me being more open about re-visiting musicians and records I had long written off.

But my father-in-law is definitely the reason that “American Beauty” ended up on the ipod.  He is one of those guys who just likes to pick up the guitar and play a little whenever we are gathered around (and most certainly even when we are not gathered around).  With the advent of the internet in his life, he has been able to learn more and more songs since the tabs are so readily available.  A couple years back he learned “Ripple” off this album, a track I had previously had been unfamiliar with.  He played it for me and I enjoyed it, so I went ahead and downloaded the album to my collection.

I don’t really care much for “Box of Rain”.  Not a bad song, but certainly seems not the best option to open the album.  This album has those other few classics (meaning they show up on the Greatest Hits that I had) — Sugar Magnolia, Truckin’, and Friend of the Devil.  If you’re looking to give the Dead another shot and want some of their simple folky tunes (without getting into their weirder shit), “American Beauty” seems like a fine place to start.


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