How exactly are Grateful dead 'psychedelic'?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by holyroller, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. HonestDenver

    HonestDenver Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver

    Love your passion and that you were so inspired by the OP to come in and write this. HOWEVER, from someone who has never done any psychedelics I am frankly appalled that you would say us non mind altering folk can't truly understand what the Dead were about. I love the analogy of being 2 bands at once for 2 different audiences, but maybe my brain is wired different than most folks, I cannot imagine the music being BETTER. Perhaps I'm missing out. Perhaps I'll try it one day. But don't feel that you need to do it to enjoy anything in life. Including Grateful Dead. Just thought this came off a little condescending towards non drug taking folks. Like we're somehow not able to get it. But I do get it, so I don't get how I could get it anymore than I got it.
     
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  2. 131east23

    131east23 Person of Interest

    Yep. Like you, the only drug I need is the music. I'm the guy that always drove everyone to the concert because we all knew I was going to remain 'sober' yet get drunk and high to the music. Most of my friends can't remember being to most of the shows we saw together.
     
  3. Deadhead Dave

    Deadhead Dave Well-Known Member

    Location:
    California
    This post is comedy. A serious, yet utterly hilarious question.

    clearly, a lot of people who can very easily answer it. Lol. Pssssst…. You are the ones most off the mark. Lol. “They were psychedelic early on and then moved on…”. Lol. Yeah…. Evolved and evolved and evolved.

    …by certain of this: They were psychedelic every single bit of their existence. 1968, 1972, 1977, 1984, 1991 and yes, even 1995. AND EVERY SINGLE SECOND in between.

    you can allude that their normal sound doesn’t qualify as psychedelic all you want sitting there typing away all you want. But trust me, not only are they real deal, it’s super upper level majesty real deal.

    But I can’t tell you HOW they do it. That’s for damn sure. Right when I think I’ve figured it out it just slips away.
     
  4. Rose River Bear

    Rose River Bear Senior Member

    I agree although I must admit to listening to the Dead under the influence. It does enhance the weirdness somewhat.
    Anyway, you don't need to be under the influence to hear the psychedelic qualities in this song.
     
  5. Deadhead Dave

    Deadhead Dave Well-Known Member

    Location:
    California
    Not intended as condescending at all….

    But I stand my ground. It’s like never having tasted chocolate but having heard about its taste and seen the smiles of those who have tried it and been around it and maybe even held a Hershey bar in your hand. If you haven’t tried chocolate you don’t know what it tastes like. But… you certainly are able to get that it tastes good, I would guess.

    do or do not, there is no try.
     
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  6. PoetDan53

    PoetDan53 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    They were a pop band.
     
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  7. mbg

    mbg Forum Resident

    Location:
    Michigan
    Psych as a defined genre is something I have never completely understood.

    I worked with a guy, we were both into collecting records, he was really into digging for obscure ‘psych’ stuff as he called it. He would stream some of this stuff and to me it was like a caricature of what people think psychedelic is supposed to mean. Musically it wasn’t awful or anything but in the context of an actual psychedelic experience, it seemed real f’ing cheesy to me.

    And that’s the rub and why defining music as ‘psych’ doesn’t work for me.

    Psychedelic is far too amorphous of an experience to be strictly defined. It’s emotional. It’s psychological. It’s physical. It’s visual. It’s auditory. It’s immersive yet individual. It’s by its very nature ethereal and unexplainable.

    The one thing it’s not, in my opinion only of course, is a cohesive musical genre.

    The thing about the Grateful Dead is that regardless of whether a specific song or album has a psychedelic vibe is almost irrelevant. What they provided was access to an environment often conducive to a psychedelic experience whether one chose to partake in enhancing compounds or not.

    I would never suggest someone needs to take LSD to enjoy or understand any band.

    But I firmly believe one cannot understand what the word psychedelic means without having first hand experience.

    Trying to debate if the GD is psychedelic or not is kinda pointless.

    As the saying about them goes:


    “They aren’t the best at what they do, they are the only ones that do what they do”

     
  8. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    When the term psychedelic was first gaining popularity there were a lot of acts and artists whose music might not, to latter day ears, be considered 'psych' within the cliche meaning of the term thats popular now. Jim Kweskins Jug Band, The Charlatans and Kaleidoscope (the US bands), The Lovin Spoonful, and so on. I hear it - but to others these may be too rootsy or folky. One of my (our) favorite 'psych' albums is John Renbourn's Lady & The Unicorn. Listening to it you can take an ethereal journey to another place & time. Thats what the psychedelic experience is all about.
     
    Gratefully Deadicated likes this.
  9. posnera

    posnera Forum Resident

    I've often thought about the Dead's special brand of juxtaposition, which I think is inherently psychedelic. Even without mind altering substances, the careful listener will hear just how wild their "straight" tunes often became.
    They made a deliberate choice to combine different styles of music in their performances, with a little something for everybody. Want to get weird, that's there. Want to dance to Sugar Magnolia, they've got that too.

    If a 1969 Dark Star (playing now) isn't psychedelic, then nothing is. But taking some truly lysergic lyrics (China Cat Sunflower) and pairing them with an old folk tune (I Know You Rider) serves to take the listener out of their normal headspace and into another. The Veneta 72 transition from Dark Star into El Paso is another obvious example. There isn't anything inherently psychedelic about El Paso but the entire context needs to be taken into consideration.

    I'll leave you with this album cover, which someone else on this forum once described as the most psychedelic thing the Grateful Dead ever did:

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Rose River Bear

    Rose River Bear Senior Member

    Even listening to this song sober as a judge, here is why it sounds "psychedelic" to me.
    The Intro from 0:00 to :25 is played freely and sounds like it floats. Sense of time is blurred.
    The verse comes in with a quick rise in tempo and dynamics and is unexpected and highly contrasting to the intro.
    At :47 the band once again plays somewhat freely. A subtle theme is heard but is ambiguous.
    At 1:10 another tempo change. The bass plays a mechanical sounding line that is a big contrast to most of the song....like a clock ticking.
    At 1:22 a highly contrasting bridge enters. It rises up at 2:18.
    A guitar theme in harmony enters. It is a variation on the theme first heard at :47......it messes with your head and you think you heard it before but it is hard to tell.
    The verse proper finally returns and the song returns to normal until the crazy outro at 3:48. Instruments dart in and out at times sounding chaotic and out of control.

    I realize this is all subjective but this is why the song sounds psychedelic to me. Many of their studio songs are not psychedelic to me though.
     
  11. Deadhead Dave

    Deadhead Dave Well-Known Member

    Location:
    California
    Hell, I always thought half the fun was how blindingly psychedelic they could be while chugging through something like Tennessee Jed.
     
    Charlie Z. likes this.
  12. 131east23

    131east23 Person of Interest

    LOL...
     
  13. dsdu

    dsdu less serious minor pest

    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Especially if you don't remember.
     
  14. dsdu

    dsdu less serious minor pest

    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Not trying to be condescending, but it's indescribably different without the I.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2022
  15. jonnyhambone

    jonnyhambone Forum Resident

    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    They basically invented the experience of psychedelic music. Their job was to take a ton of acid and provide a soundtrack to an evening of tripping at the Acid Tests. Everything about their music was a largely improvisational response to the lysergic experience.
    How exactly were Funkadelic funky?
    How exactly were Metallica metal?
     
  16. Roanoke Park Indefinitely

    Roanoke Park Indefinitely Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Is there a rule here against not reading long threads before you just answer the OP on them? If so, I'm about to be incredibly guilty.

    The Dead began life as not just a psychedelic band, but THE psychedelic band. They homegrew out of the San Francisco Haight scene, mingled with the beat crew like Neal Cassady and Ken Kesey, and created some FIERY psychedelic blues rock from 1967 - 1970. It's probably been said upthread, but they were contemporaries of the Velvet Underground actually (both bands were called the Warlocks at the outset) and were something of a west coast version, playing as the backing band during acid tests, which were connected to the proliferation of LSD in America at that time. People were partying, etc, and the Dead were just jamming longform in the background. Jerry Garcia in particular was a distorted guitar GOD. He had a fierce, shrieking psychedelic tone and would lead the band into longform decompositions that ended in feedback and noise. The band's 2nd album, "Anthem of the Sun" from 1968, is probably the definitive psychedelic artsy statement as far as the style of American psych goes.

    In 1970, they begin to pivot to a rootsier and folkier sound, which is where they ultimately stationed themselves. Fans argue to THIS VERY DAY on THESE VERY BOARDS about the psychedelic nature of their post-70 music, but the band's reputation as a psychedelic rock band comes from the late 60s dawning into the first half of 1970.
     
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  17. hallucalation

    hallucalation Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nowhere Man
    I really love those innocent garage 1966 live/rehearsals by Dead. Most of deadheads ignores them completely.
     
  18. Roanoke Park Indefinitely

    Roanoke Park Indefinitely Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Dick's Picks 22 is a good example of the psychedelic origin of the band, better than a lot of the studio cuts could convey.
     
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  19. hallucalation

    hallucalation Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nowhere Man


    That's to me is the best Dead live recording. Garcia never played that fiery in any other 66-67 tapes i heard. Dead vault guys say it's first recorded Dead live tape but it's not.. There's others that precedes them.
     
  20. tonyballz

    tonyballz Roogalator

    Location:
    arizona
    The Grateful Dead are psychedelic in that their live shows were rooted in the communal LSD experience. The term "psychedelic music" doesn't necessarily mean a certain style, more an attitude.

    Let's compare it to punk. To most folks the term "punk rock" connotes simplistic three chord rock & roll with sneering vocals, such as the Sex Pistols or Ramones. But a band like Television is considered punk even though their music is more complex than the Pistols or Ramones. They don't fit the stereotype. What they share is a common attitude, a D.I.Y. aesthetic.

    So the Dead are a psychedelic band even though many of their songs don't fit the stereotype of "trippy" music like Pink Floyd. Anyone who has seen the Dead live can attest that their shows are a psychedelic experience.

    And yes, for proof of the band's psychedelic roots listen to Anthem Of The Sun, Aoxomoxoa or Live/Dead.
     
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  21. FranzD

    FranzD Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austria
    Unique? Well, the Band exactly did that. Without improvising, of course.
     
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  22. Moonbeam Skies

    Moonbeam Skies Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    To my ears the 1971 remix of What's Become of the Baby rendered the track more psychedelic.
     
  23. FranzD

    FranzD Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austria
    Also in an almost anti-psychedelic way. Different drugs...
     
  24. Vic_1957

    Vic_1957 Forum Resident

    Location:
    NJ, USA
    No quote from anyone describes The Grateful Dead better than that Bill Graham quote. :agree:
     
  25. notesfrom

    notesfrom Forum Resident

    Location:
    NC USA
    Don't know, man...
     
    Crimson Witch likes this.

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