For the love of rock
Vol V, Issue 5 – Ripple (01 May 2020)
Name of song– Ripple
Band– Grateful Dead
Writers– Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter
Release year– 1970
Album – American Beauty
“Grateful Dead”, considered the pioneering Godfathers of jam band world, is undoubtedly more than a rock band. An eccentric band with fusion of rock, folk, country, jazz, gospel, blues, psychedelia, blue grass, they were a group known for their amazing music, amazing fanbase “Deadheads” and amazing live jams with amazing improvisations. Rightly quoted, they touched on grounds which most bands didn’t know even existed. With more than 35 million record sales to their credit, they were ranked 57th by The Rolling Stone magazine’s “Greatest Artists of All Time.”
Grateful Dead originated in 1965 from San Francisco, USA as remnants of “Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions” and further “Warlocks.” Formed by Jerry Garcia (lead guitars, vocals) along with Bob Weir (rhythm guitar, vocals), Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (keyboards, harmonica, vocals), Phil Lesh (bass, vocals), and Bill Kreutzmann (drums), the band continued solid till death of Garcia in 1995, although the surviving members do continue to play music.
They were the pioneers in playing live music and have held the world record of playing a greater number of concerts than any other band. They are credited with more than 2300 concerts during their career!! With their amazing improvisations in live shows, they have never played any song the same way twice. So much so that, it is believed they never rehearsed any concerts and always played spontaneously. There concerts were also famous for their amazing “Wall of Sound”, which was an enormous public address system, built specifically for them and was the largest concert sound system at that time.
“Grateful Dead” were undoubtedly a live band but their studio works can also never be undermined. After their earlier studio albums did not do so well, they had two wonderful studio materials in 1970. “Workingman’s Dead” and “American Beauty” are definitely some of the albums for which they are remembered most. “American Beauty” followed the folk and country roots of the predecessor “Workingman’s Dead.” The album has one of their most well known numbers and their best hits. An amazingly soothing album with mostly acoustic materials, it is a priceless treasure for any rock fan.
“Ripple” is one of the best numbers from the album. A song of master craft work by Jerry Garcia, this is one number which can always be a panacea all the times. Written by Robert Hunter and Garcia, the surreal lyrics is subject to interpretation forever. A totally blissful song with heavenly words, voice and music, this is perhaps the most priceless treasure from “Grateful Dead.”
In retrospective analysis, there is nothing that can be done to improve this song. Perhaps, this was the reason why the song was not their favorite one during live shows. It just could not be improved upon. Garcia’s vocals and lead guitar are definitely out of the world. Guest artist David Grisman’s mandolin during the main chorus is exceptionally fantastic as well as catchy. Bob Weir’s rhythm guitar, Phil Lesh’ bass as well as Bill Kreutzmann’s drums all contribute equally to make the song a masterpiece. And the chorus la lala at the last part is left for the listener’s imagination. The most striking part is definitely the lyrics, which is subtle, profoundly mysterious as well as seductively sentimental.
Yes, “Grateful Dead” have given numerous treasures to the “Deadheads” all along their career, but when it comes to choosing any one, “Ripple” would definitely be one of them. Do enjoy “Ripple” without any ripples in your mind and soul!!!
Resources- Wikipedia.org, allmusic.com
Video link- https://youtu.be/5b_jLBOyUYw