Music on Acid

My favorite group of all time is the Grateful Dead, who were known for their own brand of electronic weirdness.  The Grateful Dead were stereotyped as hippies going all the way back to the Summer of Love (a social phenomenon that occurred during the summer of 1967).  The Dead started out as the Warlocks and they debuted in July 1965 with Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan and Bill Kreutzmann.  They soon became the house band at Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests, a series of public LSD parties and multimedia events held before the drug had been outlawed.  The LSD chemist Owsley Stanley bankrolled the Grateful Dead and later supervised the construction of the band’s massive, state-of-the-art sound system.  The name Grateful Dead comes from an Egyptian prayer that Garcia spotted in a dictionary.

From the 1960s until the 1995 death of guitarist, singer-songwriter Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead played roughly 2,300 long, freeform concerts that touched down on their own country-, blues and folk –tinged songs, and on a similarly wide range of cover versions.  Along the way, they popularized the concept of the jam band, influencing thousands of songwriters and basement improvisers and earning themselves maybe the most loyal fans a rock band have ever had.  The Grateful Dead remains one of the most innovative and tech-savvy bands in pop history.  Long before it became necessary (or cool) to do so, the band embraced a DIY ethos in everything from manufacturing its own gear to publishing its own music to fostering a decentralized music distribution system.  The Dead’s obsession with technology was almost inseparable from the band’s psychedelic ambition and artistic independence.  A song that they recorded titled, ‘The Other One’ may be the best musical description of LSD that was ever conceived.

This song is about an American novelist Ken Kesey, who was caught in a generation gap of not being old enough to be a beatnik, but being a little too old to be a hippie.  Kesey was a link between the beatnik generation and the hippies and he purchased a bus and then he took a trip with his Merry Prankster’s to rediscover America.  Author Ken Kesey became involved in a government drug research program for a period of several weeks, where he ingested many hallucinogens and other narcotics and from his drug-induced experiences he wrote his novel ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’.

The Merry Pranksters openly used psychoactive drugs, they wore outrageous attire, performed bizarre acts of street theater, and engaged in peaceful confrontation with not only the laws of conformity, but also with the mores of conventionality.  They traveled from California to New York in 1964 for the publication of Kesey’s novel, ‘Sometimes a Great Notion’.  Neal Cassady a leader of the psychedelic and counterculture movement drove the famous Further bus (1939 International Harvester school bus) while high on speed, driving for three days straight at one point, stopping only for gas.  The bus was painted in swirls of day-glo paint (fluorescent colors used as symbols of youth, action, and optimism) and it also contained a cooler of orange juice laced with LSD.  The trip was seen as the launching point of the psychedelic era and it is documented in Tom Wolfe’s book ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.’

The lyrics, “But the heat came ’round and busted me for smiling on a cloudy day”, refers to Bob Weir being arrested for smiling at a cop after he was hit with a water balloon.  The Other One was named after my good friend Fandango, who is also known as This, That, and The Other, sorry I was just teasing.  It is a complex song that goes through a series of four movements called ‘Cryptical Envelopment’, ‘Quadlibet For Tender Feet’, ‘The Faster We Go The Rounder We Get’ and ‘We Leave The Castle’. ‘That’s It For The Other One’ was the first track on the Grateful Dead’s second album titled, ‘Anthem Of The Sun’ and this was their first album to feature their second drummer Mickey Hart.  The words and music are by Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and Bill Kreutzmann, although Robert Hunter wrote most of the lyrics for the Dead.  I found the lyrics listed on Google Play.

That’s It For The Other One

The other day they waited, the sky was dark and faded,
Solemnly they stated, “he has to die, you know he has to die.”
All the children learnin’, from books that they were burnin’,
Every leaf was turnin’; to watch him die, you know he had to die.
The summer sun looked down on him, his mother could but frown on him,
And all the others sound on him, but it doesn’t seem to matter.
And when the day had ended, with rainbow colors blended,
His mind remained unbended, he had to die, you know he had to die.

Spanish lady come to me, she lays on me this rose
It rainbow spirals round and round, it trembles and explodes
It left a smoking crater of my mind I like to blow away
But the heat came round and busted me for smiling on a cloudy day

Coming, coming, coming around
Coming around, coming around, in a circle
Coming, coming, coming around
Coming around, coming around, in a circle

Escaping through the lily fields, I came across an empty space
It trembled and exploded, left a bus stop in its place
The bus came by and I got on, that’s when it all began
There was Cowboy Neal at the wheel of the bus to never ever land

Coming, coming, coming around
Coming around, coming around, in a circle
Coming, coming, coming around
Coming around, coming around, in a circle

And when the day had ended, with rainbow colors blended,
Their minds remained unbended,
He had to die, oh, you know he had to die.

Song Lyric Sunday Theme for 8/27/17 by Helen Vahdati where the theme is heat.

9 thoughts on “Music on Acid

  1. Another Grateful Dead lover! Between the two of you, I just might hear all their music and eventually become a fan. Haha. I love the story-telling aspect of this song. Thanks so much for sharing and for playing along. It’s always fun for me to have new followers!

    Liked by 1 person

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