What is the sound of thick air? This question is the koan at the chewy center of Anthem of the Sun, a sprawling psychedelic clusterf*ck originally released in July of 1968. According to legend, a young Bob Weir asked producer David Hassinger for this mysterious sound, which led to him quitting the project. Four studios and a mountain of spliced live reels later, and the Grateful Dead had their album. Well, a version of it, anyway. The band would go back and remix the record in 1972, in an attempt to make it more relatable to newer fans turned on to the then-recent Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty. But once you’ve “mixed it for the hallucinations,” it’s hard to get them out. Regardless of the edition, Anthem remains one of the Dead’s trippiest studio efforts—an awkward, insistent, and often thrilling record that sees the band at the peak of their lysergic powers. Or perhaps peak confusion. In this episode, we’ll consider the merits of Anthem of the Sun with a nod to the band’s rapid evolution. So climb on board as Captain Trips sets the controls for the heart of the Sun.
For Season Two of Dead To Me, we’re taking a deep dive into the Grateful Dead’s studio albums. Or more specifically, we’re considering the original published sources of classic Dead repertoire. This distinction is important because not all of those tunes saw their initial appearance on official Dead records. Some, in fact, arrived on individual band members’ solo releases (which tended to feature contributions from many—if not all—core personnel). In addition to staples like American Beauty, Terrapin Station, From the Mars Hotel, Workingman’s Dead, and Anthem of the Sun, we’ll also cover Jerry's debut, Garcia, Bob Weir’s Ace, and Mickey Hart’s Rolling Thunder, along with—gasp!—official live releases that “substituted” for studio recordings (Skull and Roses, for example). We’re excited to explore the history and cultural context of these crucial audio artifacts. But most of all, we're psyched to riff on the music itself. Let’s start at the beginning with San Francisco’s Grateful Dead—a scruffy slice of pop-r&b with unmistakably psychedelic overtones that landed in March of 1967. Press play and get this trip underway!
Some people have photographic memories. The rest of us have photographs. Well, that and music. Put the two together, and you don’t even need a souped-up DeLorean to travel time. Our final episode of Season One considers the photographic history of the Grateful Dead, but of course we talk about a lot more. Our special guest, Rosie McGee, was part of the Dead family going back to the first Acid Tests. Her photographic memoir, Dancing with the Dead, is a powerful recounting of an era that continues to fascinate and inspire. Rosie’s candid and intimate shots offer insights into a musical and social scene whose ripples are felt to this day, and her personal reminiscences are amusing, frank, and always spirited. Casey and Eduardo talk about how our memories are influenced by sound and image, and the tricks that time can play on the mind. Feed Your Head profiles another legendary shutterbug, Jay Blakesberg. See you next season!