Per IMDb: “The tale of the Grateful Dead is inspiring, complicated, and downright messy. A tribe of contrarians, they made art out of open-ended chaos and inadvertently achieved success on their own terms. Never-before-seen footage and interviews offer this unprecedented and unvarnished look at the life of the Dead.”
On The Less Desirables, I’m going to let Danielle help me talk about the film since it was her request for me to watch this and the Dead is her favorite band. However, here, I’ll talk about it a bit. This will be brief.
I’ve never liked the Grateful Dead. One, I don’t like jam bands and, two, I don’t generally like the blues-based hippie rock. After seeing this film (broken into six episodes on Amazon), I will say that I found that I could tolerate a bit more of the film than I previously thought I could. Some of it I’d even say that I liked. I’ve never had a problem with “Uncle John’s Band,” “Truckin'” or “Casey Jones.” But, a lot of the other stuff I’ve had to learn to tolerate. This helped a little.
However, what I did gain from this was a lot of respect for Jerry Garcia and what the band went through. Also, I think it was touched on in the film but the phenomenon of “deadheads” actually took over and in some ways overshadowed the talent these musicians had. I believe it’s possible that, like Lynyrd Skynyrd, the actual talent of the band is overshadowed by the sometimes annoying, yet always rabid, fan base. The musicians that make up this band are immensely talented, something I think isn’t obvious in their “jam sessions.” I don’t like jam sessions because I like ensemble pieces not a lot of different solos. It’s one thing in a set for someone to do that, once per person, if need be, but not in every song. I start tuning it out after a while. Also, on studio albums, I think Jerry Garcia can actually sing. Live, it’s shaky. I know that’s not the “spirit of rock and roll” but the spirit of my rock and roll is more polished. And, my spirit kicks your spirit’s butt! I kid.
While the band wasn’t the Jerry Garcia Band, I believe that most of the world saw it as such, but as the documentary showed, Garcia didn’t want any leaders, at least not in the actual sense. Whoever needed to be in charge at any given time was in charge. The film focused on him and I believe it was about him, but that’s not necessarily the overall view of the band or even him at the time. I think the fans see it as Jerry’s band, mostly.
A song that I found that I liked included “Morning Dew.” Hearing the story of that and the truck engineer and how it made him weep was a sweet story. I am listening to the song right now as I write this. I’m listening to the Cornell University show from 1977. It’s just sincere and is an intimate song. I don’t know that I’d listen a whole lot but, Danielle, at least I gave it a shot, right?
Rotten Tomatoes has the film at 100% Fresh and an Audience Score of 92%. IMDb has it at 8.3 stars out of 10. As it is an Amazon original, I watched it on Amazon, all at once. All 238 minutes of it, not starting until about 10:15 pm on Tuesday night. Don’t let the length fool you. I’m not a fan of The Grateful Dead but I do love band and musician documentaries. For what this is and its quality, I am rating it 4.5 stars out of 5. Have you seen it? What did you think? What would you like to hear/read me review?
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“The situation is the boss.” – Steve Parish