John Swansburg

Slate Presents: What Your Favorite Grateful Dead Song Says About You

As I’m occasionally forced to point out to the otherwise-savvy HTMLGiant readership, the Grateful Dead are awesome, and anyone who doesn’t understand that should be put to shame. (Some people don’t understand why they’re awesome, which is a different story; you should ask me to explain it to you some time.) Today, Slate helps us celebrate the band’s much-belated laureling by having John Swansburg offer a run-down of what your favorite GD tune says about who you are, and what your corresponding yearbook quote is/was/will be. Here are a few of my favorites. Click through anywhere for the full article.

“Wharf Rat”: Back when you were in grad school at Cornell finishing up the coursework for your literature Ph.D., you had this great riff about how the structure of “Wharf Rat” mimicked that of Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”—an unreliable narrator relaying a tragic tale through a second, ostensibly reliable narrative voice. At this point, your buddies typically ducked out, ostensibly to pick up another sixer of Genesee.

Yearbook quote: “I got no dime, but I got time to hear his story.”

“Looks Like Rain”: You’re a girl. You fell in love with Bob Weir the first time you saw him at the Fillmore East—the rakish good looks, the adequate rhythm-guitar playing. You find the bad-cowboy Weir of “Me and My Uncle” very sexy, but it’s the lovelorn Weir of “LLR” who swept you off your Birkenstocked feet. “I’ll still sing you love songs, written in the letters of your name” is just about the most romantic lyric you can imagine, and you’re pretty sure that at the Salt Lake City show in ’73, Bob was looking right at you when he sang it. Alas, such a love song would be all but impossible to compose, your name being Zelda Quinn.

Yearbook quote: “My landscape would be empty if you were gone.”

“Truckin’ “: You’re a poser. Sorry, but you are.

Yearbook quote: “What a long strange trip it’s been.”

It should go without saying, but you are all heartily encouraged to name your own favorite Grateful Dead songs, and corresponding descriptions and quotes, in the comments thread. Mine is probably their cover of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away.”

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April 29th, 2009 / 12:51 pm