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Sugaree by Grateful Dead

Album: GarciaReleased: 1972
  • "Sugaree" is the stand-out song from the Garcia album, and it's kind of confusing where to list it. Warner Bros. Records, at the time, sponsored solo albums by all of the Dead at the time; so along with Garcia we have Bob Weir's Ace and Mickey Hart's Rolling Thunder. On the solo effort side, Garcia played every instrument except the drums on the entire album, and did at least half of the writing as well. On the other hand - who are we kidding? - this is Jerry Garcia we're talking about, and six of the tracks from this album eventually became Grateful Dead concert standards. Oh, heck, call it a Grateful Dead song, Jerry wouldn't mind.

    Speaking of almost-but-not-quite Grateful Dead albums, Jerry's immediately previous work to this album was New Riders of the Purple Sage, with Mickey Hart, and co-starring Commander Cody (as in Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen) of "Hot Rod Lincoln" fame. Just thought we'd throw it in!

    Other albums this song appears on are One from the Vault and Dick's Picks Volume 3. "Sugaree" was even used in the 1996 promotion sampler A Glimpse of the Vault.
  • We can't describe this song much better than the NME, who in 1976 wrote that it "rocks over the dust with the controlled menace of a swaying rattlesnake. By not quite pulling out the stops Garcia leaves the song ambiguity like the dealer with all the best cards, ace high stacked against his chest: 'If that jubilee don't come, maybe I'll meet you on the run. The counterpoint of Robert Hunter's words and the gentle handling of the coda, Phil Lesh providing simple but effectively raw bass lines, is a high spot demon trump." (This and many more great articles are at Rock's Backpages.)
  • Like many music geeks, you've probably asked, "What did Janis Joplin say when she first heard of the Grateful Dead?" Well, in Love, Janis, Laura Joplin's memoir of her famous sister, in a letter dated June 1966, Janis (fresh from traveling from Austin, Texas to San Francisco, California) wrote, "This kind of music is different than I'm used to. Oh, and I've collected more bizarre names of groups to send - (can you believe these?) - The Grateful Dead, The Love, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Leaves, The Grass Roots." Later on in this same letter, she has occasion to bring up the Dead again and then comments "With a name like that, they have to be good."
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Comments: 2

No, he wasn't but the Commander played piano on the "NRPS" album on "Dirty Business" and "Last Lonely Eagle". Micky Hart sat in on some drum songs and Jerry played pedal steel for the short time he was with NRPSCheryl - Linden, , Nj
Commander Cody was never in the New RidersKarl - Fairfield, Pa