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Album: American BeautyReleased: 1970Charted:
The '60s was a time for traveling and discovering your place in the world. Sometimes what you found was an empty existence that just keeps repeating itself day to day. Having to deal with everyday life when you were always waiting for some kind of revelation to expand your consciousness was often depressing. The Grateful Dead sang of acceptance of banality and the drive to continue their search for epiphany.
One verse in particular: "What in the world ever became of sweet Jane, she lost her sparkle. Well you know she isn't the same. Living on reds, vitamin C and cocaine? All a friend can say is ain't it a shame." seems to refer to the endless desperation that overtakes some people. They turn to drugs to provide meaning in their lives. This of course fails and spirals their lives into deeper depression. Drugs are for enhancing a good time spent with good friends. They cannot provide answers to the meaning of life. The previous verse speaks to commonplace usage and the consequences of accepting illegal activities as a normal part of your life. You often get "busted" by the police.
Grateful Dead members Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir are the credited writers on this track along with their lyricist Robert Hunter.
The line, "Busted, down on Bourbon Street" refers to an incident on January 31, 1970 when members of the band were arrested in a drug bust that netted 19 people in New Orleans. The group was in town to play two shows at a club called the Warehouse, and the raid happened the morning after their first show at the French Quarter hotel where they were staying. Lesh, Weir and drummer Bill Kreutzmann were all arrested along with crew members and fans of the band who had joined them at the hotel.
The story made the front page of the New Orleans Times-Picayune the next day, and drew national attention, with Rolling Stone running an article on the incident. Owsley Stanley, a Dead associate known for his pioneering work with LSD, was also arrested and labeled the "King of Acid" in the Times-Picayune piece. According to the Rolling Stone article, the band paid for bail and legal fees for all 19 arrested.