I’m sad that I nev­er saw the Grate­ful Dead live; they’ve left marks on the col­lec­tive mu­si­cal con­scious­ness that will be there as long as such a thing ex­ist­s. But Blues For Al­lah is my fa­vorite of their stu­dio record­ings, and Crazy Fingers by a wide mar­gin the best song there.

Blues For Allah

That’s a pho­to of my own per­son­al copy of the record. Man, that’s some re­al­ly old card­board and vinyl.

Now, I’m prej­u­diced, Crazy Fingers pro­vid­ed back­ground for one or two very spe­cial mo­ments in my youth, not the kind of thing I can share, but there’s a warm glow and a smile in­side ev­ery time I hear that tune. Even with­out the glow it’s bril­liant: Shift­ing rhythm­s, lilt­ing melody, and fab­u­lous pro­duc­tion.

Speak­ing of that pro­duc­tion, in check­ing out the tune for this piece I learned that Blues For Al­lah was unique in the Dead oeu­vre in that the songs were com­posed at and be­fore the record­ing ses­sion, rather than hav­ing been worked out first on the road. Based on the re­sult­s, maybe they should have done that more of­ten. Now, it’s fair to say that some of the swoony desert sound­scapes haven’t aged that well, but it’s al­so true that Crazy Fingers isn’t the on­ly re­al­ly cool song on the record.

Your rain falls like crazy fin­gers / Peals of frag­ile thun­der, keep­ing time… Aaaah.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. This tune on Spo­ti­fy, iTunes, Ama­zon. Now, a lot of Dead songs work best live, and there’s video of ba­si­cal­ly ev­ery one of them out there, but the live takes of this one just didn’t work for me, I missed the spooky back­ing track and lay­ered voic­es on the record­ing.


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From: dubek (Jun 09 2018, at 22:25)

For many deadheads opinions on live versions, see http://headyversion.com/song/61/grateful-dead/crazy-fingers/ (many shows available for listening via archive.org).


From: len (Jul 27 2018, at 20:11)

I saw the Dead at the University of Alabama. A very loose performance for the first thirty minutes, then they would find their groove, settle in and drive the audience to ecstasy. The drugs helped.

My mid 70s band covered most of Blues for Allah. T'ain't easy. It is their best studio work although Europa is their best live album. Rick (worked the board for the Dead and lived in Bear's house under the staircase) explained to me that like most live albums, it isn't actually. They took the tapes from the tour and overdubbed them heavily.

And that's entertainment. Fake blues. ;)


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