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).

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