Day 102: Row Jimmy, 6/28/74

Grateful Dead Dick's Picks 12 album cover artwork

I’ve had an up-and-down relationship with Row Jimmy. I really like the song, but there are times when it was almost a dirge and I tend to get bored with those versions. Fortunately, this is not one of them!

I really like the arrangement in later years when there was a section with almost a reggae vibe. In fact, there is a reggae version of the song out there that is very good on one of the Fire On The Mountain releases. Judy Mowatt, who was one of Bob Marley’s backup singers, the I-Threes, takes on Row Jimmy for Volume 1 and They Love Each Other for Volume 2. Both are worth checking out if you like reggae (and both volumes are now sold together as well).

My eldest son is named James and this song makes me think of him. I keep hoping he’ll take to it as he gets old. But for now James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James” works a bit better.

Solid Row Jimmys to check out? Any with the reggae vibe? Let me know in the comments.

A lovely version of this song; laid back and mellow as per usual. Garcia’s slide solo glides over the top of the song like an Olympic figure skating nailing a gold medal routine. The song structure is pretty straightforward but this isn’t your typical rhythmic sortee. The quasi-reggae feel generated by Bobby and the single drummer leaves a lot of room to play around and they add all kinds of off beat accents throughout.

Donna sounds really nice on this one, as do the rest of the backing vocals. Yes, even Phil! This being a more mellow song it must have been easier to heard oneself on stage with that massive wall of sound. The chorus at about the 6:15 mark is basically a capella with the exception of some swirling keys from Keith. Toward the end the rest of the band jumps back in and continue with another round of the chorus. A few final exhortations for young James to get down and row leaves the crowd roaring for more as the song ends.

Complete Setlist 6/28/74

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4 Comments
  1. first, nice choice brother lunchbox…
    right off the bat, totally dig how you can hear a few audience members cheer, like they were on stage…
    sweet harmonies & Billy playing as slow as Nick Mason(!)
    not an easy feat…
    around 4 minutes you finally hear Keiths’ rather welcome electric piano flavourings…
    Crazy Fingers, Estimated, Row Jimmy…
    hell, shout out to Love In The Afternoon as well!!
    …i&i LOVE ALL the reggaesque tunes!
    as well all the Peter Tosh & Jimmy Cliff tunes Garcia dug/covered…
    especially dug those versions of Strugglin’ Man with Reconstruction in 79…
    Row Jimmy is not only one of my personal favourite tunes,
    but i’ve been really into it lately…
    Dave’s #5 (11.17.73) has lotsa tasty Keith piano fills throughout the whole tune…
    in fact in the current Tapers Section on dead.net is a killer one from 10.25.73…
    by summer/fall 73 Weir & Keith REALLY had their respective parts sussed out,
    they were playing them with thee utmost of confidence by then…
    Dave’s #9 (5.14.74) is sweet, lotsa Keith playin electric piano throughout…
    some really groovy interplay between Jerry, Keith & Billy during the middle solo…
    most 74 versions are chiller, with that irie-feeling-vibe…
    some could drag a bit occasionally… (for some folks, not me!)
    NOT THIS ONE!
    jer’s playing is sooooooo sweet, what more to say…
    this is my 3rd listen in less than 2 hours…
    THIS IS ONE OF THEE FINEST DICK PICK’S (vol.12!) as well, period…
    the vocals sound much better than most 74 W.o.S recordings/releases…
    on most tunes throughout it, especially here…
    need more time to dig on the 11.9 & 11.10.73 versions from the Winterland 73 boxset…
    it has just recently been acquired…
    note: had a killer sounding cassette SBD of the 6.28.74 WRS>JAM! as a youngin’
    a treasured asset as a mid-teenager… a definite converter, if you will…
    “get back home where you belong, and don’t have run off no more…”

    • Thanks Ace. I believe you had touted Row Jimmy in this pages, which inspired me to take another look. An old friend suggested this one to me and I agreed with his assessment.

  2. Wow. I have to say I hear it very differently. This was my impression:

    Another spankin’ new one from their current album finds the Dead on top of it. “Julie catch a rabbit” – hey, wait a minute, Julie must have been a dog! I just got that, finally. Crazy. This one sounds spiffy, except for, yes, I have to say it again, those so-called harmonies sung by Donna Godchaux. Billy pulls off a funny, extended roll twice during the following solo, seemingly trying to trip the boys up. It doesn’t, though. Jerry maintains focus and delivers verse two just right. The next chorus is better right up until the end of it. Then here comes Jer again with the slide. He is not totally confident in this role, but does pretty well anyway. Another verse slides by in style and we are back to sucking on the chorus. She almost had it before! What happened? The bridge is iffy at best, too. From here it is kind of embarrassing for the most part. Garcia tries to sing over Donna and I figure he was ready to run over her by this point, too. Yuck!

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