Day 251: Far From Me, 3/21/90

Grateful Dead Spring 1990 The Other One Hamilton 3/21/90 album cover artwork

Oh look! Another pick from the new Spring 1990 box set. I’m sorry I’m not sorry….

Far From Me wasn’t played a lot, but it was played more than I thought it was upon looking it up. Aside from a respite in 1985 and 1986 it was played at least a few times a year between 1980 and 1990 (mostly in 1980 and 1987). This was the first outing of the song on the Spring 1990 tour and the first take on the song since the night before (10/15/89) the show that would be released as Nightfall of Diamonds (10/16/89).

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Not only was it the first performance of the song on the spring tour in 1990, it was the only one. There would be only 3 more versions, the last one coming in Brent’s penultimate show on 7/22/90 in Tinly Park, IL.

While the song certainly had that AM radio/Steely Dan type of feel to it, I think that it actually aged alright and it sounded better on this evening that most others. A large part of that is probably due to the overall sound and vibe of that tour, which was a homerun all the way around by pretty much all accounts. I haven’t heard the other 3 versions from the summer tour, but it may not be a stretch to say that this is the last good version of the song (I reserve judgment to alter that statement if I ever sit down and listen to the other versions though!). Of course, depending on your stance on the song itself, that may not be a ringing endorsement, but it’s worth a listen if you ask me.

The sound here is much more full and vivacious than a lot of the versions from the early 80s. Brent is in fine vocal form and again sounds stronger here than in earlier renditions, in my opinion. Really there isn’t a lot of fancy stuff going on here. Jerry plays a short, modest solo, but it serves the song well. Phil plays a bouncy bassline through most of the song that is quite welcome. The second instrumental section is mostly Jerry and Brent, which gets a little cluttered if you ask me, but the band barrels ahead. The backing vocals actually sound pretty good for the most part throughout the song. It comes to a rather unceremonious end, but as far as I’m concerned Far From Me isn’t quite a prodigal song, but it’s nice to have back nonetheless and with the sound of the spring 1990 Dead it was an ideal time to bring it back.

Complete Setlist 3/21/90

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  1. This sounds great and I really like this song a lot, in part because Go To Heaven was one of those studio albums I listened to often before seeing the band live. I feel lucky that they played this (for the last time) at my first show. I didn’t know it at the time but that 7-22 show was a big Brent show featuring Hey Pockey Way and Gimme Some Lovin’ as well as Far From Me.
    Keep the Spring 90 stuff coming, Lunchbox. I’m a Godchaux era guy first and foremost, but I really enjoy those last few Brent years.

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