Day 303: How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), 3/25/72

Grateful Dead Dick's Picks 30 album cover artwork

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit. Needless to say I love me some Motown. I think there are a number of parallels between Motown and the Grateful Dead in terms of songcraft. Motown songs are just so well-written that they can and have been adapted by a huge cross sections of musical styles. The same is true of the Grateful Dead. (Just check out the DFAY Halloween week selections for examples [starting here].)

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As far as I can tell this is the only time the Grateful Dead played How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You. Aside from a few vocal aberrations from Donna, I think the Dead’s take on the song kicks ass. The playing is top notch, and as such I just can’t figure out why they wouldn’t want to play it again. Granted Jerry played this tune quite a bit with the JGB over the years, but the Dead had a really powerful rhythm section and they just rock this one. It seems like a no-brainer to me, but hey – I wasn’t there. I guess my point is that the Dead were a great rhythm and blues band when they wanted to be and this song is a natural fit for the groove that they could lay down.

Regardless, we’re fortunate that the band had tape rolling this evening so we can even play “what if” in the first place.

Ok, I’ll be the first to admit that Donna sounds a bit pitchy here. Not her best work. But the rest of the band? They are cooking with gas from the opening chord. Keith throws in some of that boogie stuff and Jerry is upfront and clear in the mix, playing inspired passage into inspired passage. Hearing how well the band clicks on this song makes me wonder why they didn’t play it more often. This song is HOT! Jerry plays more straight ahead rock licks, while the rest of the band holds down more of a shuffling R&B groove. The two different styles mesh really really well here though. Keith gets a chance to step out and shows off more of that boogie woogie piano that I love so much. Listen to the figures Weir plays right around 6:20 they’re reminiscent of what Keith is doing, and then Keith plays a similar figure around 6:40. It’s a rocking good time of give and take and the band just slays the song if you ask me. Talk about a great set opener!

Complete Setlist 3/25/72

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